NATO's Use of Cluster Munitions in Yugoslavia
The announcement by the U.S. Defense Department at the end of April of a move toward the use of more Aarea weapons in Operation Allied Force, and the reports of a growing shortage of precision-guided weapons, point to an increased use of unguided (dumb) weapons by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in the war against Yugoslavia, including so-called cluster bombs. Human Rights Watch is concerned that the use of cluster bombs raises questions of humanitarian law, and that the use in particular of the CBU-89 Gator scatterable mine would directly violate the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which bans the production, use, trade, and stockpiling of antipersonnel landmines. The extensive use in armed conflict of cluster bombs, which contain large numbers of submunitions, uniquely threatens the civilian population. These submunitions which are expendable because they are designed simply to make them plentiful and individually less expensive are dispersed over large areas, creating a grave lingering danger for the noncombatant civilian population.