Finland

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 05 September 2023

Summary: Non-signatory Finland acknowledges the humanitarian concerns raised by cluster munitions, but has not taken any steps to accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Finland has participated as an observer in every meeting of the convention, most recently the Tenth Meeting of States Parties in August–September 2022. Yet it abstained from voting on a key United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution promoting the convention in December 2022.

Finland has never used or produced cluster munitions. Finland imported cluster munitions and possesses stocks, but has not provided information on the quantities and types stockpiled.

Policy

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

Finland often acknowledges the humanitarian rationale for the convention, but has not taken any steps to accede to it.[1] The Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy has conducted annual reviews of Finland’s position on joining the convention since 2009, but it has never recommended a policy change.[2] In 2017, Finland said that it “continues to regularly evaluate progress in military technologies and developments,” but that “no such changes in conditions have taken place which would as yet enable accession.”[3]

One obstacle to accession is Ministry of Defence concerns about the cost of replacing stockpiled cluster munitions with other weapons.[4] Officials have also cited costs of implementing the convention’s provisions, as well as security concerns, as reasons for the lack of accession.[5]

Finland participated throughout the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but consistently expressed reservations about the process as well as the convention text, and did not support a broad categorical ban on cluster munitions.[6]

Finland joined the consensus adoption of the convention in May 2008, but later announced that it would not sign it in Oslo in December 2008.[7] At the time, Minister of Defence Jyri Häkämies argued that “cluster munitions play an important role in the credibility [and] autonomy…of Finnish defense.” Finland’s military claimed that its stockpiled cluster munitions could not be replaced with alternative weapons within five to 10 years, and cited security concerns over its border with Russia.[8]

Finland has participated as an observer in every meeting of the convention, most recently the Tenth Meeting of States Parties held in Geneva in August–September 2022.

In December 2022, Finland abstained from voting on a key UNGA resolution urging states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[9] Finland has abstained from the vote on the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

In 2015–2018, Finland 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—Estonia, Greece, and Romania—which reiterated the need to meet their own “legitimate security concerns and military and defence needs.”[10]

In March 2022, Finland endorsed a joint statement by eight Nordic-Baltic states that condemned Russia’s use of cluster munitions in Ukraine, calling it one of several “inhuman and immoral actions [that] embody Russia’s disregard for international law, including international humanitarian law, and the principles upon which the UN is based.”[11]

At the UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in October 2018, Finland delivered a statement on behalf of the Nordic countries, which expressed concern at the use of cluster munitions.[12] Finland has also voted in favor of UNGA resolutions expressing outrage at use of cluster munitions in Syria.[13]

Finland is party to the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

According to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, “Finland does not produce cluster munitions nor has [it] used them.”[14]

In early 2005, Patria, a Finnish company, agreed to co-produce a 120mm cluster munition mortar bomb called MAT-120, then manufactured by the Spanish company Instalaza SA. Patria and the Finnish Defence Forces canceled the deal in 2009, after Spain signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[15]

Finland possesses one type of cluster munition: the DM-662 155mm artillery projectile, which contains 49 dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions with self-destruct fuzes.[16] The Monitor has requested but never received information on the size and composition of Finland’s cluster munition stockpile.[17]

In 2006, the Netherlands announced a transfer of 18 M270 multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) launchers to Finland.[18] It was reported that 400 M26 rockets (each containing 644 M77 DPICM submunitions) were included in the sale for qualification testing and conversion into training rockets.[19]

According to standard international reference publications, Finland also possesses BM-21 Grad and RM-70 122mm surface-to-surface rocket launchers, but it is not known whether the version possessed by Finland includes cluster munition payloads.[20]

In February 2023, the Finnish Defence Forces announced that it will order more 155mm BONUS Mk II artillery shells, a cluster munition replacement produced by Nexter Munitions of France.[21]



[1] Finland has provided similar responses to the Monitor in previous years. See, Letter No. HEL7M1332-18 from Sannamaaria Vanamo, Director, Unit for Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 22 May 2017; letter from Timo Soini, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to Mary Wareham, Advocacy Director, Arms Division, Human Rights Watch (HRW), 16 May 2016; Letter No. HEL7M0241-16 from Sannamaaria Vanamo, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 21 April 2015; Letter No. HEL7M0241-11 from Markku Virri, Director, Unit for Arms Control, Disarmament, and Non-Proliferation, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 27 April 2014; Letter No. HEL7M0241-23 from Markku Virri, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, to the CMC, 30 August 2013; letter from Erkki Tuomioja, Minister for Foreign Affairs, 27 April 2012; Letter No. HEL7913-3 from Markku Virri, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 10 March 2011; email from Pentti Olin, Adviser, Ministry of Defence, 27 April 2010; and letter from Mari Männistö, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 26 February 2009.

[2] A 2009 government report on “Finnish Security and Defence Policy” found that the convention “significantly impacts Finland’s defence and its resource requirements” and announced that the matter of Finland’s accession would be reassessed annually by the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy. “Finnish Security and Defence Policy 2009, Government Report,” Prime Minister’s Office Publications 13/2009, 5 February 2009, p. 64. Finland also stated in 2011 that it was monitoring implementation of the convention and undertaking a study of “the Defence Force’s capabilities and the international development work on cluster munitions, procurement options and costs.” Letter No. HEL7913-3 from Markku Virri, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 10 March 2011. In April 2015, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs stated that “Finland continues to regularly evaluate progress in military technologies and the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy monitors the situation on an annual basis.” Letter No. HEL7M0241-16 from Sannamaaria Vanamo, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, to Mary Wareham, HRW, 21 April 2015.

[3] Letter No. HEL7M1332-18 from Sannamaaria Vanamo, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 22 May 2017. Previously, in April 2016, Finland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Timo Soini, informed the Monitor that, “we acknowledge the Convention’s role from the humanitarian perspective and its goals for universalization,” but also explained that “no such changes in conditions have taken place which would enable accession.” Letter from Timo Soini, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to Mary Wareham, HRW, 16 May 2016.

[4] CMC meeting with Saila Söderman, Advisor, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Convention on Cluster Munitions Third Meeting of States Parties, Oslo, 14 September 2012.

[5] CMC meeting with Jukka Pajarinen, First Secretary, Unit for Arms Control, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Convention on Cluster Munitions intersessional meetings, Geneva, 7 April 2014; and statement of Poland (speaking on behalf of Finland), UNGA First Committee, 70th Session, 24th Meeting, New York, 4 November 2015.

[6] For details on Finland’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. 202–204.

[7] “Disarmament: Finland Refuses to Sign Cluster Bomb Ban,” Europolitics, 4 November 2008. In a February 2009 letter to HRW, Finland stated that the decision was made by the President and the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy. Letter from Mari Männistö, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 26 February 2009.

[8] “Disarmament: Finland Refuses to Sign Cluster Bomb Ban,” Europolitics, 4 November 2008; “Finland Opts Out of Cluster Munitions Ban Treaty,” BBC Monitoring Europe, 3 November 2008; and “Why is Finland reluctant to ban cluster bombs?,” Mainichi Daily News, 7 December 2008.

[9]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 77/79, 7 December 2022.

[10] Statement of Poland (on behalf of Estonia, Finland, Greece, and Romania), UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 8 November 2018; statement of Poland (on behalf of Estonia, Finland, Greece, and Romania), UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 31 October 2017; statement of Poland (on behalf of Estonia, Finland, Greece, and Romania), UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 31 October 2016; and statement of Poland (on behalf of Estonia, Finland, Greece, and Romania), UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 4 November 2015. Poland did not provide a statement on behalf of the same group of states in 2019–2022.

[11] Statement of Lithuania on behalf of eight Nordic-Baltic states (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden), UNGA, New York, 23 March 2022.

[12] Statement of Finland on behalf of the Nordic countries, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 25 October 2018. See also, statement of Finland on behalf of the Nordic countries, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 8 October 2015; and statement of Finland on behalf of the Nordic countries, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 18 October 2017.

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

[14] Letter from Mari Männistö, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 26 February 2009.

[15] During the development of the program, Patria imported to Finland 305 “live” MAT-120 cluster bombs from Spain in 2005–2007 and acquired 230 inert MAT-120 cluster bombs. As of July 2011, a total of 136 “live” MAT-120 cluster bombs remained in the custody of the Finnish Defence Forces, while none of the MAT-120 munitions imported to Finland were exported. The company also noted that: “Patria does not develop, produce or sell cluster ammunition products.” Patria press release, “Patria’s mortar systems have not been used to fire cluster ammunition in Libya,” 7 July 2011.

[16] Email from Tiina Raijas, Ministry of Defence, 8 June 2005.

[17] Email from Pentti Olin, Ministry of Defence, 27 April 2010.

[18] Netherlands Ministry of Defence press release, “Finland Receives Two MLRS Batteries,” 13 January 2006.

[19] Joris Janssen, “Dutch Plan to Update Cluster Weapons,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, 19 October 2005.

[20] International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), The Military Balance 2016 (London: Routledge, 2016); and Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2008, CD-edition, 3 December 2007 (Surrey: Jane’s Information Group, 2008).

[21] Thomas Lauge Nielson, “Finland Orders BONUS Mk II Artillery Rounds,” European Security & Defence, 27 February 2023.