Sri Lanka

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 29 July 2015

Five-Year Review: Non-signatory Sri Lanka has not articulated its position on accession to the convention, but it has participated as an observer in all of the convention’s Meetings of States Parties since 2011. Sri Lanka states that it has never used or stockpiled cluster munitions. It is not known to have produced or transferred cluster munitions.


The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Sri Lanka has never made a public statement articulating its policy on accession to the convention.[1] In 2013, a representative of the country’s armed forces informed the CMC that the Sri Lankan military does not object to Sri Lanka joining the convention.[2]

Sri Lanka participated in one meeting of the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions (Vienna in December 2007). It attended a regional meeting on cluster munitions in Bali, Indonesia in November 2009.

Sri Lanka engages in the work of the convention, despite not joining. It has participated as an observer in all of the convention’s Meetings of States Parties since 2011, most recently the Fifth Meeting of States Parties in San Jose, Costa Rica in September 2014. Sri Lanka attended the convention’s intersessional meetings once, in April 2013.

Sri Lanka is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

Sri Lankan officials have stated that its armed forces do not possess cluster munitions and have never used the weapons.[3] Sri Lanka has consistently denied claims that it used cluster munitions in 2008 and 2009 during the final phases of the operation against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).[4] In September 2013, a Sri Lankan army officer informed the CMC that army engineers are trained to clear unexploded ordnance from weapons used by the armed forces, but they have not been trained to clear cluster munitions as Sri Lanka does not possess these weapons and has never used them.[5]

The Sri Lankan government’s Media Center for National Security issued the following statement on its website in February 2009: “The Government wishes to clarify that the Sri Lanka army do not use these cluster bombs nor do they have facilities to use them.”[6] The Ministry of Defence and Urban Development website posted a statement saying Sri Lanka never fired cluster munitions and never brought them into the country.[7] In February 2009, a military spokesperson was quoted stating, “We don’t have the facility to fire cluster munitions. We don’t have these weapons.”[8] In April 2012, further allegations about government use of cluster munitions during the conflict were strongly denied by the government of Sri Lanka.[9] 

A March 2011 report by a UN panel of experts on Sri Lanka noted the government’s denial of use of the weapon and said that it was unable to reach a conclusion on the credibility of the allegation of use of cluster munitions by Sri Lanka.[10]

[1] In 2010, the Ministry of Economic Development published a plan stating that it would “advocate for a ban of landmines and cluster munitions,” but it is not known to have done so. Ministry of Economic Development, “The National Strategy for Mine Action in Sri Lanka,” September 2010.

[2] CMC interview with Brig. H.J.S. Gunawardane, Head of the Sri Lanka delegation, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Lusaka, 12 September 2013.

[3] Monitor meeting with Amb. Dr. Palitha T.B. Kohona and Dilup Nanyakkara, Advisor, Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the UN in New York, New York, 19 October 2010.

[4] See Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Muntions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 242–243. In October 2009, Sri Lankan Army Commander Lt.-Gen. J. Jayasuriya stated, “Where the cluster munitions are concerned, I wish to categorically state that such inhumane weapons have never, and will never be used by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.” Keynote address by Lt.-Gen. Jayasuriya, Sri Lankan Army, International Law on Landmines and Explosive Remnants of War Seminar, Colombo, 27 October 2009. The text of the address was included in “Flow of arms to terrorists must stop,” Daily News, 28 October 2009.

[5] CMC interview with Brig. H.J.S. Gunawardane, Head of Sri Lanka delegation, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Lusaka, 12 September 2013.

[6] Media Center for National Security, “Government denies the attack on Pudukuduerippu hospital or using cluster bombs,” 4 February 2009.

[7] Walter Jayawardhana, “UN Spokesman Accepts Sri Lanka Never Had Cluster Bombs,” Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, 5 February 2009.

[8] Ibid.

[9] In April 2012, the Associated Press quoted a UNDP mine action advisor as reportedly stating in an internal document that deminers had encountered submunitions in the Puthukkudiyiruppu area of northeastern Sri Lanka. See Ravi Nessman, “UN Finds Cluster Bombs in Sri Lanka,” Associated Press (New Delhi), 26 April 2012; and Ravi Nessman, “Witness: Man hit by cluster bomb in Sri Lanka war,” Associated Press (New Delhi), 27 April 2012. The government’s Media Center for National Security responded, “The rehashed allegation in international media that the Sri Lankan Armed Forces used cluster munitions during the Humanitarian Operations is baseless. It is a repetition of similar allegations that were made earlier on several occasions and is not based on any facts.” Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, “Ministry of Defence denies use of cluster munitions by security forces,” 28 April 2012.

[10] Report of the Secretary General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka, 31 March 2011, p. 47 (Section G, paras. 168–169).