Armenia

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 04 September 2020

Ten-Year Review: Non-signatory Armenia says it cannot accede to the convention until its dispute with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied territories is resolved. Armenia has participated in meetings of the convention, but not since 2014. It abstained from voting on a key annual United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention since 2015.

Armenia reported in 2012 that it does not produce, export, stockpile, or use cluster munitions, and has no intent to do so. There is credible evidence that cluster munitions were used in Nagorno-Karabakh in April 2016, but Armenia denied such use and said Azerbaijan was responsible.

Policy

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

Armenia has consistently stated that it cannot consider joining the convention unless Azerbaijan also does so and after a settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is reached.[1] Nagorno-Karabakh is claimed by Azerbaijan but under the control of a breakaway governing authority.

Armenia did not participate in the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[2]

Armenia participated as an observer in several Meetings of States Parties of the convention, but not since 2014.[3]

In December 2019, Armenia abstained from the vote on a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution that calls on states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[4] It has repeatedly abstained from voting on this annual UNGA resolution since it was first introduced in 2015.

Armenia has expressed concern at use of cluster munitions, describing it as “a grave violation” of international humanitarian law.[5]

Armenia has not joined the Mine Ban Treaty or the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

Armenia has stated several times that it does not produce, export, stockpile, or use cluster munitions, and has no intent to do so.[6] According to independent arms trade research organizations and local media, Armenia acquired six BM-30 Smerch multi-barrel rocket launchers from Russia in 2016 and 2017, but it is not known if the deal included cluster munition rockets.[7]

Cluster munition contamination in Nagorno-Karabakh dates from the 1988–1994 conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.[8] There are reports of contamination in other parts of occupied Azerbaijan, adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh, which are under the control of Armenian forces.[9]

There is evidence that at least two types of ground-fired cluster munition rockets were used in Nagorno-Karabakh during the first week of April 2016, during fighting across the line of contact separating local Armenian-backed separatists and Azerbaijani forces. Armenia’s Ministry of Defense issued photographs showing the remnants of 300mm Smerch cluster munition rockets that it claimed Azerbaijan fired into Nagorno-Karabakh, while an article stated that Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh “do not possess weaponry of this kind.”[10] Cluster Munition Monitor was not able to conduct an independent investigation to make a conclusive determination about responsibility for this cluster munition use.

(See the separate profile on Nagorno-Karabakh.)



[1] Letter No. 19/06300 from Armen Yedigarian, Director, Department of Arms Control and International Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 29 April 2010; and Letter No. 13/15938 from Arman Kirakosian, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), 5 November 2008. Both letters assert that Azerbaijan “still stores a significant quantity and uses the Cluster Munitions.” As of May 2018, the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia stated, “Azerbaijan is a country which still stores a significant quantity of cluster munitions.” In 2014, Armenia said it hopes to join the convention, but not at this time due to the security situation in the southern Caucasus and the “war-like attitude of Azerbaijan.” Statement of Armenia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, 3 September 2014. Notes by the CMC.

[2] For details on Armenia’s policy and practice regarding cluster munitions through early 2010, see ICBL, Cluster Munition Monitor 2010 (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2010), pp. 193–194.

[3] Armenia participated as an observer in the convention’s Meetings of States Parties in 2011–2012 and 2014, as well as intersessional meetings in 2013.

[4]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 74/62, 12 December 2019.

[5] Statement of Armenia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, 3 September 2014. Notes by the CMC.

[6] Letter from Samvel Mkrtchian, Department of Arms Control and International Security, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 13 March 2012; statement of Armenia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 16 April 2013; and statement of Armenia, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fifth Meeting of States Parties, San Jose, 3 September 2014. Notes by the CMC.

[7] Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Arms Trade database report for Armenia by supplier, 2010–2017; and Emil Danielyan, “Russia details fresh arms supply to Armenia,” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 19 February 2016.

[8] Nagorno-Karabakh is not recognized by any UN member state. Prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the parliament of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Province voted in 1988 to secede from the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) and join the Armenian SSR, which resulted in armed conflict from 1988–1994. The region declared independence as the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in 1991.

[9] There are reports of contamination in the Fizuli, Terter, and Tovuz districts. Azerbaijan Campaign to Ban Landmines, “Cluster Munitions in Azerbaijan,” undated.

[10] “Armenian MOD provides factual proof of prohibited cluster missile use by Azerbaijani army,” ArmenPress, 6 April 2016.