Yemen: use of cluster bombs may be war crime

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on June 8 warned that the use of cluster bombs by the Saudi-led coalition against neighborhoods in Yemen may amount to a war crime. Cluster bombs spread bomblets over a wide area, many of which do not immediately explode, allowing the bomblets to kill or maim civilians long after a conflict ends. They were prohibited by the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions treaty (PDF) adopted by 116 countries, not including Saudi Arabia, Yemen or the US. Of particular concern, the coalition has utilized indiscriminate bombing on several civilian areas in the city of Sanaa, including a wedding hall, chamber of commerce and a center for the blind. In a field visit the UN confirmed use of these munitions, finding remnants of 29 cluster bombs.

This is not the first time the Saudi-led coalition has been accused of using cluster munitions, Human Rights Watch in May announced the use of such bombing. In an attempt to mitigate the conflict between the Saudi-backed Yemen government and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, the UN had sent a human-rights representative. Yemen subsequently ousted the representative, alleging biased reporting.

The UN announced earlier this month that the ongoing conflict is responsible for 8,119 civilian casualties, including 2,795 dead and 5,324 wounded.

From Jurist, Jan. 9. Used with permission.

Note: Rights groups have repeatedly called on the US to cancel arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the absence of serious investigations into alleged laws-of-war violations in Yemen.