Latvia

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 11 December 2023

Summary

Non-signatory Latvia has not taken any steps to accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It has never participated in a meeting of the convention, even as an observer, and has consistently abstained from voting on the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution promoting the convention. In August 2022, Latvia’s parliament adopted a resolution condemning Russia’s use of cluster munitions in Ukraine. 

Latvia states that it has never used, produced, stockpiled, or transferred cluster munitions.

 

Policy

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

Latvia has not taken any steps to accede to the convention, but claims to be in de facto compliance with its provisions. In July 2018, Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs remarked that Latvia “fully shares the concerns” over the “indiscriminate use of certain cluster munitions,” and “supports the objectives” of the convention.[1] Latvia has often stated that the humanitarian concerns raised by cluster munitions must be balanced against “security concerns and strategic defense considerations.”[2]

Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials have responded to requests for updates by the Monitor since 2010.[3] In May 2017, Latvia told the Monitor that its position on accession “has not changed” and said it is committed to “act in line” with the convention’s provisions.[4]

Latvia participated as an observer at several meetings of the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions, including the Dublin negotiations in May 2008 and the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008.[5]

Latvia attended the second part of the convention’s Second Review Conference held in Geneva in September 2021, but did not make a statement. This marked the first and only time that it has participated in a meeting of the convention. Latvia was invited to, but did not attend, the Tenth Meeting of States Parties held in August–September 2022.

In December 2022, Latvia abstained from the vote on a key UNGA resolution urging states outside the convention to “join as soon as possible.”[6] Latvia has abstained from voting on the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

In March 2022, Latvia endorsed a joint UNGA statement by eight Nordic-Baltic states condemning 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.”[7]

On 11 August 2022, Latvia’s parliament adopted a resolution condemning Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.[8] The resolution underlines “the immoral and illegal nature of the tactics chosen by Russia as it makes extensive use of particularly cruel and inaccurate weapons,” including its use of “internationally banned cluster munitions” that “sow fear and indiscriminately kill civilians.”[9]

Latvia has also voted in favor of UNGA resolutions expressing outrage at use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2020.[10]

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

 

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

In July 2018, the Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that “Latvia neither produces nor possesses cluster munitions, nor does it store or use them,” adding that “Latvia currently has no plans to acquire or use this type of munitions in future.”[11] Latvia has repeated on several occasions that it has never used, produced, stockpiled, or transferred cluster munitions.[12]

Latvia has often stated that it is committed “to act in line” with the provisions of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and claims that it is de facto compliant.[13]



[1] Letter No. 32-1892 from Edgars Rinkēvičs, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia, 20 July 2018.

[2] Latvia Explanation of Vote on UNGA Resolution 71/45, UNGA, New York, 5 December 2016.

[3] Emails from Martins Pundors, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 19 May 2014 and 30 July 2013; Letter No. 32/63-1434 from Amb. Baiba Braže, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 11 April 2012; email from Ieva Jirgensone, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 14 April 2011; and Letter No. 32/112-1697 from Kaspars Ozolins, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 23 April 2010.

[4] Letter No. 32-11923 from Amb. Ingrida Levernce, Director-General of Security Policy and International Organizations Directorate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Mary Wareham, Advocacy Director, Arms Division, Human Rights Watch (HRW), 11 May 2017.

[5] For details on Latvia’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2010, see ICBL, Cluster Munition Monitor 2010(Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2010), pp. 225–226.

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

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

[8] A total of 67 lawmakers voted for the resolution, while 16 abstained. See, “Latvian Parliament Designates Russia A State Sponsor of Terrorism,” Radio Free Europe, 11 August 2022.

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

[11] Letter No. 32-1892 from Edgars Rinkēvičs, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia, 20 July 2018.

[12] Latvia has stated that it “neither produces nor possesses cluster munitions nor do we store or use them.” Latvia Explanation of Vote, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 4 November 2015. See also, Letter No. 32/202-2010 from Amb. Baiba Braže, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Mary Wareham, HRW, 11 May 2015; email from Martins Pundors, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 30 July 2013; Letter No. 32/112-1697 from Kaspars Ozolins, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 23 April 2010; and email from Ieva Jirgensone, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 14 April 2011.

[13] In a May 2015 letter, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official reiterated Latvia’s “firm support” for the convention and said that the country “de-facto complies” with the convention’s provisions. Letter No. 32/202-2010 from Amb. Baiba Braže, Director-General of Security Policy and International Organizations Directorate, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Mary Wareham, HRW, 11 May 2015. See also, Latvia Explanation of Vote on UNGA Resolution 71/45, UNGA, New York, 5 December 2016.