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Last Updated: 11 March 2015

Cluster Munition Ban Policy


The Republic of Iceland signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008.

As of 20 July 2014, Iceland’s ratification of the convention still had not been introduced to parliament for consideration and approval. In May 2014, a government representative informed the CMC that proposed amendments to the country’s existing penal law would be submitted in parliament in the third quarter of 2014 and could be approved by the end of the year, permitting Iceland to ratify. He said the matter of ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions remains on the agenda of Iceland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson.[1]

Icelandic officials have made similar promises every year since 2010 concerning the ratification legislation package. In 2012 and 2013, a government official informed the Monitor that the proposed amendments in relation to the convention would be introduced into parliament for approval by the end of the year.[2] In 2010 and 2011, officials stated that the convention would soon be sent to parliament for approval.[3]

Iceland engaged in the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[4] Iceland attended a conference on the destruction of cluster munitions in Berlin in June 2009 and participated as an observer in the convention’s Third Meeting of States Parties in Oslo, Norway in September 2012. Iceland has not attended any other meetings of the convention.

Iceland voted in favor of recent UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions by the Syrian government forces, including Resolution 68/182 on 18 December 2013, which expressed “outrage” at “continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights…including those involving the use of…cluster munitions.”[5]

On interpretive issues relating to the convention, Iceland has made a strong statement on “interoperability” and the prohibition on assistance. Iceland has said that Article 21 (on relations with states not party) should not be seen as undercutting the obligation in Article 1 not to assist with any activity prohibited by the convention, even during joint military operations with states not party to the convention.[6]

Iceland has not yet provided its views on other important issues related to the interpretation and implementation of the convention, such as the prohibition on transit, the prohibition on investment in the production of cluster munitions, or the prohibition on foreign stockpiling of cluster munitions. In 2013, a Ministry for Foreign Affairs official informed the Monitor that Iceland would state its views on these interpretive issues once the ratification is approved.[7]

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

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

Iceland has stated that it has never stockpiled, used, produced, or transferred cluster munitions.[8]


[1] CMC meeting with Thordur J. Sigtryggsson, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Iceland to the UN in Geneva, 29 May 2014.

[2] Emails from Pétur G. Thorsteinsson, Minister Counsellor, Office of the Legal Adviser, Directorate of International and Security Affairs, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 6 May 2013 and 18 April 2012.

[3] Statement by Ingibjörg Davíðsdóttir, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Icelandic Mission in Vienna and Chair of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Forum for Security Cooperation, Special Event on Stockpile Destruction in Erdőkertes, Hungary, 24 March 2011. Notes by Action on Armed Violence; email from Pétur G. Thorsteinsson, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 16 March 2010; and email from Pétur G. Thorsteinsson, Head, Arms Control and Disarmament, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 5 March 2009.

[4] For details on Iceland’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), p. 91.

[5]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution A/RES/68/182, 18 December 2013. Iceland voted in favor of a similar resolution on 15 May 2013.

[6] Upon adopting the convention text in Dublin in May 2008, Iceland stated, “While the article [21] sets out an appeal to States which are not parties to join the regime of the Convention, it recognizes the need for continuing cooperation in what is hoped will be a short transition period. This intention is captured clearly in paragraph 3 of the Article which should not be read as entitling States Parties to avoid their specific obligations under the Convention for this limited purpose. The decision to reinforce this position by listing some examples in paragraph 4 cannot therefore be interpreted to allow departures in other respects.” Statement of Iceland, Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions, 30 May 2008.

[7] Email from Pétur G. Thorsteinsson, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 6 May 2013.

[8] Ibid., 5 March 2009.