Monday, November 3, 2014

An unexploded submunition lies in a field in eastern Ukraine (c) Human Rights Watch, October 2014

An unexploded submunition lies in a field in eastern Ukraine (c) Human Rights Watch, October 2014

Nations including the U.S. are expressing concern at reports that cluster munitions are being used in rocket attacks in eastern Ukraine.

There have been numerous instances of cluster munitions being used in rocket attacks in fighting in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russian-backed rebels since July 2014. According to Human Rights Watch, Ukrainian government forces used cluster munitions in Donetsk city in early October 2014. 

The Cluster Munition Coalition U.S. endorses the international call for Ukraine and Russia to conduct investigations into the attacks and publicly renounce the use of the weapon by joining the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.

In an October 30 statement to the Permanent Council of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna, U.S. OSCE representative Ambassador Daniel Baer said"The United States shares the international community’s concern about the humanitarian impact of the indiscriminate use of all munitions, including cluster munitions. We note that Ukrainian authorities have stated that they did not use cluster munitions and have not and are not targeting populated areas. We continue to call on all actors to take every precaution to protect innocent lives and support an impartial investigation into allegations of abuses. I welcome the Ukrainian Ambassador’s statement that Ukraine supports a thorough investigation."

Ukraine has denied using cluster munitions. President Petro Poroshenko has said "It is savages who use cluster munitions against civilians." In October 2014, a Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson described the use of cluster munitions in eastern Ukraine as "barbaric" and said that "use of cluster munitions in populated areas violates international humanitarian law and may constitute war crimes."

According to the international Cluster Munition Coalition, at least 27 nations have expressed concern at the use of cluster munitions in eastern Ukraine, most at the Fifth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Costa Rica in September 2014.