ROME - More global efforts are needed to ensure that the international treaty banning cluster munitions achieves its goal: to end the suffering and harm caused by these indiscriminately acting weapons, he writes Human Rights Watch. May 30 marks 15 years since the Convention on Cluster Munitions was adopted in Dublin, Ireland.
How cluster bombs work. They are fired from artillery, rockets, missiles and aircraft. They unfold in mid-air and disperse up to hundreds of sub-munitions, or smaller bombs, over a large area. Many of these fail to explode upon impact with the ground and leave residues that can injure and kill indiscriminately and for years, until the territories are reclaimed. As happens with anti-personnel mines.
The Convention prohibiting the use of these devices. The treaty prohibits the use, production, acquisition, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions and requires the destruction of all stockpiles. The more humanitarian rules of the Convention also require countries to clean up areas contaminated by cluster munition residues and provide assistance to victims. In recent years there have been no abuses or violations by the 123 Parsees who have signed and ratified the Convention. However, the production of cluster bombs continues undisturbed by the countries that have not joined.
The cluster bombs used by the Russians and Ukrainians. A recent report by Human Rights Watch details how the Russian military has repeatedly used cluster munitions in Ukraine since the offensive began in February 2022. The attacks have claimed hundreds of civilian lives and damaged homes, hospitals and schools. In a single Russian attack with cluster munitions on a train station in Kramatorsk on 8 April 2022, at least 58 people were killed and another 100 were injured. Kiev has also used cluster munitions on several occasions, the organization writes.
In Syria. Here the Syrian-Russian military alliance used cluster munition rockets in attacks on IDP camps in Idlib governorate on 6 November 2022, killing and wounding scores of civilians. Second Amnesty International And Cluster Munition Monitorthe Myanmar Air Force used a domestically manufactured cluster bomb in an attack on July 2, 2022.
The bomb makers. Among the member states of the Convention on Cluster Munitions there are seventeen former producers of this type of weapon. But among the non-signatory countries there are some that have not stopped production, such as China and Russia, which, on the contrary, are studying to develop new types of cluster munitions. The United States actually last produced cluster munitions in 2016, but since 2017, the US political agenda has paved the way for a restart of their manufacture.
The destruction of ammunition residues. Since the Convention was adopted, 37 states have collectively destroyed a total of nearly 1.5 million cluster munitions and more than 178 million sub-munitions. Signatory countries such as Bulgaria, Peru and Slovakia continue to make progress on the path outlined by the treaty, namely the destruction of stockpiles. In 2021 and the first half of 2022, the three countries collectively destroyed at least 1,658 preserved cluster munitions and 46,733 sub-munitions. South Africa is also moving towards destroying the deposits, but will likely fail to meet the September 1, 2023 deadline. In February, Nigeria finally ratified the Convention.
The future. The 11th annual meeting of the Convention on Cluster Munitions will be held at the United Nations in Geneva from 11 to 14 September, under the chairmanship of Iraqi Ambassador Abdul-Karim Hashim Mostafa.