ALERT – Recent uses of cluster munitions like in the Armenia-Azerbaijan war show that our fight to eradicate this weapon is far from over | November 25, 2020
Released today, the 2020 Cluster Munition Monitor report reveals that attacks involving cluster munitions continued to occur. Globally in 2019, at least 286 people were killed or injured by cluster munition attacks and remnants in a total of 9 countries and two territories. Victims are always civilians, says the report. Recent uses in the Armenia-Azerbaijan […]
Released today, the 2020 Cluster Munition Monitor report reveals that attacks involving cluster munitions continued to occur.
Globally in 2019, at least 286 people were killed or injured by cluster munition attacks and remnants in a total of 9 countries and two territories. Victims are always civilians, says the report. Recent uses in the Armenia-Azerbaijan war (not registered in the Monitor 2020 covering year 2019) show that our fight to eradicate this weapon is far from over.
The 2nd Review Conference of the Oslo Convention, which bans cluster munitions, is due to take place online on November 25th to 27th. HI is calling on all states to systematically condemn any use by any party to a conflict, under any circumstances of these barbaric weapons and is requesting all states not yet party to join this live-saving convention.
Major Findings of the 2020 Cluster Munition Monitor report
Up to 40% of cluster munitions do not explode on impact when they are launched during an attack, but remain as active deadly device that can explode any time. In 2019, casualties from such unexploded cluster munition remnants were recorded in 9 countries and two territories: Afghanistan, Iraq, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Libya, Serbia, South Sudan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria, Yemen and Western Sahara.
The Monitor recorded 286 new cluster munition casualties in 2019 globally caused either by attacks using these weapons (221) or as a result of cluster munition remnants (65). It represents a sharp decline from 951 recorded in 2016, mainly due to a change in the Syrian conflict context.
Between July 2019 and July 2020, new uses of cluster munitions were reported in Syria and Libya. At least 11 cluster munition attacks occurred in Syria between August 2019 and July 2020. Since mid-2012, the Monitor has recorded at least 686 cluster munition attacks in the country. In 2019, there were also several instances or allegations of cluster munition use in Libya.
According to successive Monitor reports, 99% of cluster munition victims are civilians. The majority of annual casualties in 2019 (80%) were recorded in Syria, as has been the case since 2012.
In 2019, Iraq had the highest recorded casualties due to cluster munition remnants (20). Victims of cluster munition remnants were also recorded in Yemen (9) and Afghanistan (5). 40 years after the conflict, casualties continue to be recorded in Lao PDR (5).
These figures highlight the dramatic consequences of using cluster munitions, which create long-term contamination by explosive remnants and a deadly threat for the population.
Recent uses by Azerbaijan and Armenia forces
Recent uses by Azerbaijan and Armenia forces occurred in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. They were not registered in the Monitor 2020, which covers 2019.
According to Human Rights Watch, Armenian forces either fired or supplied cluster munitions in an attack on Barda city, reportedly killing at least 21 civilians and wounded at least another 70. The Azerbaijan army used cluster munitions in at least four separate incidents.
These recent uses – and the ones registered in Syria and Libya by the Monitor 2020 – must incite more States to join the Oslo Convention that since 2010 bans the use, production, transfer and storage of cluster munitions. So far, 110 are States parties to the Convention and 13 signatories. Azerbaijan, Armenia and Syria did not sign the Convention yet, also countries like United States Russia and China continue to refuse to join it.
The Oslo Convention must become a universal norm.