Erik Tollefsen, Advisor Stockpile Destruction, EOD and Technology, GICHD
Last month, on the occasion of the Fourth Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (4MSP-CCM) the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) launched its web-based Cluster Munitions Identification Tool (CM ID Tool).
With the GICHD’s CM ID Tool – a web-based system that enables the easy identification of cluster munitions – it is now possible for countries to assess whether or not these weapons fall within the CCM definition of cluster munitions.
Cluster munitions are weapons which disperse explosive submunitions from a larger container. These do not always function as designed however, and the unexploded bomblets pose a hazard to civilians and their livelihoods long after conflict has ended. During their history of use, cluster bombs have killed and injured thousands of civilians and continue to do so today.
The CCM prohibits cluster munitions and requires member states to address the humanitarian consequences they cause through clearance and victim assistance, as well as to destroy all cluster munition stockpiles. States are also required to report accurately on the cluster munitions in their possession as well as steps taken to destroy them and comply with all other Convention obligations.
The CM ID Tool provides an easily accessible and searchable database using graphic navigation to identify cluster munitions based on weapon category. It shows types and combinations of explosive submunitions and cluster munitions, and helps identify remnants of bomblets and cluster munitions – such as nylon ribbons, parachutes, and metal fragments. It also provides a series of images of typical strike patterns of the most common cluster munition types.
Weapons within any one country can be difficult to identify because often they come from a variety of sources – purchased from several foreign governments or left behind when allies withdraw or conflicts end. Non-technical staff may not be able to easily differentiate between weapons that are classified as cluster munitions and those that are not. The new CM ID Tool is designed to help reduce uncertainty about which stockpiled weapons must be reported on and destroyed.
The Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining is an international expert organisation based in Switzerland that works to eliminate mines, explosive remnants of war and other explosive hazards.