Austria

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 29 July 2015

Five-Year Review: State Party Austria was amongst the first 30 ratifications to trigger the entry into force of the convention on 1 August 2010. It adopted national legislation banning cluster munitions in 2007. Austria has attended all of the convention’s meetings and has served as the convention’s coordinator on victim assistance. Austria promotes universalization of the convention and has consistently condemned new use of cluster munitions, including in South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen. Austria has also elaborated its views on a number of important issues for the interpretation and implementation of the convention.  

In its initial transparency report for the convention provided in 2011 Austria confirmed it has never used, produced, or exported cluster munitions and no longer possesses them, including for research or training purposes. It completed the destruction of a stockpile of 12,672 cluster munitions and 798,336 submunitions in November 2010.

Policy

The Republic of Austria signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008 and ratified on 2 April 2009. Austria was among the first 30 ratifications to trigger the convention’s entry into force on 1 August 2010.

Austria became the second country after Belgium to pass national legislation on cluster munitions in December 2007, when it passed the Federal Act on the Prohibition of Cluster Munitions, which entered into force on 8 January 2008.[1] The law prohibits “the development, production, acquisition, sale, procurement, import, export, transit, use and possession of cluster munitions” in Austria and requires the destruction of stockpiled cluster munitions within three years.[2]

Austria submitted its initial Article 7 report for the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 26 January 2011 and has provided annual updated reports since, most recently in February 2015.[3]

As a member of the small core group of nations that steered the Oslo Process to its successful conclusion, Austria played a crucial leadership role in securing the Convention on Cluster Munitions, including by hosting a key meeting of the Oslo Process in Vienna in December 2007. During the formal negotiations of the convention in Dublin in May 2008, Austria played a vital role in securing acceptance of the convention’s groundbreaking provisions on victim assistance.[4]

Austria plays a leading role in the work of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It has participated in every Meeting of States Parties of the convention, including the Fifth Meeting of States Parties in San José, Costa Rica in September 2014. Austria has attended all of the convention’s intersessional meetings held in Geneva since 2011, including in June 2015.

Austria promotes the convention and its universalization often, using “every appropriate occasion at bilateral and multilateral levels.”[5] In June 2015, it said that recent use of cluster munitions underscores the need to further universalize the norms of the convention and called on states that are not party to accede to the convention as soon as possible.[6] At the UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in October 2014, Austria emphasized the need for all states to join the convention and described the convention’s First Review Conference as an “important milestone in further strengthening the norms of the [Convention on Cluster Munitions] to the inside and the outside.”[7]

Austria is one of the strongest defenders of the emerging international norm against any use of cluster munitions, which the convention seeks to establish. Since 2010, it has condemned or expressed concern at new use of cluster munitions in Cambodia, Libya, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen.[8]

At the intersessional meetings in June 2015, Austria condemned the use of cluster munitions in Syria and Ukraine and expressed deep concern at evidence of cluster munition use in 2015 in Libya, Sudan, and Yemen. It called for a full investigation to determine those responsible for the use and ensure their prosecution.[9] In September 2014, Austria condemned the use of cluster munitions in Syria and expressed concern at reported use in South Sudan and Ukraine.[10]

At the UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in October 2014, Austria expressed concern at reports of the use of cluster munitions in Ukraine and called on “all actors to refrain from the use of these indiscriminate weapons.”[11]

At a preparatory meeting for the First Review Conference on 24 June 2015, Austria urged States Parties to clearly condemn the use of cluster munitions in order to send a strong political message and strengthen the norms underpinning the convention.[12] It affirmed the obligation of all States Parties to take action to discourage any use of cluster munitions.[13]

Austria was the first country to express concern at Syria’s cluster munition use, raising the topic when the first reports emerged in July 2012.[14] It has since condemned the use of cluster munitions in Syria on numerous occasions at the ministerial level and in various fora.[15] Austria has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria, including Resolution 69/189 on 18 December 2014, which expressed “outrage” at the continued use.[16] In 2014, Austria voted for two Human Rights Council resolutions that condemned the use of cluster munitions in Syria.[17]

Austria has championed the convention’s provisions on victim assistance and served as the convention’s first coordinator on victim assistance until September 2013. Austria is also a strong proponent of the partnership between governments, international organizations, and civil society, which underpins the convention, describing partnership as “crucial for the convention to maximize its potential.”[18]

CMC-Austria, which is coordinated by Austrian Aid to Mine Victims, campaigns in support of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Austria has continued to provide financial support to the work of the CMC to promote the convention’s universalization and implementation.[19]

Interpretive issues

Austria has elaborated its views on a number of important issues relating to the interpretation and implementation of the convention, including the prohibition on assistance with prohibited acts, and the prohibition on transit and foreign stockpiling.

Austria’s implementation law for the convention specifically prohibits transit of cluster munitions.[20] In Austria’s view, the “transit of cluster munitions across or foreign stockpiling of cluster munitions on the national territory of States Parties is prohibited by the Convention. In this regard Article 1 paragraph b is of particular interest as it states a clear prohibition of transferring as well as stockpiling cluster munitions. Should a State Party to the Convention allow a foreign state to stockpile cluster munitions on its territory, this action would be in violation with the provision entailed in Article 1 paragraph c that prohibits assistance ‘to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party.’”[21]

On Article 21 (relations with states not party) or “interoperability,” Austria has stated that the article “leaves room for some interpretation, especially as to paragraph 4. The whole question of interoperability is one that…Austria has always accorded concern.”[22] During the Oslo Process, Austria stated that it has a national penal law that acts as a filter to protect service people from unjust prosecutions in instances where others may use cluster munitions. Austria said it was possible that in the future it might not be able to participate, or may consciously choose not to participate, in joint military operations where cluster munitions might be used.[23]

In 2012, Austria underlined that “all State Parties are obliged to undertake best efforts to discourage States from using cluster munitions” and said that “exceptions in national legislation with respect to interoperability clauses risk to run counter to the object and purpose of the Convention.”[24]

Austria’s Federal Act on the Prohibition of Cluster Munitions does not explicitly prohibit investment in the production of cluster munitions.

Use, production, and transfer

Austria has stated that it has never used, produced, or exported cluster munitions.[25] Austria has declared that it has no cluster munition production facilities.[26]

Austria acquired DM632 artillery projectiles containing M85 submunitions from Israel’s state-owned Israel Military Industries (IMI) in 1998 and 1999 for €10.44 million (US$14.3 million).[27]

Stockpile destruction

Austria declared a stockpile of 12,669 155mm DM632 artillery projectiles and 798,147 M85 submunitions. Its national law required that stockpile be destroyed within three years, by January 2011.[28]

In November 2010, Austria completed the destruction of 12,672 155mm DM632 artillery projectiles and 798,336 M85 submunitions.[29] The bulk of the cluster munitions were destroyed from February to November 2010 by a company in Lachiano, Italy through a process of dismantling, recycling, and incineration of the explosive materials.[30]

Prior to entry into force, in February 2010 the Austrian Armed Forces destroyed three 155mm DM632 artillery projectiles containing 189 submunitions during a dismantling and destruction test in Felixdorf, Austria.[31]

Retention

Austria is not retaining any cluster munitions for training or research purposes.[32]



[1] The National Council and the Federal Council enacted the law on 6 and 20 December 2007, respectively, and it entered into force on 8 January 2008. On 12 March 2009, the Austrian National Council approved a motion amending the law to bring its definition of cluster munitions in line with the definition contained in the convention. A second motion authorized ratification of the convention. On 26 March, the Federal Council assented to both motions.

[2] “Federal Act on the Prohibition of Cluster Munitions” (“Bundesgesetz über das Verbot von Streumunition”), GP XXIII RV 232 AB 350 S. 42. BR: AB 7873 S.751, Bundesgesetzblatt für die Republik Österreich, Bundeskanzleramt Rechtsinformationssystem (Federal Law Gazette for the Republic of Austria, Federal Chancellery Legal Information System), 7 January 2008.

[3] The initial report covers calendar year 2010, while the 24 April 2012 report is for calendar year 2011, the April 2013 report covers calendar year 2012, the April 2014 report covers calendar year 2013, and the February 2015 report covers calendar year 2014.

[4] For details on Austria’s policy and practice regarding cluster munitions through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 35–38. During the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions at a reception hosted by the Austrian government in honor of civil society, CMC-Austria launched a publication report on the history of the parliamentary and legislative process in Austria towards the ban on cluster munitions. See, CMC-Austria, “Banning Cluster Munitions: The Austrian Process: An NGO Perspective,” 11 November 2010.

[5] Statement of Austria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Lusaka, 10 September 2013.

[6] Statement of Austria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 23 June 2015.

[7] Statement of Austria, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 13 October 2014.

[8] Statement of Austria, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 22 October 2014; Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs press release, “Foreign Minister Spindelegger condemns use of cluster munitions in Sudan,” Vienna, 5 June 2012; and Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs press release, “Foreign Minister Spindelegger condemns deployment of cluster munitions,” 18 April 2011.

[9] Statement of Austria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 23 June 2015. Notes by Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA). Austria appealed for States Parties to fully bring into effect the norms of the convention, without any loopholes in national legislation, and to make their best efforts to discourage the use of cluster munitions as an important aspect contributing to their stigmatization.

[10] CMC, “Summary of Decisions, General Exchange of View, Universalization and Reactions to Use of Cluster Munitions at Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties,” September 2014.

[11] Statement of Austria, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 22 October 2014.

[12] Statement of Austria, Second Preparatory Meetings for the Convention on Cluster Munitions First Review Conference, Geneva, 24 June 2015. Notes by NPA.

[13] Statement of Austria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 23 June 2015.

[14] Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs press release, “Spindelegger: ‘Requesting urgent clarification on the use of cluster munitions in Syria’” (“Spindelegger: ‘Fordere dringende Aufklärung über die Verwendung von Streumunition in Syrien’”), 13 July 2012; and statement of Austria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Meeting of States Parties, Beirut, 13 September 2011.

[15] On 15 October 2012, Austria’s Foreign Minister, Michael Spindelegger, issued a statement calling on Syria to cease using this banned weapon and join the Convention on Cluster Munitions. At a European Union meeting in October 2012, Austria’s State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Reinhold Lopatka, said, “We most strongly condemn the use of cluster munitions by the Syrian army against its own civilian population.” See Foreign Minister Press Statement, “Spindelegger on Syria: ‘Use of cluster munitions would be a blatant violation of human rights’” (“Spindelegger zu Syrien: ‘Einsatz von Streumunition wäre eklatante Menschenrechtsverletzung’”), 15 October 2012; Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs press statement, “Lopatka: ‘Syria’s neighbouring countries need EU support in dealing with refugees,’” 15 October 2012.

[16]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution A/RES/69/189, 18 December 2014. Austria voted in favor of similar resolutions on 15 May and 18 December2013.

[17]The continuing grave deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UN Human Right Council Resolution A/HRC/RES/25/23, 9 April 2014; and “The continuing grave deterioration in the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UN Human Rights Council Resolution A/HRC/RES/26/23, 17 July 2014.

[18] Statement by Robert Gerschner, Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Lusaka, 10 September 2013.

[19] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form J, undated but April 2014.

[20] “Federal Law on the Prohibition on Cluster Munitions” (“Bundesgesetz über das Verbot von Streumunition”), sec. 2. An unofficial English translation of Austria’s law specifically uses the word “transit.”

[21] Letter from Amb. Nikolaus Marschik, Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, 9 March 2009, italics in the original.

[22] Letter from Amb. Marschik, Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, 9 March 2009.

[23] Statement of Austria, Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, 19 February 2008. Notes by the CMC. Austria affirmed that its 40-year tradition of active participation in UN peacekeeping missions would be unaffected by the convention. After the entry into force of its national law, Austria continued to participate in UN operations, however, it now looked at missions more carefully and requested its partners not to use cluster munitions.

[24] Statement of Austria, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 11 September 2012.

[25] Letter from Amb. Marschik, Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, 9 March 2009.

[26] Austria reported “not applicable” in forms D (Technical characteristics of cluster munitions produced/owned or possessed) and E (Status and progress of programmes for conversion or decommissioning of production facilities). Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Forms D and E, 26 January 2011. In its second, third, and fourth Article 7 reports, Austria left forms D and E blank. Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Reports, Forms D and E, undated but April 2014; undated but April 2013; and 24 April 2012.

[27] The Austrian term for the cluster munitions is “Hohlladungssprengkörpergranaten 92.” See email from Wolfgang Banyai, Department for Arms Control and Disarmament, Ministry for European and International Affairs, 22 July 2011; reply by Minister of Defence Norbert Darabos to the Parliamentary Questions (723/J) submitted by Member of Parliament Caspar Einem and colleagues and addressed to the Minister of Defence concerning the procurement of cluster munitions (Cluster Bombs and Howitzergrenades) by the Austrian Armed Forces, 26 June 2007. Average exchange rates for 2010: €1=US$1.3261; for 2009: €1=US$1.3935; for 2008: €1=US$1.4726; for 2007: €1=US$1.3711. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 6 January 2011.

[28] “Federal Law on the Prohibition on Cluster Munitions” (“Bundesgesetz über das Verbot von Streumunition”), sec. 4. In June 2009, Austria stated that a tendering process had been launched with destruction to be completed in 2010. Statement of Austria, Berlin Conference on the Destruction of Cluster Munitions, 25 June 2009. Notes by Action on Armed Violence (AOAV).

[29] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Reports, Form B, April 2014; April 2013; 24 April 2012; 26 January 2011; Letter GZ.BMeiA-AT.2.07.41/0055-II.8b/2010 from Amb. Marschik, to Judith Majlath, CMC-Austria, 29 July 2010; Letter No. BMeiA-AT.2.07.41/0021-II.8b/2011 from Amb. Kmentt, Ministry for European and International Affairs to Mary Wareham, Human Rights Watch (HRW), 21 April 2011; and email from Wolfgang Banyai, Ministry for European and International Affairs, 22 July 2011.

[30] Email from Wolfgang Banyai, Ministry for European and International Affairs, 22 July 2011.

[32] In its Article 7 reports, Austria has stated “not applicable” on Form C on cluster munitions retained for training and research purposes. Convention on Cluster Munition Article 7 Reports, Form C, 26 January 2011. See also Letter No. BMeiA-AT.2.07.41/0021-II.8b/2011 from Amb. Kmentt, Ministry for European and International Affairs to Mary Wareham, HRW, 21 April 2011.

Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 02 October 2012

The Republic of Austria signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified it on 29 June 1998, becoming a State Party on 1 March 1999. Production, export, and use of antipersonnel mines were formally renounced in September 1995. In 1996, Austria enacted legislation to implement the Mine Ban Treaty domestically. In 2012, Austria submitted its 13th Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report.

Austria destroyed its stockpile of antipersonnel mines, including 116,000 M14 mines from the United States and small quantities of prototypes, in 1996. Austria did not retain any antipersonnel mines for training.

Austria served as co-rapporteur and then co-chair of the Standing Committees on the General Status and Operation of the Convention (2001–2003) and Victim Assistance (2005–2007), and was the president of the First Review Conference in 2004.

Austria attended the Eleventh Meeting of States Parties in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in November-December 2010 and the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in Geneva in May 2012. At the intersessional meetings, Austria strongly condemned recent allegations of new use of antipersonnel mines. Austria called on the states facing allegations to fully investigate and clarify reports in a transparent manner, to urgently clear contaminated areas to prevent further casualties, and to do their utmost to ensure that mines are never used again. Austria welcomed efforts to advance the universalization of the treaty during the year, including in partnership with civil society and international organizations, and reaffirmed its commitment to use all appropriate bilateral and multilateral opportunities to promote the treaty.[1]

Austria is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Amended Protocol II on landmines and Protocol V on explosive remnants of war.



[1] Statement by Caroline Wörgöter, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Austria in Geneva, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 25 May 2012.

Support for Mine Action

Last updated: 29 August 2013

In 2012, the Republic of Austria contributed €702,000 (US$902,702) to six countries in mine action funding,[1] a decrease of 67% from 2011. Austria provided support to mine action through UNDP, UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), ICRC, the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining, the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action, and the ICBL-CMC.

Contributions by recipient: 2012[2]

Recipient

Sector

Amount (€)

Amount ($)

Ethiopia

Victim assistance

150,000

192,885

Afghanistan

Clearance

135,000

173,597

Albania

Victim assistance

125,000

160,738

Cambodia

Clearance

110,000

141,449

Libya

Clearance, risk education

110,000

141,449

Lebanon

Victim assistance

40,000

51,436

Global

Advocacy

32,000

41,149

Total

 

702,000

902,702

 

Austria contributed €315,000 ($405,059) or 45% of its funding to victim assistance through the ICRC, UNMAS, ITF (International Trust Fund) Enhancing Human Security, and Albania.

Contributions by thematic sector: 2012

Sector

Amount (€)

Amount ($)

% of total contribution

Clearance

355,000

456,495

51

Victim assistance

315,000

405,059

45

Advocacy

32,000

41,149

4

Total

702,000

902,702

100

 

From 2008–2011, Austria averaged €1.7 million ($2.3 million) per year; in 2012, Austria lowered its contribution to €700,000 ($900,000). Austria’s contribution to mine action since 2008 has totaled €7.4 million (more than $10 million), with an annual contribution averaging some €1.5 million ($2.1 million).

Summary of contributions: 2008–2012[3]

Year

Amount (€)

Amount ($)

% change from previous year ($)

2012

702,000

902,702

-67

2011

1,990,000

2,772,269

49

2010

1,405,000

1,863,171

-10

2009

1,480,000

2,062,380

-23

2008

1,823,320

2,685,021

N/A

Total

7,400,320

10,285,543

N/A

 

 



[1] Average exchange rate for 2012: €1=US$1.2859. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 3 January 2013.

[2] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Robert Gerschner, Unit for Arms Control and Disarmament in the Framework of the UN, Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, Austria, 26 February 2013.

[3] See Landmine Monitor reports 2008–2011; and ICBL-CMC, “Country Profile: Austria: Support for Mine Action,” 30 July 2012.