US Supplies Ukraine with Cluster Munitions: Advocates Continue Efforts to Enhance Ban Treaty


Supporters of an international agreement that bans cluster munitions, which harm and kill far more civilians than combatants, are attempting to maintain support for the agreement following what one leading human rights group calls a “unconscionable” decision by the United States to ship such weapons to Ukraine for its fight against Russia.

Cluster Munitions Coalition advocacy groups released their most recent annual report on Tuesday, ahead of a meeting next week of envoys from the 112 countries that have acceded to or ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which prohibits the explosives and calls for clearing areas where they litter the ground — typically during and after conflicts.

Twelve additional nations have signed the convention. The United States and Russia are not among them.

Human Rights Watch’s Mary Wareham, who has long advocated for the 15-year-old convention, states that the coalition was “extremely concerned” about the U.S. decision in July to transfer unspecified thousands of 155mm artillery-delivered cluster munition rounds to Ukraine, following an intense debate among U.S. leaders.

The coalition asserts that more than 20 government leaders and officials have criticized this decision.

In an effort to prevent defections from the convention, Wareham states that supporters hope signatories will “remain steadfast” and not compromise their stance on the treaty in response to the U.S. decision. We have not yet observed this occurring. But there is always a risk.”

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US Officials Believe Cluster Munitions Could Aid Kiev’s Offensive Against Russian Front Lines

U.S. officials contend that the munitions — a type of bomb that explodes in the air and unleashes smaller “bomblets” over a broad area — could assist Kiev in bolstering its offensive and penetrating Russian front lines.

The transfer entails a version of the weapon with a reduced “dud rate,” indicating that fewer of the smaller bomblets fail to detonate. The bomblets can destroy tanks, equipment, and soldiers, simultaneously striking multiple targets.

Wareham, however, cited “extensive evidence of civilian harm caused by these weapons.” It was simply an inexcusable decision.”

According to the report, civilians accounted for 95% of cluster munition casualties last year, which totaled approximately 1,172 across eight countries: Azerbaijan, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Myanmar, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen. The observer noted efforts in Bulgaria, Peru, and Slovakia to eliminate their munitions stockpiles in 2022 and earlier this year.

Last year, 71% of casualties from explosions of cluster-munition remnants were children, according to the report.

Since President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian forces to invade Ukraine in February of last year, Russia has “repeatedly” used cluster munitions in Ukraine, while Ukraine has used them “to a lesser extent.”

The decision by the United States is “certainly a setback,” according to Wareham, “but it is by no means the end of the road for the Convention on Cluster Munitions.”


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Source: ABC News

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