Summary: Non-signatory Cambodia has expressed its support for the convention, but has not taken any steps towards accession to the convention. Cambodia has participated in almost all of the convention’s meetings, including the First Review Conference in September 2015. Cambodia is not known to have ever produced, used, or exported cluster munitions. It has not disclosed the size or precise content of its cluster munition stockpile. Cambodia’s cluster munition contamination dates from the 1960s and 1970s, when the United States (US) extensively bombed the country in air attacks. In February 2011, Thailand fired cluster munitions into Cambodian territory on the border near Preah Vihear temple.
The Kingdom of Cambodia has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Cambodia stated in 2013 and 2014 that it was studying the implications of accession with stakeholders and is not prepared to make a decision until consultations conclude. The current status of its internal process is unclear as the Cambodian government has said little about its views on the convention since 2014.
Cambodia participated as an observer in the convention’s First Review Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia in September 2015, but did not make any statements, including during the high-level segment.
On 7 December 2015, Cambodia was absent from the vote on the first UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which urges states outside the convention to “join as soon as possible.” A total of 140 states, including many non-signatories, voted in favor of the non-binding resolution.
Cambodia was an early, prominent, and influential supporter of the Oslo Process that produced the Convention on Cluster Munitions and hosted the first regional forum on cluster munitions in Phnom Penh in March 2007. Cambodia advocated forcefully for the most comprehensive and immediate ban possible and joined in the consensus adoption of the convention at the conclusion of the Dublin negotiations in May 2008. Yet, despite this extensive and positive leadership role, Cambodia attended the Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference in Oslo on 3 December 2008 as an observer and did not sign, stating at the time that due to “recent security developments” in the region, it needed more time to study the security implications of joining.
Cambodia has cited several reasons for not joining the Convention on Cluster Munitions, most of them security-related. The Ministry of Defense has raised questions including how to destroy stockpiled cluster munitions and how to replenish defense capabilities after their destruction.
The ICRC and Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace (CICP) held a seminar on the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Phnom Penh on 12 May 2016. In a keynote address, General Chau Phirun, the director of the Ministry of Defense’s General Department of Material and Technical Services, reportedly expressed concern that some of Cambodia’s neighboring countries have used cluster munitions. The Khmer Press reported that Phirun saw “significant benefits” to Cambodia “joining the convention,” and called on all countries to prohibit the use, production, transfer, stockpiling, and sale of cluster bombs. In its summary of the meeting, chair CICP concluded that after listening to all views the reason for joining the convention outweigh those for not joining, but noted the Cambodian government requires time to decide.
Cambodia has long emphasized the need for its neighboring states, particularly Thailand, to accede to the convention. Cambodia’s position on accession to the convention seemed to show signs of positive change in 2011 after Thailand fired cluster munitions into Cambodian territory on the border near Preah Vihear temple, killing two men and injuring seven. But since 2012, it has continued to repeat the line that, “Cambodia is still assessing the impact of signing the Convention on Cluster Munitions on its defense capability and the ability to comply with all obligations.”
Despite not joining, Cambodia participated in every Meeting of States Parties of the convention, except in 2014, as well as intersessional meetings in Geneva in 2011–2015 and regional workshops on the convention.
Cambodia has condemned new use of cluster munitions.
The Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs continues to call for the government to accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Cambodia is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.
Use, production, and transfer
Cambodia is not known to have used, produced, or exported cluster munitions.
The US used some 80,000 air-dropped cluster munitions containing 26 million submunitions on Cambodia in the 1960s and 1970s during the Vietnam War, mostly in the east and northeast of the country.
After Thailand fired cluster munitions into Cambodian territory in June 2011, Cambodian officials informed a meeting of the convention that, “Despite being confronted and threatened by forces, so far we have refrained from employing cluster munitions in our response.”
The size and precise content of Cambodia’s stockpile of cluster munitions is not known. In December 2008, a Ministry of Defense official said that Cambodia has “some missile launchers that use cluster munitions that weigh more than 20 kg” and that there were also stockpiles of cluster munitions weighing 250kg left over from the 1980s that Cambodia intends to destroy. Weapons with submunitions that weigh more than 20kg each are not defined as cluster munitions by the Convention on Cluster Munitions and are thus not prohibited.
According to standard international reference publications, Cambodia also possesses BM-21 Grad 122mm surface-to-surface rocket launchers, but it is not known if the ammunition for these weapons includes versions with submunition payloads. Cambodian officials have sought clarification from States Parties and NGOs as to whether BM-21 multiple barrel rocket launchers are banned under the convention. The launchers are capable of firing rockets with a variety of warheads, one of which is a cargo warhead containing explosive submunitions. The CMC has informed Cambodia that the rocket delivery system itself is not prohibited by the convention, and the convention would allow use of the BM-21 with unitary munitions. However, under the terms of the convention, a BM-21 rocket launcher could not be used to deliver rockets containing explosive submunitions.
 In April 2014, an official said the convention’s “lack of clearly defined definition of cluster munitions” requires Cambodia to undertake “a much more vigorous study among key national technical stakeholders…to explore technical matters and to seek a possible consensus.” He said Cambodia will consider accession to the convention when it “concludes all relevant assessments.” Statement of Cambodia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 7 April 2014. See also, statement of Cambodia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Lusaka, 10 September 2013.
 “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 70/54, 7 December 2015. It was also absent during the first round of voting on the draft resolution in UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security on 4 November 2015. “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution AC.1/70/L.49/Rev.1, 4 November 2015.
 For details on Cambodia’s policy and practice regarding cluster munitions through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 193–195.
 See ICBL, Cluster Munition Monitor 2010 (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2010), p. 201.
 Peter Sombor, “Cambodia Still Undecided About Signing Cluster Munitions Treaty,” The Cambodia Daily, 9 September 2013; and ICBL, Cluster Munition Monitor 2010 – Cambodia ban policy update, 21 October 2010.
 Ban Sokrith, “Cluster-bomb Seminar Will Aim to Push for Global Ban,” Khmer Times, 10 March 2016.
 Seminar on the global humanitarian problem of cluster munitions and the Convention on Cluster Munitions organized by the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace and the ICRC, Phnom Penh, 12 May 2016. Notes provided to the Monitor by a participant in the meeting.
 ICBL, “Country Profile: Cambodia: Cluster Munition Ban Policy,” 21 October 2010.
 At the convention’s first intersessional meetings in June 2011, Cambodia said its accession was “just a matter of time.” Statement of Cambodia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 27 June 2011.
 Statement of Cambodia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 11 September 2012; and statement of Cambodia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 17 April 2012.
 See the Facebook page of the Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs.
 Article 2.2 states: “‘Cluster munition’ means a conventional munition that is designed to disperse or release explosive submunitions each weighing less than 20 kilograms, and includes those explosive submunitions.”
 International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2011 (London: Routledge, 2011), p. 229; and Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2008, CD-edition, 3 December 2007 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2008).
 Letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen from Steve Goose, CMC, 30 November 2011.