The new Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) is potentially very significant in its implications regarding the ‘area-effect’ use of explosive weapons. A line of legal reasoning has been suggested in a paper for Landmine Action: Implications of the Convention on Cluster Munitions for developing a norm against area-effect use of explosive weapons.

The basic thrust of this paper is that the CCM signals an intent to prohibit “indiscriminate area effects”, and through its definition of “cluster munition” it quite clearly delineates how this should be understood. This understanding, drawn from the specific case of cluster munitions, can then help us to read the general obligations against “indiscriminate attacks” as contained in 1977 Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions.

The implications of this are significant because it begins to calibrate how these general rules might be interpreted in relation to a wide range of conventional explosive weapons.

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