As the Group of Governmental Experts of the States Parties to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) meets in Geneva to consider a new instrument on explosive remnants of war (ERW), Human Rights Watch encourages them to acknowledge the special problems caused by cluster munitions and the need to address the humanitarian dangers of cluster munitions in a comprehensive fashion.

This memorandum identifies possible preventative measures to be taken both before and during a conflict to lessen the negative impact of cluster munitions on civilian populations, and cites steps that some States have already taken. This memorandum also updates information provided to delegates by Human Rights Watch in May 2002 regarding global use, production, stockpiling and trade in cluster munitions.

Human Rights Watch calls on CCW States Parties and other nations to adopt appropriate preventative measures at the national level, and to build up a body of “best practices” that could be implemented by other states. Human Rights Watch also urges States Parties to engage in a serious and in-depth discussion on submunitions and on international humanitarian law, as described in the mandate agreed to in December 2002. These discussions should lead to a new mandate to negotiate a legally-binding instrument aimed specifically at cluster munitions.