What is ICRC’s position on cluster bombs and other munitions which are a menace to civilians after a war?
The use of these munitions, like any other, is subject to the general rules of international humanitarian law (IHL) governing the means and methods of warfare*, particularly with a view to sparing the civilian population.
As cluster bombs spread their effects over wide areas and can have far-reaching consequences, ICRC strongly believes that these weapons should not be used against military objectives in populated areas.
Lasting threat: Working in war zones, ICRC witnesses first-hand the humanitarian consequences of unexploded cluster bombs and other munitions. Such weapons kill and injure civilians long after a conflict has ended. They also block the delivery of humanitarian assistance, prevent the cultivation of crops and slow the reconstruction of war-affected areas.
New controls: Governments are working to reduce the threat posed by cluster bombs and other unexploded munitions. ICRC is part of an expert group established in December 2001 to examine proposals to develop new international rules in this area.
* see, in particular, Additional Protocol I, Articles 51 and 57