Legacies of War

Cluster Bombs in Laos

Author: Channapha Khamvongsa and Elaine Russell


In this article nongovernmental organization (NGO) workers Channapha Khamvongsa and Elaine Russell discuss the massive illegal U.S. bombing of Laos between 1964 and 1973 and its lingering human, economic, and ecological toll. They survey the history of foreign intervention in Laos, with special emphasis on the cold war–era civil war and U.S. intervention. The authors describe continuing civilian casualties and obstacles to development posed by unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Laos, and detail current efforts for UXO removal. The authors propose a formal reconciliation process between the United States and Laos in which the U.S. government would accept responsibility for the long-term effects of the bombing and the governments would cooperate with NGOs and the United Nations in a transparent process to fund UXO removal.

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© Arthur Jones, PhD