Estonia

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 04 September 2020

Ten-Year Review: Non-signatory Estonia accepts the humanitarian rationale for banning cluster munitions, but it has never taken any steps to accede to the convention. Estonia has never participated in a meeting of the convention, even as an observer. It abstained from voting on a United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2019.

Estonia states that it has never used or produced cluster munitions. It has shared limited information on its stockpiled cluster munitions.

Policy

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

Estonia has acknowledged the humanitarian rationale for banning cluster munitions, but did not comment on the convention in 2019.[1] Previously, in 2012 and 2013, Estonia said its lack of accession to the convention was due to the cost and time required to replace its stockpiled cluster munitions.[2]

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.[3]

Estonia promised to review its policy on banning cluster munitions once deliberations on the weapons by the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) concluded. However, it has not revised its position or proposed new talks since the CCW failed in November 2011 to adopt a new instrument on cluster munitions, effectively ending CCW deliberations on the matter and leaving the Convention on Cluster Munitions as the sole international instrument to specifically address the weapons.[4]

Estonia has never 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 Ninth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2019.

Estonia abstained from voting on a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution in December 2019, which urges states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[5] It has abstained from the vote on the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

In 2015–2018, Estonia endorsed a joint UNGA statement on cluster munitions made by Poland on behalf of itself and other European Union (EU) member states that are not party to the convention—Finland, Greece, and Romania—that reiterates the need to meet their own “legitimate security concerns and military and defence needs.”[6] Poland did not provide another statement on behalf of the same group of states at UNGA in 2019.

Estonia has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions expressing outrage at the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2019.[7] It has also voted in favor of Human Rights Council resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria.[8]

Estonia is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also party to the CCW.

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.”[9]

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 told the Monitor that the Estonian Defense Forces possess DM632 155mm artillery projectiles in “small amounts…for training and defensive purposes.”[10]



[1] In an April 2016 letter, the director for security policy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated 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.” Letter to Mary Wareham, Advocacy Director, Arms Division, Human Rights Watch (HRW), from Mariin Ratnik, Security Policy Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, 13 April 2016.

[2] Cluster Munition Coalition (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] 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.

[4] 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.

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

[6] Statement of Poland (on behalf of Estonia, Greece, Finland, and Romania), UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 8 November 2018; statement of Poland (on behalf of Greece, Estonia, Finland, and Romania), UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 31 October 2017; statement of Poland (on behalf of Greece, Estonia, 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, Finland, and Romania), UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 4 November 2015.

[7]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 74/169, 18 December 2019. Estonia voted in favor of similar resolutions in 2013–2018.

[8]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.

[9] 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.

[10] 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: 18 December 2019

Policy

The Republic of Estonia acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 12 May 2004, becoming a State Party on 1 November 2004. 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.

Estonia attends meetings of the treaty quite regularly, including the Third Review Conference in Maputo in June 2014. More recently, Estonia attended the Mine Ban Treaty Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in November 2018, where it gave a general statement, and the intersessional meetings in May 2019.[1] Estonia served as co-rapporteur and then co-chair of the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction from 2005–2007.

Estonia is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Amended Protocol II on landmines and Protocol V on explosive remnants of war. Estonia is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Production, use, transfer, and stockpiling

Estonia has never used, produced, exported, or imported antipersonnel mines, including for training purposes. In its initial Article 7 transparency report in 2005, Estonia did not declare any antipersonnel mines retained for research and training purposes, nor has it done so in any subsequent transparency report. However, in March 2000, a Foreign Ministry official told Landmine Monitor that Estonia possessed “less than 1,000” antipersonnel mines that it used for training.[2]

There are unpopulated islands in the Finnish gulf that were mined during WWII. They present only a minor danger, because no one lives on the islands and they are protected from visitors. These islands are the only mined areas in Estonia.



[1] Statement of Estonia, Mine Ban Treaty Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 26 November 2018.

[2] Interview with Malle Talvet, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 March 2000.


Support for Mine Action

Last updated: 30 September 2019

In 2018, the Republic of Estonia contributed US$30,000 to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) to mine action activities in Iraq.[1]

From 2014–2018, Estonia’s contribution ranged from $20,000 to more than $110,000.

Summary of contributions 2014–2018[2]

Year

Recipient

Amount (US$)

2018

UNMAS (Iraq)

30,000

2017

UNMAS (Iraq and Syria)

60,000

2016

Ukraine

110,720

2015

UNMAS

20,000

2014

Palestine (Gaza strip)

20,000

Total

 

240,720

 



[1] UNMAS, “Annual Report 2018,” April 2019, pp. 28-29.

[2] See previous Monitor reports.