Friday, September 22, 2023

The U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition (USCMC) reiterates its condemnation of the use of internationally outlawed cluster munitions and firm opposition to any transfers of these weapons to any party. Following the widespread condemnation by the international community and civil society to President Biden’s decision to transfer these prohibited weapons in July, the USCMC is appalled by the Biden administration’s decision to initiate another transfer of these indiscriminate weapons

As the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions and USCMC member Human Rights Watch have written, the July decision to transfer U.S. cluster munitions to Ukraine prompted criticism from more than 20 world leaders and top officials. This latest transfer will only further disrupt global consensus and erode the global norm against their use. A total of 123 countries have prohibited cluster munitions by signing or ratifying the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of these deadly weapons. That includes the vast majority of NATO member states. 

President Biden himself noted in his remarks before the U.N. General Assembly, a day before the announcement of this latest transfer, that the U.S. and the world must “keep moving forward on issues like arms control — a cornerstone of international security.”

Following the July decision, the USCMC appealed to the Biden administration to answer basic questions regarding the transfer of cluster munitions to Ukraine – however these questions have remained unanswered two months later. Not only are members of the USCMC deeply concerned, but other civil society, humanitarian, and demining organizations working in Ukraine, along with many journalists, have expressed frustration over the lack of transparency from the National Security Council (NSC), the Department of Defense, and the Department of State.

Cluster munitions are indiscriminate weapons that blanket large areas, haphazardly contaminating land and inflicting harm disproportionately on civilians. A new report indicates that cluster munition attacks killed or wounded at least 987 people in 2022, of whom 890 were in Ukraine, and 95% of whom were civilians. They are not a “winning weapon” and will only cause greater suffering, today and for decades to come. As the USCMC noted in a June 14, 2023 letter to President Biden, "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." 

The USCMC calls on the United States to change course and not be complicit in the use of these devastating and indiscriminate weapons. The USCMC strongly urges President Biden to reconsider the decision to once again transfer these banned weapons, and urges that he reconsider given the significant humanitarian, human rights, and political risks involved. Further, the USCMC reiterates our calls for the United States to end the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster munitions, to swiftly join the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and to encourage its partners and allies to do the same.



The U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition is a coalition of non-governmental organizations working to achieve a comprehensive U.S. ban on cluster munitions as well as U.S. accession to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which more than 120 nations have joined. Our coalition also calls for sustained U.S. government financial support for the clearance of cluster munition remnants and assistance for victims of the weapons. 



Experts for Contact: 

Sera Koulabdara Chair, U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition and CEO, Legacies of War

Titus Peachey  Steering Committee Member, U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition and Emeritus Board Chair, Legacies of War

Daryl G. Kimball Executive Director, Arms Control Association

Mary Wareham Acting Arms Director, Human Rights Watch

Jeff Meer, U.S. Executive Director, Humanity & Inclusion