A boy walks on the rubble of houses destroyed by Saudi-led airstrikes in Khamis Bani-Saad, Yemen [Image: Abduljabbar Zeyad/Reuters].

The United Kingdom has signed the international Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) – so its sale of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia is a war crime, it seems.

The Convention obliges signatories  “never under any circumstances to”:

(a) Use cluster munitions;
(b) Develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, cluster munitions;
(c) Assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.

In the UK it was ratified in May 2010 and came into force in November 2010 – under the Tory-led Coalition government.

But that same government – and the Tory-only government that succeeded it in May 2015 – has been selling arms to Saudi Arabia, not only until the Convention came into force but right up to today.

We don’t know when the bombs were sold, but the Convention bans the UK from helping anyone to use cluster bombs – including states that have not signed the convention.

So – while Saudi Arabia cannot be prosecuted for using the bombs, the UK may be accused of war crimes for keeping them, supplying them, and allowing them to be used.

And the Conservative Party is responsible.

This seems clear. Do you agree?

Saudi Arabia has finally admitted that it used UK-manufactured cluster bombs against Houthi rebels in Yemen, increasing pressure on the British government which has repeatedly refused to curb arms sales to Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia said it would cease to use UK-manufactured cluster bombs and that it had informed the UK government of this decision.

Ahmed Asiri, a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen, said: “It has become apparent that there was limited use by the coalition of the UK-manufactured BL755 cluster munition in Yemen.”

The decision to stop using the cluster bombs follows an internal Saudi investigation conducted in discussion with the UK. Saudi officials said it had only been completed last week.

The admission came in advance of a statement by Britain’s defence secretary, Michael Fallon, admitting that UK-supplied cluster bombs had been used by Saudi Arabian-led forces. Fallon told the House of Commons that a “limited number” of BL755 cluster munitions exported from the UK in the 1980s had been dropped by the Arab coalition.

While the UK had stopped manufacturing cluster bombs in 1989 and signed up to a convention in 2008 not to use them, neither Saudi Arabia nor the US has signed the convention. Since the UK is an ally of both, and the convention says signatories should not aid or abet countries using them, the legal position is unclear.

Source: Saudi Arabia admits it used UK-made cluster bombs in Yemen | World news | The Guardian

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