Holy See

Last Updated: 05 October 2012

Mine Ban Policy

The Holy See signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 4 December 1997 and ratified it on 17 February 1998, becoming a State Party on 1 March 1999. The Holy See has never used, produced, imported, exported, or stockpiled antipersonnel mines, including for training purposes. The Holy See believes that new legislation specifically to implement the Mine Ban Treaty is unnecessary. In 2012, the Holy See submitted its 12th Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report, indicating that all information remains unchanged from the previous report.

The Holy See attended the Eleventh Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in Phnom Penh in November–December 2011, delivering a statement during the general exchange of views where it highlighted the importance of victim assistance.[1] In May 2012, the Holy See participated in the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in Geneva.

The Holy See is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Amended Protocol II on landmines and Protocol V on explosive remnants of war.


[1] Statement of the Holy See, Mine Ban Treaty Eleventh Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 29 November 2011.

Last Updated: 12 August 2014

Cluster Munition Ban Policy


The Holy See signed and ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008. It was among the first 30 ratifications to trigger the convention’s entry into force on 1 August 2010.

The Holy See has declared that its existing laws are sufficient to enforce implementation of the convention and specific legislation is “unnecessary as it has never used, developed, produced, otherwise acquired, stockpiled, retained, or transferred cluster munitions.”[1]

The Holy See submitted its initial Article 7 report for the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 20 January 2011 and provided annual updated reports indicating no change in 2012 and 2013.[2]

The Holy See played a leading role throughout the Oslo Process to develop the convention as a member of the “Core Group” of states that facilitated the process and actively sought the strongest possible convention.[3]

The Holy See has continued to actively engage in the work of the Convention on Cluster Munitions since 2008. It has participated in every Meeting of States Parties of the convention, including the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in Lusaka, Zambia in September 2013. The Holy See has attended all of the convention’s intersessional meetings in Geneva, including those held in April 2014.

At the Fourth Meeting of States Parties, the Holy See called on all users, producers, and stockpilers of cluster munitions to join the convention without delay and emphasized the need for states, international organizations, and civil society to continue efforts to universalize the convention’s norm so that “the use of cluster munitions becomes as taboo as the use of antipersonnel mines and other banned weapons.”[4]

The Holy See has served as co-coordinator for the general status and operation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Interpretive issues

The Holy See has provided its views on several important issues related to the interpretation and implementation of the convention. The Holy See has indicated that it considers foreign stockpiling and transit of cluster munitions to be banned by the convention, stating that “a careful reading of the Convention brings us to support the prohibition against a State Party stockpiling or helping to transport cluster bombs within its national territory, taking into account paragraphs 6, 7 and 8 of Article 3 of the Convention.”[5]

On the prohibition of investment in cluster munition production, the Holy See has stated that “In a world ever more globalized and interdependent, some countries produce or possess production methods or invest in the military industry, outside their national borders. It is important for the integrity of the Convention and for its application to include these investments in the list of prohibitions.”[6]

On the prohibition on assisting states not party with acts prohibited by the convention during joint military operations (interoperability), the Holy See has stated, “In relation to Article 21, joint military operations do not imply, in any way, a suspension of the obligations under the Convention. ‘States Parties, their military personnel or nationals’ shall never engage in activities prohibited by the Convention. On the contrary, joint military operations should be opportunities for States Parties to promote the standards introduced by the new instrument with the objective to protect civilians during and after armed conflicts.”[7]

The Holy See has not yet provided its views on the retention of cluster munitions for training and research purposes.

The Holy See is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

In its initial Article 7 report, the Holy See declared that it has “never used, developed, produced, otherwise acquired, stockpiled, retained or transferred cluster munitions.”[8]


[2] As of 27 June 2014, the Holy See had not yet submitted the annual update due by 30 April 2014. The initial Article 7 report covers the period “until 20 January 2011” while the report submitted in 2012 covers calendar year 2011 and the 2013 report is for calendar year 2012.

[3] For details on the Holy See’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 87–89.

[4] Statement of the Holy See, Convention on Cluster Munitions Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Lusaka, 11 September 2013.

[5] Statement by Khamse Vithavong, Holy See, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Meeting of States Parties, Vientiane, 9 November 2010. Notes by the CMC/Action on Armed Violence.

[6] Ibid.

[7] “Declaration Attached to the Instrument of Ratification to the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” The Holy See, 21 November 2008.