Cluster Munition Ban Policy
Five-Year Review: The Holy See was among the first 30 ratifications to trigger the convention’s entry into force on 1 August 2010. It amended legislation on 11 July 2013 to provide for penal sanctions for violations of the convention’s provisions. The Holy See has participated in all of the convention’s meetings and served as the convention’s co-coordinator for the general status and operation in 2011–2012. The Holy See has elaborated its views on several important issues relating to the interpretation and implementation of the convention. It has expressed regret at new use of cluster munitions.
The Holy See submitted its initial transparency report for the convention on Cluster Munitions on 2011, which confirmed it has never used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions.
The Holy See signed and ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008. It was among the first 30 ratifications to trigger the convention’s entry into force on 1 August 2010.
In April 2015, the Holy See reported for the first time that the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City promulgated Law N. VIII on “Supplementary Norms on Criminal Law Matters” on 11 July 2013, which specifically imposes a minimum penalty of 20 years imprisonment for anyone using or ordering the use of cluster munitions during an armed conflict. The Holy See previously reported in 2011 that specific implementing legislation for the convention was “unnecessary as it has never used, developed, produced, otherwise acquired, stockpiled, retained, or transferred cluster munitions.”
The Holy See submitted its initial Article 7 report for the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 20 January 2011 and has provided updated reports annually, most recently on April 2015.
The Holy See played a leading role throughout the Oslo Process to develop the convention as a member of the Core Group of states that facilitated the process and actively sought the strongest possible convention.
The Holy See has continued to actively engage in the work of the Convention on Cluster Munitions since 2008. 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. The Holy See has attended all of the convention’s intersessional meetings in Geneva, including those held in April 2015.
At the UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in October 2015, the Holy See described the Convention on Cluster Munitions as an example of progress in conventional arms control.
At the Fifth Meeting of States Parties, the Holy See stated it “regrets and condemns” the use of cluster munitions in different conflicts today, which it stated “ignores the applicable rule of international humanitarian law and provokes long term consequences for civilian populations.”
The Holy See served as the convention’s first co-coordinator for the general status and operation together with Zambia in 2011–2012.
The Holy See has provided its views on several important issues related to the interpretation and implementation of the convention. The Holy See has indicated that it considers foreign stockpiling and transit of cluster munitions to be banned by the convention, stating that “a careful reading of the Convention brings us to support the prohibition against a State Party stockpiling or helping to transport cluster bombs within its national territory, taking into account paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 of Article 3 of the Convention.”
On the prohibition of investment in cluster munition production, the Holy See has stated that “In a world ever more globalized and interdependent, some countries produce or possess production methods or invest in the military industry, outside their national borders. It is important for the integrity of the Convention and for its application to include these investments in the list of prohibitions.”
On the prohibition on assisting states not party with acts prohibited by the convention during joint military operations (interoperability), the Holy See has stated, “In relation to Article 21, joint military operations do not imply, in any way, a suspension of the obligations under the Convention. ‘States Parties, their military personnel or nationals’ shall never engage in activities prohibited by the Convention. On the contrary, joint military operations should be opportunities for States Parties to promote the standards introduced by the new instrument with the objective to protect civilians during and after armed conflicts.”
The Holy See has not elaborated its views yet on the retention of cluster munitions for training and research purposes.
The Holy See is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.
Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling
The Holy See has declared that it has “never used, developed, produced, otherwise acquired, stockpiled, retained or transferred cluster munitions.”
 The Holy See reported that “Art 17 (War Crimes) paragraph ‘n’ of the aforementioned Law states that ‘Whoever, in the course of an armed conflict, whether of an international character or not, commits or orders someone to commit one of the following acts:…employing weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering or which are inherently indiscriminate, in violation of the international law of armed conflict, including bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard envelope which does not entirely cover the core or is pierced with incisions, antipersonnel mines and cluster munitions…is punished with no less than twenty years imprisonment.” Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form A, April 2015.
 Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, April 2015. The initial Article 7 report covers the period “until 20 January 2011” while the report submitted in 2012 covers calendar year 2011, the 2013 report is for calendar year 2012, and the 2014 report is for calendar year 2013, each annual report thereafter covers the period of the previous calendar year.
 For details on the Holy See’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 87–89.
 Statement of the Holy See, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 14 October 2014.
 Statement of the Holy See, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San José, 2 September 2014.
 Statement by Khamse Vithavong, Holy See, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Meeting of States Parties, Vientiane, 9 November 2010. Notes by the CMC/Action on Armed Violence.
 “Declaration Attached to the Instrument of Ratification to the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” The Holy See, 21 November 2008.
Mine Ban Policy
The Holy See signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 4 December 1997 and ratified it on 17 February 1998, becoming a State Party on 1 March 1999. The Holy See believes that new legislation specifically to implement the Mine Ban Treaty is unnecessary.
The Holy See regularly attends meetings of the treaty, including the Third Review Conference in Maputo in June 2014, and more recently the Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in November 2018, where it provided a statement on Article 5 clearance efforts. The Holy See regularly submits annual updated Article 7 transparency reports.
The Holy See is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Amended Protocol II on landmines and Protocol V on explosive remnants of war. The Holy See is also party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
The Holy See has never used, produced, imported, exported, or stockpiled antipersonnel mines, including for training purposes.