Thursday, April 25, 2024

The US Cluster Munition Coalition (USCMC) is appalled by President Biden’s decision to again transfer internationally prohibited cluster munitions to Ukraine. The US Cluster Munition Coalition has condemned the four previous transfers of these weapons since July of 2023, and is dismayed by the need to condemn such an action for the fifth time. The US Cluster Munition Coalition urges President Biden to reject these prohibited weapons and to urgently act to align US policy and actions with requirements of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

According to the April 24, 2024, announcement, the latest transfer includes 155mm artillery rounds containing cluster munitions that deliver Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICM) submunitions. The United States stockpiles 155mm M864 cluster munition artillery projectiles that each contain 72 DPICM submunitions and 155mm M483A1 artillery projectiles that each contain 88 DPICM submunitions. However, the exact type and quantity of cluster munitions transferred is again not specified by the announcement. 

The US Cluster Munition Coalition condemns this transfer decision due to the devastating and long-term humanitarian consequences of cluster munitions. The transfer is contrary to the global norms embodied in the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions that prohibits the development, acquisition, use, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions. A total of 124 countries, including 25 NATO member states, have ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The previous transfers of US cluster munitions to Ukraine prompted criticism from more than two dozen world leaders and top officials. The continued transfer of these banned weapons undermines the global norm against them, and erodes US moral and diplomatic standing in the eyes of the international community.

The transfer and use of these weapons will only cause greater suffering to civilians, especially children, today and for decades to come. Cluster munitions are not a “winning weapon” but indiscriminate weapons that blanket large areas, contaminating land and inflicting disproportionate harm on civilians. The 2023 Cluster Munition Monitor report found that there were at least 1,172 new cluster munition casualties globally in 2022, the highest annual number of cluster munition casualties since at least 2010. There were 890 casualties recorded in Ukraine alone. In 2022, civilians accounted for approximately 95% of all cluster munition casualties. Children account for roughly half of the casualties from cluster munition remnants. 

Following the initial July 2023 decision to transfer cluster munitions, the US Cluster Munition Coalition asked the Biden administration to answer basic but critical questions regarding the transfer of cluster munitions to Ukraine, including the exact types, quantities, dud rates, and transit points. However, the administration has not provided written public answers to these questions as of April 2024. The US Cluster Munition Coalition is dismayed by the continued lack of transparency from the Department of Defense and the White House on this issue.

Previously, the US transferred to Ukraine 155mm artillery projectiles containing cluster munitions in July 2023, September 2023, and March 2024, while it transferred ballistic missiles (ATACMS) containing cluster munitions in October 2023 and March 2024

The US Cluster Munition Coalition urges the United States to change course and stop supporting new use of these globally prohibited weapons. The US Cluster Munition Coalition calls on President Biden to immediately halt the transfer of these banned weapons due to the significant humanitarian, human rights, and political risks involved. Further, the US Cluster Munition Coalition reiterates its longstanding call for the United States to end the use, 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 US Cluster Munition Coalition is a coalition of non-governmental organizations working to achieve a comprehensive US ban on cluster munitions as well as US 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, US Cluster Munition Coalition and CEO, Legacies of War

Mary Wareham Deputy Arms Director, Human Rights Watch

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

Mira Adam  Sr. Media Officer, Humanity & Inclusion