Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Thailand quibbles over cluster bomb definition

Thailand quibbles over cluster bomb definition

Thailand quibbles over cluster bomb definition

The Thai government said yesterday that it disputes the description of weapons it used during border clashes with Cambodia in February as cluster bombs, an internationally condemned weapon.

On Wednesday, the Cluster Munitions Coalition said it had “conclusive” evidence that Thailand had deployed cluster munitions, which are banned by a 2008 treaty signed by 108 countries and ratified by 55, after two on-site investigations together with confirmation from the Thai ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva.

Neither Cambodia nor Thailand have signed the treaty, which entered into force in August.

Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn said yesterday the Thai military had used 155-milimetre Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munition in the clashes, but that the military does not consider the weapons to be cluster munitions. When questioned whether Thailand used cluster weapons during the conflict, he said: “The answer is, according to the military, no.”

The CMC disagrees.
Laura Cheeseman, director of the organisation, said the weapon “is most definitely a cluster munition.”

“Every country considers DPICM as cluster munitions,” she said in an email from London, and added that the weapons were defined as clusters in the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions and its draft protocol.

“It has the effects and impact of a cluster munition and has been well documented in several conflict[s] to cause harm to civilians during and after attacks,” she said, citing the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Georgia over the last decade.

Cluster munitions have been internationally condemned because of their long-term consequences for civilians.

The shells split open after they are launched, or dropped by air, scattering bomblets across a wide area. These bomblets often lie dormant for years before exploding, leaving a lasting threat.

Heng Rattana, director general of the Cambodian Mine Action Centre, said DPICM were “clearly” part of the cluster munitions ban.

Panitan said the military had used DPICM in retaliation for alleged Cambodian BM-21 rocket fire that hit Thai civilians, though he was not sure how many civilian casualties had occurred.

Heng Rattana said BM-21 were “conventional weapons”.

MOST VIEWED

  • EU officials: Ending EBA an 18-month procedure

    EU officials have confirmed that it will take a total of 18 months to complete the procedure if Cambodia’s preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) trade agreement is to be withdrawn. According to EU Agriculture and Rural Development spokesman Daniel Rosario, the formal process has not

  • IPU slams government claim

    The president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Gabriela Cuevas Barron, has refuted a claim by the National Assembly that she “highly appreciated the achievements of Cambodia” in its July national elections with a tweet saying “Of course not!” before adding “No congratulations”. A delegation from

  • Conflict lingers on Paris Accords

    As the Kingdom prepares to commemorate on October 23 the 27th anniversary of the signing of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, which ushered in an end to nearly two decades of civil war, there is political conflict on whether the tenets of the agreement are still being

  • EU agrees VN trade deal despite rights concerns

    The EU on Wednesday agreed to a free-trade agreement (FTA) with Vietnam, a country described as having a “major rights-abusing government”. This comes amid the 28-nation bloc preparing the procedure for a possible withdrawal of Cambodia’s Everything But Arms (EBA) preferential trade agreement on