(London, 10 February 2011) – The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) is concerned by allegations of recent use of cluster munitions in a border conflict between Cambodia and Thailand. According to media reports, government and military officials from both countries have accused the other side of using the weapons, which are banned under international law because of the unacceptable civilian harm they cause.
The reports have not been independently verified, and the CMC does not know if cluster munitions have been used, but it condemns the use of cluster munitions anywhere, by any actor, for any reason.
Cambodia and Thailand are not among the 108 countries that have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Both participated in the “Oslo Process” to negotiate the Convention and attended its First Meeting of States Parties in neighbouring Lao PDR in November 2010. The treaty entered into force as binding international law on 1 August 2010, banning the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions, while requiring states to destroy stockpiles, clear contaminated land and assist victims and affected communities. Of the 108 countries that have signed the Convention since it opened for signature in December 2008, 51 countries have already ratified.
Both countries possess a stockpiles of cluster munitions, but little is known about their status or composition. The Cambodian government has in the past cited an ongoing review of its defence and security situation as the reason for a delay in joining the treaty. Thailand has cited concerns over its ability to destroy its stockpile as a roadblock to joining the Convention, but it previously announced it would not use the weapons.
Both countries are States Parties to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and Cambodia will host the treaty’s 11th Meeting of States Parties in November 2011.
South-East Asia is more heavily contaminated by cluster munitions than any other region after the United States dropped large numbers of cluster bombs on Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s.
The CMC calls on Cambodia and Thailand to clarify if their armed forces have used cluster munitions in the recent border conflict, and urges both countries to refrain from using cluster munitions and to prevent future civilian suffering by acceding to the Convention on Cluster Munitions without delay.