Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 19 June 2019

Summary: State Party Iceland ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 31 August 2015, after enacting implementing legislation. It has participated in meetings of the convention, but not since 2015. Iceland voted in favor of a key United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2018.

Iceland states that it has never used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions. It must provide a transparency report for the convention to formally confirm this status.


The Republic of Iceland signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008, ratified on 31 August 2015, and the convention entered into force for the country on 1 February 2016.

Iceland enacted ratification legislation on 10 July 2015 that also serves as its implementing legislation for the convention, imposing penal sanctions and fines for violations. [1]

As of 15 June 2019, Iceland had not submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report for the convention, which was originally due by 31 July 2016. 

Iceland participated in the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions. [2] It attended a conference on the destruction of cluster munition stocks in Berlin in June 2009.

Iceland has participated in two meetings of the convention, including the First Review Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia in September 2015. [3] It was invited to, but did not attend, the Eighth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2018.

In December 2018, Iceland voted in favor of a key UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution promoting implementation of the convention. [4] Iceland has voted in favor of the annual UNGA resolution since it was first introduced in 2015.

Iceland has also voted in favor of UNGA resolutions expressing outrage at the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2018. [5]

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

Interpretive issues

Iceland has expressed its views on “interoperability,” the prohibition on assistance, and other interpretive issues relating to the convention. Upon joining in the consensus adoption of the convention’s text in 2008, Iceland said that Article 21 (on relations with states not party) should not be seen as undercutting the obligation in Article 1 not to assist with any activity prohibited by the convention, even during joint military operations with states not party to the convention. [6] At the First Review Conference in September 2015, Iceland recalled that the language contained in Article 21 “was drafted to deal with particular concerns” and “recognizes the need for continuing cooperation” with states not party to the convention. It affirmed that paragraph 3 of Article 21 “should not be read as entitling States Parties to avoid their specific obligations under the Convention for this limited purpose.”

Iceland’s implementation law does not address the prohibitions on transit or foreign stockpiling of cluster munitions. Iceland has expressed its support for “prohibiting investments in producers of cluster munitions.” [7]

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

Iceland must submit a transparency report for the convention to formally confirm it has never produced cluster munitions and possesses no stocks, including for research and training purposes. In the past, Iceland stated that it has never stockpiled, used, produced, or transferred cluster munitions. [8] The Ministry for Foreign Affairs states that Iceland does not possess cluster munitions. [9]


 [1] Iceland’s parliament (Althingi) adopted legislation on 30 June 2015, and it was then signed into law on 10 July 2015. Law 83 imposes penal sanctions of between six months’ and four years’ imprisonment as well as fines for violations of its ban on the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster munitions. The legislation does not explicitly address the question of assistance with those activities. Law 83 applies to both individuals and companies, and it covers actions committed outside its borders by Icelandic citizens and legal entities. See, Law 83, “Act on the implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions” (“Lög um framkvæmd samnings um klasasprengjur”), 10 July 2015.

 [2] For details on Iceland’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), p. 91. According to a 2007 United States (US) diplomatic cable released publicly by Wikileaks in 2011, the US sought to engage senior Icelandic officials during the Oslo Process with respect to US concerns about “interoperability” (joint military operations with states not party). In a May 2007 meeting, the US reportedly explained that a draft “Lima” text “would have an immediate negative impact on NATO operations and other joint military activities which Iceland has expressed its support for.” The cable concluded that because “Iceland has no military, there are few voices within the GOI that will argue for—or be naturally inclined to agree with—the military necessity of cluster munitions, meaning the default policy will likely be one of supporting Norwegian efforts. In response, Post will increase our engagement with those actors more open to NATO-related concerns on a cluster munitions ban.” See, “Iceland not in favor of cluster munitions ban, but is closely following Norwegian position,” US Department of State cable 07REYKJAVIK154 dated 22 May 2007, released by Wikileaks on 1 September 2011.

 [3] Iceland also attended the Third Meeting of States Parties in Oslo, Norway in September 2012.

 [4]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 73/54, 5 December 2018.

 [5]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 73/182, 17 December 2018. Iceland voted in favor of similar resolutions in 2014–2017.

 [6] Upon adopting the convention text in Dublin in May 2008, Iceland stated, “While the article [21] sets out an appeal to States which are not parties to join the regime of the Convention, it recognizes the need for continuing cooperation in what is hoped will be a short transition period. This intention is captured clearly in paragraph 3 of the Article which should not be read as entitling States Parties to avoid their specific obligations under the Convention for this limited purpose. The decision to reinforce this position by listing some examples in paragraph 4 cannot therefore be interpreted to allow departures in other respects.” Statement of Iceland, Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions, 30 May 2008.

 [7] Statement of Iceland, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Review Conference, Dubrovnik, 7 September 2015.

 [8] Email from Pétur G. Thorsteinsson, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 5 March 2009.

 [9] Ministry for Foreign Affairs, “International Security Issues: Cluster Munitions,” August 2010.