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Country Reports


The Republic of Croatia signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo on 3 December 2008. In February 2009, the CMC reported that Croatia had started its ratification process and was hoping to be able to obtain the necessary parliamentary approval by April 2009.[1]

Croatia is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), and ratified Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War on 7 February 2005.

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

In November 2006, Croatia was one of 25 states that supported a declaration at the Third CCW Review Conference calling for an agreement that would prohibit the use of cluster munitions “within concentrations of civilians,” prohibit the use of cluster munitions that “pose serious humanitarian hazards because they are for example unreliable and/or inaccurate,” and require destruction of stockpiles of such cluster munitions.[2]

Croatia participated in the initial Oslo Process conference in February 2007, where it stated that it fully supported the Oslo Process and its comprehensive approach.[3] It endorsed the Oslo Declaration committing states to conclude a new convention in 2008. Croatia subsequently participated in all of the international conferences to develop the convention text in Lima, Vienna, and Wellington, as well as the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008. Croatia also participated in the Belgrade conference for affected states in October 2007, and regional conferences in Brussels in October 2007 and Sofia in September 2008.

At the Vienna conference, Croatia announced that it had enacted a moratorium on the use, production, and transfer of cluster munitions and was assessing how to destroy its stockpiles.[4] Throughout the Oslo Process, Croatia emphasized its experience as an affected state and gave priority to victim assistance issues. In Vienna, Croatia stated that victim assistance was a matter of human rights and called for gender and age sensitive language in the treaty. Croatia also stressed the importance of international assistance for affected states.[5]

During the Wellington conference, Croatia advocated strongly for robust provisions on victim assistance, including a broad definition of cluster munitions victims. It called for the inclusion of victims in decision-making processes, using a “nothing about us without us” approach. It also supported stronger language on risk education. Croatia pushed for the inclusion of special responsibilities for past users of cluster munitions and stated, “We only wish to note that it is curious that the same countries that argue for a transition period in the use of cluster munitions are also the countries that are most vociferously opposed to retroactivity.”[6] Croatia opposed extending the stockpile destruction deadline.[7]

At the Dublin negotiations, Croatia continued to lobby for strong provisions on victim assistance.[8] It joined those opposing any transition period during which states could continue to use cluster munitions.[9] However, Croatia spoke in favor of inclusion of provisions on “interoperability” (joint military operations with states not party), citing its participation in 15 peacekeeping operations.[10]

Croatia publicly announced it would sign the convention in Oslo during the Sofia regional conference on 19 September 2008.[11] From 21–24 October, the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Regional Arms Control Verification and Implementation Assistance Centre (RACVIAC) hosted a workshop on the convention.[12] Also in October, the Ban Bus, a mobile advocacy initiative to promote the convention, arrived in Zagreb. Campaigners organized a public action in central Zagreb to raise awareness.

At the CCW in November 2008, Croatia was one of 26 states that issued a joint statement expressing their opposition to the weak draft text on a possible CCW protocol on cluster munitions, indicating it was an unacceptable step back from the standards set by the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[13]

Upon signing the convention in Oslo, Croatia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs said, “All of us present here today have worked long and hard, guided by the thought that particular interests must not stand above the well being of millions of civilians. Firm in the knowledge that for many, many people who will never be present in these rooms, the use of cluster munitions is a matter of life and death – theirs, their children’s and their grandchildren’s life and death, we have tried to write the best possible Convention that we could agree on. That is why Croatia has consistently supported the strong language on victim assistance, the principle of non-discrimination and the necessity of national implementation. And that is also why Croatia will begin already tomorrow the parliamentary process of its ratification.”[14]

Use, Production, Stockpiling, and Transfer

The Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) established that Milan Martić[15] ordered the shelling of Zagreb on 2–3 May 1995 using M87 Orkan rockets equipped with submunitions. At least seven civilians were killed and more than 200 wounded in the attacks.[16] Additionally, the Croatian government has claimed that Serb forces dropped BL-755 cluster bombs in Sisak, Kutina, and along the Kupa River.[17]

In February 2008, Croatia stated that it does not produce cluster munitions, it has no plans for the operational use of cluster munitions, and remaining stockpiles will be destroyed. It said it inherited cluster munitions during the breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.[18]

It is not clear whether any Yugoslav production facilities for cluster munitions or their components were located in Croatia.

Jane’s Information Group lists Croatian forces as possessing KMG-U dispensers (which deploy submunitions) for aircraft and M87 Orkan 262mm rockets (each rocket contains 288 KB-1 dual purpose improved conventional munition, or DPICM, submunitions).[19]

[1] CMC, “CMC Newsletter, February 2009,” 16 March 2009, www.stopclustermunitions.org.

[2] Declaration on Cluster Munitions, Third Review Conference of the States Parties to the CCW, Geneva, CCW/CONF.III/WP.18, 17 November 2006.

[3] Statement of Croatia, Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions, 23 February 2007. Notes by CMC/WILPF.

[4] Statement of Croatia, Vienna Conference on Cluster Munitions, 5 December 2007. Notes by CMC/WILPF.

[5] Ibid, 6 December 2007.

[6] Statement of Croatia, Victim Assistance (Article 4), Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, 20 February 2008.

[7] Croatia stated that deadlines are an effective mechanism for ensuring action and said that stockpile destruction was a matter of political priority. Costs would be off-set by eliminating the cost of storage and, potentially, future accidents. Statement of Croatia, Session on Storage and Stockpile Destruction, Wellington Conference, 21 February 2008. Notes by CMC.

[8] Statement of Croatia, Informal Discussions on Victim Assistance, Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions, 21 May 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[9] Statement of Croatia, Committee of the Whole, Dublin Diplomatic Conference, 23 May 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[10] Statement of Croatia, Informal Discussions on Interoperability, Dublin Diplomatic Conference, 22 May 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[11] Katherine Harrison, “CMC Report from the Sofia Conference on Cluster Munitions – The Way Forward,” 23 September 2008, www.stopclustermunitions.org.

[12] CMC, “Towards Oslo 2008: Workshop on Cluster Munitions,” October 2008, www.stopclustermunitions.org. Participants came from Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, France, Moldova, Norway, Serbia, Slovenia, and Turkey, as well as from the Bulgarian Red Cross, Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining, International Trust Fund, NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency/NATO, UN Mine Action Service, Mine Aid, Norwegian People’s Aid, and Handicap International. Representatives from mine action centers in the region had the opportunity to describe their national experiences with cluster munitions.

[13] Statement delivered by Costa Rica on behalf of Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chile, Croatia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, Indonesia, Ireland, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, Uruguay, and Venezuela, Fifth 2008 Session of the CCW GGE on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 5 November 2008.

[14] Statement by Gordan Jandroković, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference, Oslo, 3 December 2008.

[15] From 4 January 1991 to August 1995, Martić held various leadership positions, including President, Minister of Defense, and Minister of Internal Affairs, in the unrecognized offices of the Serbian Autonomous District (SAO) Krajina, and the Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK).

[16] Trial Chamber of the ICTY, “Summary of Judgment for Milan Martić,” Press release, 12 June 2007, The Hague. In the mid-morning of 2 May 1995, forces of the RSK launched several M-87 Orkan rockets that struck locations in Zagreb, including the main square, several shopping streets, a school, the village of Plešo near Zagreb airport, and the airport itself. Five persons, all civilians, were killed in these attacks, and at least 160 persons were severely injured. The following day, Zagreb was again hit by Orkan rockets. The areas hit were the Croatian National Theatre at Marshall Tito Square and a children’s hospital, as well as another square. These attacks claimed two lives and injured 54 people. The Trial Chamber found that “the M-87 Orkan was fired from the Vojnić area, near Slavsko Polje which is at the extreme of the weapon’s range (50 kilometers). The evidence shows that by virtue of its characteristics and the firing range in this specific instance, the M-87 Orkan was incapable of hitting specific targets. For these reasons, the Trial Chamber has found that the M-87 Orkan is an indiscriminate weapon, the use of which in densely populated civilian areas, such as Zagreb, will result in the infliction of severe casualties.”

[17] Statement of Croatia , Fourth Session of the Group of Governmental Experts to Prepare the Review Conference of the States Parties to the CCW, Geneva, January 1995.

[18] Statement of Croatia, Lima Conference on Cluster Munitions, 23 May 2007. Notes by CMC/WLIPF.

[19] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 837; and Leland S. Ness and Anthony G. Williams, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2007–2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2007), p. 641.