Accusations of Ukraine Using Cluster Bombs
I wanted to bring to your attention a story in Al Jazeera regarding the Ukraine. According to a Human Rights Watch Report, the human rights organization believes that there were many cluster bombs used in the conflict between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels, and “While it was not possible to conclusively determine responsibility for many of the attacks, the evidence points to Ukrainian government forces’ responsibility for several cluster munition attacks on Donetsk” (HRW, 2014).
Human Rights Watch explains that a cluster bomb or “Cluster munitions contain dozens or hundreds of smaller munitions, called submunitions, in a container such as a rocket or a bomb. After launch, the container opens up dispersing the submunitions which are designed to explode when they hit the ground.” They go to to say that “[t]he submunitions are spread indiscriminately over a wide area, often the size of a football field, putting anyone in the area at the time of attack, whether combatants or civilians, at risk of death or injury. In addition, many of the submunitions do not explode on contact, but remain armed, becoming de facto landmines. Any location contaminated with dud submunitions remains hazardous until cleared by deminers.”
These sorts of weapons are banned in international law, as “114 countries have joined the treaty that comprehensively bans cluster munitions because of the danger they pose to civilians” (HRW, 2014). However, Ukraine has not signed onto this treaty (HRW, 2014).
It is crucial that noncombatants are fully protected, and this of course would mean that any weapons or activity that could in any way endanger non-fighters should not be carried out or used. These actions, if true, would clearly be war crimes, as they are indiscriminately targeting non-combatants, and should be condemned by all actors.
I have included the link to Human Rights Watch above, for those interested in more information regarding what is believed to have transpired.