Marshall Islands

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 13 September 2021

Summary

Non-signatory the Marshall Islands has supported the goal of prohibiting cluster munitions, but has not taken any steps to join the ban convention. The Marshall Islands has never attended a meeting of the convention. However, it voted in favor of a key United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2020.

The Marshall Islands is not known to have used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions.

Policy

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

The Marshall Islands has never commented on its position on accession to the convention.[1]

During the Oslo Process that created the convention, the Marshall Islands participated in the Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions in February 2008 and endorsed the Wellington Declaration agreeing to conclude a legally binding instrument.[2] Yet it did not attend the subsequent Dublin negotiations or the convention’s Signing Conference in Oslo.

The Marshall Islands has never participated in a meeting of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

In December 2020, the Marshall Islands voted in favor of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution urging states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[3] It has voted in favor of the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since 2015.

The Marshall Islands has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions expressing outrage at the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2020.[4] It voted in favor of a similar UN Human Rights Council resolution condemning use of cluster munitions in Syria in June 2020.[5]

The Marshall Islands is the only Mine Ban Treaty signatory to have never ratified. It is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

The Marshall Islands is not known to have ever used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions.



[1] In October 2009, a government representative indicated that joining the convention would require a realistic assessment of existing treaty commitments. Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC)/International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) meeting with Caleb Christopher, Legal Advisor, Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the UN in New York, 16 October 2009. Notes by CMC/ICBL.

[2] Statement of the Marshall Islands, Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, 22 February 2008. Notes by the CMC.

[3]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions”, UNGA Resolution 75/62, 7 December 2020.

[4]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 75/193, 16 December 2020. Marshall Islands voted in favor of similar resolutions in 2013–2019.

[5]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” Human Rights Council Resolution 43/28, 22 June 2020.


Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 18 December 2019

Policy

The Republic of the Marshall Islands signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 4 December 1997. The Marshall Islands is the last signatory that has still not ratified the Mine Ban Treaty. It confirmed in June 2008 that it has not produced mines and has no known stockpiles.[1]

Representatives of the mission of the Marshall Islands based in Fiji met with Special Envoy on the Universalization Prince Mired in August 2011, during which they were invited “to participate in the work of this Convention even while their accession deliberations continue.”[2]

The Marshall Islands re-engaged in the Mine Ban Treaty process in 2008, but did not attend any meetings held in 2009–2019.[3] In November 2008, a representative of the Marshall Islands informed States Parties that the government strongly supported the goals and objectives of the Mine Ban Treaty, but cited its relationship with the United States (US) and the burden of treaty participation on small states as principal reasons for not ratifying.[4]

A US Department of State cable made public by Wikileaks in August 2011 provides “talking points” for US officials to respond to a “request” from the Marshall Islands for clarification on the US position on Mine Ban Treaty ratification by the Marshall Islands.[5]

According to the September 2009 cable from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, US officials met with representatives from the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau on 2 December 1997, two days before the Marshall Islands signed the Mine Ban Treaty. In the meeting, the US said that “adherence to the Convention is up to each state based on its assessment of its own national interest,” but emphasized that “the U.S. would not adhere to the Ottawa Convention and that adherence by the other three states could conflict with defense provisions of the respective bilateral Compacts of Free Association.”

In the cable, the US describes “the defense provisions” of the compacts as “unique, especially the U.S. commitment to defending the Republic of the Marshall Islands as if it were part of the United States.” The US cites three sections of its Compact of Free Association with the Marshall Islands that it believes would be contradicted by the Marshall Islands’ ratification and adherence to the Mine Ban Treaty.[6] The cable also states that ratification “would be problematic if the United States needed to store anti-personnel landmines” at sites in the Marshall Islands.[7] Finally, the US warns that ratification “also affects the ability of citizens of RMI [Republic of the Marshall Islands] to serve in the U.S. armed forces under Compact section 341.”

Also according to the September 2009 cable, the US “requests” the Marshall Islands to “consider acceding” to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) “rather than the Ottawa Convention in order to be more consistent with the Compact of Free Association.”

The Marshall Islands is not party to the CCW and the Monitor is not aware of any initiative by the Marshall Islands to join this agreement. The Marshall Islands is also not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.



[1] Statement by Rina Tareo, Permanent Mission of the Marshall Islands to the UN, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on General Status and Operation, Geneva, 2 June 2008.

[2] Statement by Prince Mired Raad Al Hussein of Jordan, Special Envoy on the Universalization, Mine Ban Treaty Eleventh Meeting of States Parties, Phnom Penh, 1 December 2011.

[3] The Marshall Islands attended the Ninth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in November 2008, the regional workshop on the Mine Ban Treaty convened by Palau in August 2008, and the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in Geneva in June 2008. These meetings marked the country’s re-engagement on a ban on mines; it had last attended a Mine Ban Treaty meeting in 1997.

[4] Statement by Rina Tareo, Mine Ban Treaty Ninth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 26 November 2008.

[5] “Concerns on Marshall Islands Ratification of the Ottawa Convention,” US Department of State cable 09STATE91952 dated 3 September 2009, released by Wikileaks on 26 August 2011, www.cablegatesearch.net.

[6] The cable cites Sections 311–313. Section 311 provides that the “Government of the United States has full authority and responsibility for security and defense matters in or relating to the Republic of the Marshall Islands.” Section 312 provides that “Subject to the terms of any agreements negotiated in accordance with sections 321 and 323, the Government of the United States may conduct within the lands, waters and airspace of the RMI the activities and operations necessary for the exercise of this authority and responsibility under this Title.” Section 313 provides that the “Government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands shall refrain from actions that the Government of the United States determines, after consultation with that Government, to be incompatible with its authority and responsibility for security and defense matters in or relating to the (RMI).” “Concerns on Marshall Islands Ratification of the Ottawa Convention,” US Department of State cable 09STATE91952 dated 3 September 2009, released by Wikileaks on 26 August 2011, www.cablegatesearch.net.

[7] Section 321 of the Compact of Free Association permits the US to establish and use defense sites in the RMI. “Concerns on Marshall Islands Ratification of the Ottawa Convention,” US Department of State cable 09STATE91952 dated 3 September 2009, released by Wikileaks on 26 August 2011, www.cablegatesearch.net.


Mine Action

Last updated: 18 June 2010

Mine Ban Policy

Mine ban policy overview

Mine Ban Treaty status

Signatory

Pro-mine ban UNGA voting record

Voted in favor of Resolution 64/56 in December 2009, for the fifth consecutive year

Participation in Mine Ban Treaty meetings

Did not participate in the Second Review Conference in November–December 2009

Policy

The Republic of the Marshall Islands signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 4 December 1997, but has yet to ratify it.  In October 2009, a representative of the Marshall Islands said that the country’s November 2009 ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty would help clear the way for the government to tackle ratification of the Mine Ban Treaty.[1]

In 2008, the Marshall Islands re-engaged in the Mine Ban Treaty process, but did not commit to ratify within a specific period.[2] In June 2008, the Marshall Islands said that it could not provide “a timeline or detailed approach” for ratification due to “limited technical capacity” and pressing demands including climate change.[3] In November 2008, a representative of the Marshall Islands said that the government strongly supported the goals and objectives of the Mine Ban Treaty, but cited its relationship with the United States and the burden of treaty participation on small states as principal reasons for not ratifying.[4]

The Marshall Islands confirmed in June 2008 that it has not produced landmines and has no known stockpiles.[5]

The Marshall Islands is not party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.



[1]ICBL meeting with Caleb Christopher, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of the Marshall Islands to the UN, New York, 16 October 2009. See ICBL, “Report on CMC/ICBL Lobby Meetings: UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 12–23 October 2009.”

[2] The Marshall Islands attended the Ninth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in November 2008, the regional workshop on the Mine Ban Treaty convened by Palau in August 2008, and the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in Geneva in June 2008.  These meetings marked the country’s re-engagement on a ban on landmines; it had last attended a Mine Ban Treaty meeting in 1997.

[3] Statement by Rina Tareo, Chargé d’Affaires, Permanent Mission of the Marshall Islands to the UN, Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 2 June 2008. See also, Landmine Monitor Report 2008, p. 787.

[4] Statement by Rina Tareo, Permanent Mission of the Marshall Islands to the UN, Ninth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 26 November 2008.

[5] Statement by Rina Tareo, Permanent Mission of the Marshall Islands to the UN, Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 2 June 2008.