US Stormed for Sending Cluster Munitions to Ukraine Amid Civilian Outcry

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Supporters of the international agreement prohibiting cluster munitions, weaponry notorious for causing excessive civilian casualties, are working tirelessly to maintain the treaty’s backing. The recent controversy stems from a contentious move by the U.S. to supply Ukraine with these munitions amid their confrontation with Russia, a decision that a top human rights organization has deemed “unconscionable.”

The Cluster Munitions Coalition, comprised of various advocacy entities, disclosed their most recent annual report on Tuesday, in preparation for the impending gathering of delegates from 112 countries who have ratified or acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. This convention not only disallows these deadly explosives but also mandates the remediation of regions beleaguered by such remnants, a common post-conflict scenario.

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An additional 12 nations have appended their signatures to the convention, although notable absences include the US and Russia. Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch, a relentless advocate of the decade-and-a-half-old accord, conveyed the coalition’s grave apprehension regarding America’s move in July. This decision, followed by heated discussion among U.S. leaders, involved the transportation of countless 155mm artillery-delivered cluster munition rounds to Ukraine.

This act by the U.S. sparked criticism from an assortment of over 20 government leaders and officials, as indicated by the coalition. Wareham hopes that the convention’s endorsers will remain resolute and not allow their endorsement of the treaty to waver in light of America’s resolution. However, she acknowledges the latent threat that they may do so.

Defending their stance, U.S. officials maintain that these munitions – bombs that discharge smaller “bomblets” far and wide upon aerial detonation – could aid Kyiv in breaking Russian defenses and strengthening its assault. U.S. authorities additionally contend the shipped munitions possess a lowered “dud rate,” resulting in a lesser count of unexploded bomblets, capable of simultaneously striking numerous targets, such as tanks, equipment, and troops.

Yet, Wareham cites substantial proof of civilian damage caused by these weapons, calling the U.S decision “unconscionable.” The coalition’s report indicates that last year civilians composed 95% of recorded cluster munitions casualties, tallying at approximately 1,172 individuals across eight countries, including Azerbaijan, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Myanmar, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen. The report lauded the effort in countries like Bulgaria, Peru, and Slovakia to eradicate their munitions stockpiles in 2022 and early this year.

The report also disturbingly reveals that children constituted 71% of all casualties from unexploded cluster munition remnants in the previous year. Furthermore, it alleges repeated utilization of cluster munitions in Ukraine by Russia since President Putin authorized an invasion in February of the preceding year while noting a more minor use by Ukraine.

Despite the setback attributed to the U.S. decision, Wareham remains positive, asserting that this is not the demise of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.