Wednesday, June 14, 2023

 PDF Version of Letter HERE


Dear Mr. President, 

We, the undersigned organizations, write with grave concerns over the potential transfer of United States cluster munitions to Ukraine. We sincerely appreciate your Administration’s firm stance in not transferring any U.S. cluster munitions to Ukraine to date. Despite recent calls from members of Congress and Ukrainian leaders ii for the United States to transfer cluster munitions to Ukraine, we strongly urge you to remain steadfast. 

The U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition condemns in the strongest possible terms the use,  production, transfer, or stockpiling of cluster munitions by any party. Cluster munitions are among the most harmful weapons to civilians, as they are designed to disperse indiscriminately across a wide area and often fail to explode on initial use, littering communities with unstable unexploded ordnance and causing devastating harm to civilians, and especially children, years after a conflict ends. 

Cluster munitions have been used repeatedly by the Russian military since its full-scale invasion in February of 2022, with devastating impacts on civilians and civilian objects, including homes,  hospitals, and schools, according to Human Rights Watch. The Ukrainian military has also used cluster munitions on multiple occasions.iii On April 8, 2022, a cluster munitions attack by Russia killed at least 58 civilians and injured over 100 others in the city of Kramatorsk—this is just one of the hundreds of documented, reported, or credibly alleged, cluster munition attacks in Ukraine since the 2022 invasion. The United States must not be complicit in the use of these indiscriminate weapons. 

Any claims of potential tactical benefits of the transfer and subsequent use of cluster munitions by Ukraine in the defense of its territory, dismisses both the substantial danger that cluster munitions pose to civilians, and the international consensus on their prohibition. 

Were the United States to transfer these prohibited weapons, it would run counter to the global consensus, embodied in the 123 countries who are signatories or states parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of these weapons. While neither the Russian Federation, Ukraine nor the United States are party to the Convention,  23 NATO members are among the states parties. Beyond making the United States a global outlier, acting in contradiction to partner nations’ and NATO allies’ express ban on the transfer and use of these weapons could hurt the U.S.’ ability to forge and maintain coalitions that have been so crucial to supporting Ukraine. It would also harm efforts to promote other arms control agreements.  

Although the United States is regrettably not party to the Convention, a long-standing congressional mandate prohibits the transfer of any cluster munitions with a failure rate greater than 1%, which effectively forbids the transfer of any existing U.S. stockpiled cluster munitions.iv Additionally, twice in the past year,v members of Congress have written your  Administration calling for the United States to “be leading the global effort to rid the world of  these weapons, not continuing to stockpile them” and urged you to “promptly order a review of  U.S. policy on cluster munitions with the goal of halting their use, production, export, and  stockpiling and putting the United States on a path to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions.” We urge your Administration to continue to heed this congressional mandate and intent. 

Cluster munitions are indiscriminate weapons that disproportionately harm civilians, both at the time of use and for years after a conflict has ended. We greatly appreciate your committed stance against transferring these weapons while supporting the Ukrainian people – and we urge you  remain resolute in resisting recent calls.  


U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition (USCMC) Members: 

American Friends Service Committee 

Amnesty International USA 

Arms Control Association 

Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) 

Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) 

Friends Committee on National Legislation 

Human Rights Watch 

Humanity & Inclusion 

Landmines Blow! 

Legacies of War 

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns 

Mines Advisory Group (MAG) US 

Nobel Women's Initiative  

Physicians for Human Rights 

Presbyterian Church, (USA) Office of Public Witness 

Proud Students Against Landmines and Cluster Bombs (PSALM) 

The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft 


United Church of Christ, Justice and Local Church Ministries 

West Virginia Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions 

Win Without War 


18 Million Rising 

Aurora Commons 

Center for International Policy  

Children of Vietnam 

Church of the Brethren, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy

Foreign Policy for America 

No Ethics in Big Tech 

Nonviolent Peaceforce 

Oxfam America 

Pax Christi USA 

Peace Action  

Plan International USA 


Shadow World Investigations 

Sisters of Mercy of the Americas - Justice Team 

Spirit of Soccer 


cc: National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of  Defense Lloyd Austin  

i Senator James Risch, Senator Roger Wicker, Representative Michael McCaul, Representative Mike Rogers.  “DPCIM Letter.” Received by President Biden, March 21, 2023,

ii Rogin, Josh. “Ukrainians Are Begging for Cluster Munitions to Stop the Russians.” The Washington Post, 2 Mar.  2023, iii “Cluster Munition Use in Russia-Ukraine War.” Human Rights Watch, 29 May 2023,

iv Human Rights Watch, 2003, Cluster Munitions a Foreseeable Hazard in Iraq, Representative William Keating, Representative Jim McGovern, Representative Sara Jacobs, et al. “Cluster  Munitions Letter” Received by President Biden, April 22, 2022 

Senator Patrick Leahy, Representative William Keating, Representative Jim McGovern, Representative Sara  Jacobs, et al. “Bicameral Cluster Munitions Letter” Received by President Biden, December 21, 2022