UNODA Short Course Cluster Munitions

Efforts in the United Nations to eradicate cluster munitions


This short course is focusing on cluster munitions which are air- or ground-launched weapons with the potential to cause damage in a wide area of land. A cluster munition is a bomb or shell that contains multiple smaller exploding devices, also often referred to as submunitions or bomblets, contained in one delivery device. Many explosive submunitions fail to detonate as designed when they are dispersed, becoming de facto explosive remnants of war that often lie dormant long after active hostilities have ceased, killing and maiming indiscriminately. The vast majority of casualties are civilians, young males being the most frequent victims.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions aims at providing a comprehensive international response to the suffering caused by the use of cluster munitions and their remnants, and preventing the proliferation and future use of these unreliable and inaccurate weapons. This landmark treaty was adopted in 2008 and entered into force in 2010; it currently has 110 States Parties. Thanks to the continuous work of the Implementation Support Unit for the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other civil society groups, significant progress has been made, however, great challenges remain to be addressed so that these deadly weapons may be eradicated.

This course provides an introduction to cluster munitions and the international legal framework that addresses this issue.

Demonstration Cluster Bomb showing Bomblets

What will participants learn?

Upon completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Justify the significance of disarmament and non-proliferation;
  • Describe the role the United Nations and the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs play in addressing disarmament issues in general and the cluster munitions problem in particular;
  • Explain what cluster munitions are, and what kind of threat they pose for the civilian population; and
  • Analyse the achievements that have been made and the challenges that yet need to be tackled in the cluster munitions problem.


Diplomats, especially those new to disarmament matters; interested individuals from academia, think tanks, and non-governmental organizations; the media and the general public.

Components and Methodology:

  • Online
  • Self-paced

The course is available in English and is held in the Disarmament Education Dashboard, thus participants need a computer or mobile device, with audio and reliable internet connection. No special software is required.


Upon successful completion of the course, including examination and course evaluation a certificate of completion will automatically be issued to the participant.

Short-course Series

The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs Short Course Series aims at making available quality education material on disarmament, arms control, non-proliferation and issues cross-cutting with security, such as gender and development. The courses are targeted for and available to the general public at UNODA’S globally accessible e-Learning platform

In line with the UN Secretary-General’s Agenda for Disarmament this short-course series aims to contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.