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Country Reports


The Republic of Italy signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo on 3 December 2008. During a special event to promote the convention at the UN in New York in March 2009, Italy announced that it had begun its ratification process. [1]

Italy is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), but has not ratified Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War.

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Italy’s cluster munition policy evolved significantly from 2006 to 2008. The government of Italy was not an early supporter of a prohibition on cluster munitions. During the CCW Third Review Conference in November 2006, Italy did not join 25 nations in supporting a declaration 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]

In January 2007, Member of Parliament Roberta Pinotti proposed a motion calling on the Italian government to prohibit its armed forces from using cluster munitions in international missions, to promote diplomatic action to create a new CCW protocol prohibiting the production, stockpiling, transfer, and use of cluster munitions, and to take the necessary steps to ratify CCW Protocol V.[3]

Italy participated in the initial conference to launch the Oslo Process in Oslo in February 2007, all three international conferences to develop the convention text in Lima (May 2007), Vienna (December 2007), and Wellington (February 2008), as well as the formal negotiations in Dublin (May 2008).[4]

At the conclusion of the Oslo conference, Italy endorsed the Oslo Declaration committing states to conclude in 2008 a new convention prohibiting cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians. At the same time, it indicated a clear preference for work in the CCW. Italy insisted that the CCW be “given a chance” to continue its work on a cluster munition protocol and maintained that Protocol V was an example of the tangible results possible in the CCW.[5] Italy lobbied for a reference to the CCW and Protocol V to be included in the Oslo Declaration and emphasized that the Oslo Declaration was only a political commitment.[6]

At the Lima conference, Italy welcomed the initiative of Peru to work toward a Latin American regional moratorium on cluster munitions and stated it was ready to consider taking steps toward a national moratorium. Italy again maintained, however, that the CCW was the most appropriate forum for work on cluster munitions and appealed to states to support a mandate for negotiations in the CCW.[7] Italy supported Germany’s draft CCW Protocol VI on cluster munitions and stated that it would be useful as a basis for work in the Oslo Process.[8]

At the Vienna conference, Italy joined those states calling for various exceptions for certain cluster munitions on the basis of different technical characteristics.[9] Italy also supported provisions to facilitate “interoperability” (joint military operations with states not party).[10]

At the Wellington conference, Italy supported proposals to include provisions on interoperability in the convention and for the retention of cluster munitions for training and research.[11] Italy was a vocal opponent of provisions establishing special obligations for past users of cluster munitions.[12] At the conclusion of the Wellington conference, Italy supported a statement by France expressing dissatisfaction with the process of the conference on behalf of a so-called like-minded group.[13] Italy added that it “would have liked to see more transparency and inclusiveness.” Italy subscribed to the Wellington Declaration, indicating its intention to participate fully in the Dublin negotiations, but added, “It is our firm understanding that the Draft Convention text together with the Compendium of proposals will form the basis for our work in Dublin, where Italy will be negotiating on the basis of the proposals contained in these documents.”[14]

During the Dublin negotiations from 19–30 May 2008, Italy continued to argue for the deletion of legal responsibilities for past users of cluster munitions, for the inclusion of provisions allowing retention of cluster munitions for training and research, and for provisions on interoperability.[15] On 23 May 2008, Shadow Minister of Defense Roberta Pinotti submitted a motion to the Italian Senate calling on the government to take a clear position in the negotiations in favor of a ban on cluster munitions. The motion was approved on 28 May by a large bipartisan majority and enabled the Italian delegation to support the text agreed in Dublin.[16] When Italy joined consensus on the adoption of the convention, it said the negotiations had been fair and open and that the text fulfilled the objectives of the Oslo Declaration. Italy added, however, that it would have liked to have had clearer language on the issue of interoperability.[17]

During a CCW session on 4 November 2008, Italy called on the CCW to agree to a substantial prohibition with an immediate effect.[18] However, Italy did not join 26 states that issued a joint statement on 5 November 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.[19]

Upon signing the convention in Oslo, Italy stated, “Today, we are opening a new chapter of what we can call ‘humanitarian disarmament,’ a process which starts with an early entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and then proceeds with its universalisation and its effective implementation. For Italy, that means an early ratification, support for the universalisation process and renewed efforts in mine action and victim assistance. We leave Oslo with our commitments clearly in mind, let’s start our work in earnest.”[20]

Use, Production, Stockpiling, and Transfer

Italy is not believed to have used cluster munitions, but it has produced and stockpiled them. It is not known whether or not Italy has exported cluster munitions to other countries.

The company Simmel Difesa SpA (formerly also known as BPD Difesa e Spazio), based in Colleferro near Rome, at one point produced 81mm mortar bombs called RS6A2 and S6A2 and a 120mm mortar bomb called S12B which contained an unknown dual purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) type of submunition.[21]

Simmel also produced a 155mm projectile called the RB63 (also called 155mm IM 303 BCR) that was a copy of the German DM642 projectile and was the result of a joint development and marketing program between Simmel and the German company Rhienmetall. The projectile contained 63 DM1383 DPICM self-destructing submuntions.[22]

Following campaigning by the Italian Campaign to Ban Landmines, the company posted on its website a notice announcing the withdrawal of such munitions from its catalogue. The company stated that it has never produced or exported cluster munitions and gave assurances that any production would respect “existing and future legislation.”[23] However, one investigative report broadcast on satellite TV channel “Rainews24” in April 2006 showed that cluster munitions were still available through Simmel’s catalogue.[24]

Italy also possesses M26 rockets, each with 644 submunitions, for its Multiple Launch Rocket System launchers. Jane’s Information Group lists Italy as also possessing BL-755 and Rockeye cluster bombs.[25]

In addition, Italy destroyed its stocks of the MUSPA and MIFF submuntions that were payloads for the MW-1 dispenser, which it imported from Germany. Italy determined that these airfield denial antimaterial and antipersonnel submunitions with an electronic/acoustic fuze system, were considered antipersonnel mines under the Mine Ban Treaty and included them in destruction plans under that treaty.

[1] CMC, “Report on the Special Event on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, United Nations, New York, 18 March 2009.”

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

[3] Resolution 7-00081 Pinotti: On the application of cluster bombs to the area of antipersonnel landmines (sull’applicazione alle cluster bombs della disciplina in materia di mine antipersona), Chamber of Deputies, IV Commission, 16 January 2007, Annex 2, p.58, english.camera.it.

[4] Italy also attended the regional conference in Brussels in October 2007.

[5] Statement of Italy, Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions, 22 February 2007. Notes by CMC /WILPF.

[6] Ibid, 23 February 2007.

[7] Statement of Italy, Lima Conference on Cluster Munitions, 23 May 2007. Notes by CMC/WILPF.

[8] Ibid, 24 May 2007.

[9] Statement of Italy, Session on General Obligations and Scope, Vienna Conference on Cluster Munitions, 6 December 2007. Notes by CMC/WILPF.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Amendment to the Draft Cluster Munitions Convention (final version), Inter-operability, Presented by Germany, Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, 21 February 2008.

[12] Italy argued that such provisions would create controversies of a historical and political nature and could become an impediment to universalization of a future convention. Statement of Italy, Wellington Conference, 20 February 2008.

[13] Statement of France on behalf of like-minded countries, Closing Plenary, Wellington Conference, 22 February 2008.

[14] The compendium consisted mostly of proposals from the like-minded group that did not generate widespread acceptance in Wellington and which were criticized by the CMC as weakening the draft convention. Statement by Amb. Gioacchino Trizzino, Closing Plenary, Wellington Conference, 22 February 2008.

[15] Statement of Italy, Informal Discussions on Interoperability, Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions, 20 May 2008; and Statement of Italy, Committee of the Whole on Article 3, Dublin Diplomatic Conference, 19 May 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[16] Democratic Party Parliamentary Group, “Defense: Pinotti presents a motion to ban cluster bombs,” 23 May 2008, www.senato.it; and Statement by Vincenzo Scotti, Undersecretary of State, Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference, Oslo, 3 December 2008.

[17] Statement of Italy, Committee of the Whole, Dublin Diplomatic Conference, 28 May 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[18] Statement of Italy, Fifth 2008 Session of the CCW GGE on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 4 November 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[19] Statement delivered by Costa Rica, Fifth 2008 Session of the CCW GGE on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 5 November 2008.

[20] Statement by Vincenzo Scotti, Signing Conference, Oslo, 3 December 2008.

[21] Leland S. Ness and Anthony G. Williams, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2007–2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2007), pp. 468–469; Terry J. Gander and Charles Q. Cutshaw, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2001–2002, (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2001), p. 522.

[22] Leland S. Ness and Anthony G. Williams, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2007–2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2007), pp. 674–675.

[23] Email from the Italian Campaign to Ban Landmines, 15 February 2007; and Simmel Difesa SpA, “Simmel Difesa Products,” www.simmeldifesa.com.

[24] Email from the Italian Campaign to Ban Landmines, 15 February 2007.

[25] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 841. The M26 rockets and Rockeye bombs were produced by the United States, and the BL-755 by the United Kingdom.