Are "cluster bombs" aerially-deployed landmines?

last updated 9 October 2006


Following its strategy of attempting to throw light on deceit of all kinds, Clarion is starting a compilation of information on this page on the question of whether so-called "cluster bombs" are a disguise for aerially-deployed landmines. The motivations for such a deceit could include placating public opinion and circumventing legal restrictions on landmines.

Evidence for such motivations is not hard to find. The Arms Project of Human Rights Watch - formed in 1992 with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation - asserts:

In addition to landmines, which are deliberately designed to be a delayed-action weapon, so-called antipersonnel "submunitions" - including cluster bombs and bomblets - create many of the same hazards as landmines because a high percentage fail to explode when delivered. Submunitions are not covered by the Landmines Protocol, because they are not designed as a delayed-action weapon, but insofar as they fail to explode and remain live, they pose virtually the same risks. Submunitions were used extensively in the Gulf War.
Landmines a deadly legacy, The Arms Project a division of Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, 1993 ISBN 1-56432-113-4, page 10

(The authors of this book seem a little coy about putting their names to it, but buried on page 509 in "Acknowledgements" we read that one Kenneth Anderson, director of the Arms Project, wrote Chapter 1, from which the above quote is taken. The front page states: "The Arms Project of Human Rights Watch was formed in 1992 with a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation for the purposes of monitoring and seeking to prevent arms transfers to governments or organizations that either grossly violate internationally recognized human rights or grossly violate the laws of war".)

There are several points to note from this short quotation.

  1. A high percentage of cluster bombs "fail" (for unstated reasons) to explode on delivery.
  2. They "create many of the same hazards" and "pose virtually the same risks" as landmines
  3. Despite all this, HRW Arms Project asserts - without a shred of evidence - that these bombs were not "designed" as a delayed-action weapon.
  4. The HRW Arms Project further asserts that these bombs are immune from whatever legal restrictions the Landmine Protocol represented.