GENEVA - Russian forces’ repeated use of cluster munitions has caused lasting harm to hundreds of Ukrainian civilians, according to this year’s global Cluster Munition Monitor report. Ukraine is the only country in the world where cluster munitions are being used today.
The report, which tracks efforts to eradicate cluster munitions by all countries, notes least 689 civilians died from cluster munition attacks between February and July. In Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, Russian cluster munition attacks struck homes, city streets, and parks, as well as an outpatient clinic at a maternity hospital and a cultural center, a Human Rights Watch investigation found.
Ukrainian forces also appear to have used cluster munitions rockets on at least two occasions. The use of cluster munitions , which disperse submunitions that can maim and kill like landmines for years, is prohibited by the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.
110 countries have ratified and 13 more have signed the Convention, and while neither Russia nor Ukraine are parties to it, the indiscriminate nature of such weapons, particularly when deployed in built-up areas, would still make their use a likely war crime under international law.
“All countries should condemn the use of these weapons under any circumstances,” says Mary Wareham , arms advocacy director at Human Rights Watch and editor of the Cluster Munition Monitor 2022. The Cluster Munition Monitor is the annual monitoring report by the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), a global coalition of nongovernmental organizations co-founded and chaired by Human Rights Watch.
Cluster munitions can be fired from the ground by artillery, rockets, and mortars, or dropped by aircraft. They typically open in the air, dispersing multiple bomblets or submunitions over a wide area. Many submunitions fail to explode on initial impact, leaving dangerous duds that can indiscriminately maim and kill like landmines for years, until they are cleared and destroyed.
he report will be presented to countries attending the 10th annual meeting of the Convention on Cluster Munitions at the United Nations in Geneva next week.