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Cluster Munitions Used in Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
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November 2020

Long-simmering tensions in the Nagorno-Karabakh region bordering Armenia and Azerbaijan broke out in late September with shelling between Azerbaijani forces and those of the Armenian-backed but internationally unrecognized state of Artsakh. The conflict has seen the use of cluster munitions, and civilian casualties have resulted.

Azerbaijan has been accused by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International of using Israeli-made M095 cluster bombs. Switzerland, as president of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, issued a statement expressing deep concern and condemnation of any use of the weapons by any actor involved. The treaty, which has 110 states-parties, bans the use of the weapons. Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Israel have not signed the pact.

Azerbaijan made counterclaims that Armenia used cluster munitions in its own attacks on Azerbaijan, but has yet to provide evidence.

Cluster munitions, which are air dropped or artillery delivered, release up to several hundred smaller submunitions that often fail to explode as intended, at times detonating years later. Civilians account for the vast majority of victims.

States-parties to the convention are scheduled to meet for the treaty’s second review conference on Nov. 23–27.—ALEXANDER BERTSCHI WRIGLEY