Article 36 condemns Russia’s use of cluster munitions in Ukraine
By Sarah Teffene
Article 36 condemns the use of cluster munitions by Russian armed forces in Ukraine – weapons which are well-known to cause extensive harm to civilians and are banned under the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Several attacks by Russian forces involving the use of cluster munitions have been documented by organisations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Belingcat.
On 24 February 2022, in Vuhledar, eastern Ukraine, a hospital was severely damaged when a 9M79 Tochka ballistic missile carrying cluster munitions struck. Over 10 civilians were injured and 4 were killed. On 25 February, while civilians were seeking safety from ongoing hostilities, a 220mm Uragan rocket dropping cluster munitions struck a nursery and a kindergarten in the town of Okhtyrka, killing three civilians, including one child.
The city of Kharkiv, which is described as being under relentless attack from Russia, appears to have also been the target of numerous cluster munition attacks. Human Rights Watch reported that at least three districts of the city had been targeted with cluster munitions on 28 February, causing the death of nine civilians and injuring thirty-seven others.
Cluster munitions disproportionately imperil civilian lives as they deliver and disperse dozens, even hundreds, of submunitions exploding across a wide area making them extremely inaccurate and likely to overwhelmingly kill and injure civilians. The submunitions have high failure rates and often fail to detonate on first impact. Their use in residential areas is a sign of profound disregard for civilian lives, as well as in violation of the standards set by the treaty that bans them.
Because of their inherent inaccuracy and indiscriminate effects which raises numerous humanitarian concerns, cluster munitions are prohibited under the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions to which 110 states are now party to.