Estonia

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 03 July 2018

Summary: Non-signatory Estonia accepts the humanitarian rationale for banning cluster munitions, but it has not taken any steps to accede to the convention. It has never participated in a meeting of the convention, even as an observer, and abstained from voting on a key United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2017. Estonia states that it has never used or produced cluster munitions, but it has never provided information on its stockpile of cluster munitions or estimated cost to destroy it.

Policy

The Republic of Estonia has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

In October 2017, Estonia endorsed a joint statement with four other European Union (EU) member states that are not party to the convention—Greece, Finland, Poland, and Romania—that expresses support for the convention’s “humanitarian goal” but also the importance of meeting the “legitimate security concerns and military and defence needs” of states.[1]

Estonia has often acknowledged the humanitarian rationale for banning cluster munitions but gives the cost and time required to replace its stockpiled cluster munitions as the main reasons that prevent it from acceding to the convention.[2] In an April 2016 letter, the director for security policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Estonia “is not yet in a position to sign and ratify” the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but fully supports the instrument’s “humanitarian goals.”[3] The letter said that “Estonia has no further updates to add to already existing information” concerning its position on banning cluster munitions.

Estonia participated throughout the Oslo Process to develop the Convention on Cluster Munitions and joined in its consensus adoption in Dublin in May 2008, where it described the convention as a “remarkable achievement,” but said it required further consideration.[4]

Estonia promised to review its policy on banning cluster munitions once the “outcome of deliberations” on the weapons by the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) concluded. However, it has not proposed any new CCW work on cluster munitions since the CCW failed in 2011 to adopt a new instrument on the weapons.[5] The failure effectively ended CCW deliberations on the matter, leaving the Convention on Cluster Munitions as the sole international instrument to specifically address the weapons.

Estonia has not participated in a meeting of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, even as an observer. It was invited to, but did not attend, the convention’s Seventh Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2017.

Estonia abstained from voting on a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution in December 2017, which urges states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[6] In 2015 and 2016, Estonia also abstained from the vote on previous UNGA resolutions promoting the convention and also endorsed previous joint statements with other EU member states that have not joined the convention.[7]

Estonia has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions expressing outrage at the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2017.[8] It has also voted in favor of Human Rights Council resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria.[9]

Estonia is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

In 2012, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs affirmed that Estonia “has never produced or used cluster munitions offensively and has no intention to do so in the future.”[10]

Estonia is not known to have exported cluster munitions.

Estonia possesses cluster munitions but has not explained how it acquired them or provided information on the quantity and types stockpiled.

In 2009 and 2010, Estonia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet informed the Monitor that the Estonian Defence Forces possess DM632 155mm artillery projectiles in “small amounts…for training and defensive purposes.”[11]



[1] Statement of Poland (on behalf of Greece, Estonia, Finland, and Romania), UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 31 October 2017.

[2] CMC Austria meeting with Pirit Pikker, Advisor, International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Defence, Convention on Conventional Weapons Meetings of States Parties, Geneva, November 2013; and Letter no. 3-31/6134-1 from Väino Reinart, Undersecretary for Economic Affairs and Development Cooperation, Acting Undersecretary for Political Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Laura Cheeseman, Director, CMC, 16 October 2012.

[3] Letter to Mary Wareham, Human Rights Watch (HRW), from Mariin Ratnik, Security Policy Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, 13 April 2016.

[4] For details on Estonia’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2009, see HRW and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 200–201.

[5] Letter no. 3-31/6134-1 from Väino Reinart, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Laura Cheeseman, CMC, 16 October 2012. This reiterated the position previously expressed to the Monitor by Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, in April 2012. Letter no. 3.3-1/2328-1-1 from Foreign Minister Paet, to Mary Wareham, HRW, 12 April 2012.

[6]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 71/45, 5 December 2016.

[7] Statement of Poland (on behalf of Greece, Estonia, and Finland, and Romania), UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 31 October 2016; and statement of Poland (on behalf of Greece, Estonia, and Finland), UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 4 November 2015.

[8]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 72/191, 19 December 2017. Estonia voted in favor of similar resolutions in 2013–2016.

[9]The grave and deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic,” Human Rights Council Resolution 29/L.4, 2 July 2015. Estonia voted in favor of similar resolutions in 2013 and 2014.

[10] Letter no. 3-31/6134-1 from Väino Reinart, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Laura Cheeseman, CMC, 16 October 2012. This has been confirmed several times by the Estonia’s foreign minister. See, Letter no. 3.3-1/3080-1 from Foreign Minister Paet, 6 April 2011; Letter no. 03.3-1/4591 from Foreign Minister Paet, 29 March 2010; and Letter no. 3.3-1/5341 from Foreign Minister Paet, to Judith Majlath, CMC Austria, 27 April 2010.

[11] Letter no. 03.3-1/4591 from Foreign Minister Paet, 29 March 2010; and letter from Foreign Minister Paet, 12 February 2009. Manufactured by Germany, each DM632 cluster munition projectile contains 63 DM-1383 submunitions with self-destruct features.


Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 02 October 2012

The Republic of Estonia acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 12 May 2004, becoming a State Party on 1 November 2004. Estonia has never used, produced, exported, or imported antipersonnel mines, including for training purposes. The Estonian criminal code and specific legislation which entered into force on 5 February 2004 provide for the imposition of penal sanctions as required by the treaty. On 30 April 2012, Estonia submitted its eighth Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report.

At times Estonia has stated that it had a small stockpile of antipersonnel mines and at other times it has stated that it did not maintain a stockpile. Its Article 7 report for calendar year 2011 states that Estonia does not possess a stockpile of antipersonnel mines or mines retained for training purposes.[1]

Estonia served as co-rapporteur and then co-chair of the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction from 2005–2007.

Estonia did not attend the Eleventh Meeting of States Parties in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in November–December 2011. Estonia attended the intersessional Standing Committee meetings of the treaty in Geneva in May 2012 but did not make any statements.

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

 



[1] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Forms B, D, and G(bis), 30 April 2012.


Support for Mine Action

Last updated: 27 September 2018

In 2017, the Republic of Estonia contributed US$60,000 to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) to mine action activities in Iraq and Syria.[1] 

From 2012–2016, Estonia’s contribution ranged from just under $10,000 to more than $110,000.

Summary of contributions 2012–2017[2] 

Year

Recipient

Amount ($)

2017

UNMAS (Iraq and Syria)

60,000

2016

Ukraine

110,720

2015

UNMAS

20,000

2014

Palestine (Gaza strip)

20,000

2013

Mali

20,000

2012

Libya

9,970

Total

 

230,720

 



[1] UNMAS, “Annual Report 2017,” March 2018, p. 22.

[2] See previous Monitor reports.