Cluster munitions have been a significant weapon in the world’s arsenals for the last half-century, but their use has drawn sharp criticism for its impact on civilian populations. The weapons function by releasing dozens of small “bomblets” over a wide area. For years the debate over these weapons was focused on whether they violated the norms of international humanitarian law, but the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions has altered the discussion, banning the weapons outright. However, the major states that use the weapons, including the United States, have not joined the Convention, and the use of cluster munitions continues. This Note focuses in particular on the American approach to the weapons. It examines the legal status of the weapons and the degree to which U.S. policy has addressed some of the problems associated with them. Finally, it argues that if the United States insists on using cluster munitions, it must create a stricter policy to ensure that its use of the weapons is actually legal.
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