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Country Reports
Download PDF of country response to Human Rights Watch letter.


The Republic of Lithuania signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo on 3 December 2008. In February 2009, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Human Rights Watch, “Lithuanian national authorities are preparing relevant documentation for ratification. We expect that the Lithuanian Parliament, the Seimas, would be in a position to complete the ratification process in 2009.”[1]

Lithuania has stated that it “does not possess cluster munitions and has never produced, used, stockpiled or transferred such weapons in the past.”[2]

Lithuania is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and ratified Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) on 29 September 2004. Lithuania’s Ambassador Edvardas Borisovas served as Coordinator of the CCW Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) Working Group on ERW in 2006. The group had a mandate to consider “implementation of existing principles of International Humanitarian Law” as they apply to ERW, and to study “possible preventive measures aimed at improving the design of certain specific types of munitions, including sub-munitions, with a view to minimising the humanitarian risk of these munitions becoming explosive remnants of war.”[3] The GGE was to report on the work done during the CCW Third Review Conference in November 2006.

During the Review Conference, Lithuania supported a proposal for a mandate to negotiate in the CCW a legally-binding instrument that “addresses the humanitarian concerns posed by cluster munitions.”[4] When this proposal was not accepted, Lithuania joined 24 other states in issuing a joint 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.[5] At the end of the Review Conference, Norway announced that it would start an independent process outside the CCW to negotiate a cluster munition treaty and invited other governments to join.

Lithuania participated throughout the Oslo Process, including the initial conference in Oslo in February 2007, all three international diplomatic conferences to develop the convention text in Lima, Vienna, and Wellington, as well as the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008. It also attended the regional conference in Brussels in October 2007.

During the Oslo conference, Lithuania expressed the view that Oslo Process efforts should complement deliberations on cluster munitions in the CCW.[6] It was one of 46 nations to endorse the Oslo Declaration, committing states to conclude in 2008 a new convention prohibiting cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.

At the Lima conference, Lithuania said, “From the beginning there should be an understanding that the CCW and the Oslo Processes should be complementary and reinforce each other to achieve the best results possible at the final phase.… There is a feeling that we are starting to work on a new instrument on cluster munitions with the thought of different products. We hope that these different processes do not go too far apart from each other with the understanding that there is a need for a legally binding instrument.”[7]

At the regional conference in Brussels, Lithuania expressed concern that the CCW had taken limited and insufficient steps on cluster munitions, and said that the CCW needed to agree on a negotiating mandate on a legally-binding instrument during its meeting in November 2007.[8] Subsequently, at the 2007 Meeting of the States Parties to the CCW in November, Lithuania advocated for such a mandate and stressed to CCW States Parties that they must achieve substantial progress on cluster munitions in order to prove the relevancy of the CCW.[9] But States Parties could only agree to “negotiate a proposal” with no commitment to a new CCW protocol, or to a prohibition of any sort.

During the Vienna conference in December 2007, Lithuania stated that the CCW mandate had fallen short of its expectations, and urged delegates to continue to search for linkages between the Oslo Process and the CCW, but at the same time continue to be a driving force. Lithuania spoke on a number of issues related to the draft convention, and noted the need to address “interoperability” issues (joint military operations with states not party).[10]

At the Wellington conference in February 2008, Lithuania again expressed concerns regarding interoperability and called for a specific provision in the convention. It said, “We need this to avoid legal ambiguities that in particular situations might cause very serious problems both on national and international levels.” It argued that activities such as participation in exercises or operations as part of a military alliance or participation in multilateral operations authorized by the UN could be considered to be in violation of the convention.[11] With regard to clearance provisions, it spoke of the need to avoid duplication with CCW Protocol V and to avoid clearance of cluster munitions taking precedence over other types of ERW.[12] Lithuania endorsed the Wellington Declaration, indicating its intention to participate fully in the Dublin negotiations on the basis of the Wellington draft text, but explaining that it did so with the understanding that proposals included the conference compendium would be considered on an equal basis with the draft text.[13] The compendium consisted mostly of proposals put forward by the so-called like-minded group that the CMC criticized strongly as weakening the draft text.

During the negotiations in Dublin in May 2008, Lithuania again put a priority on the interoperability issue.[14] At the conclusion, it joined the consensus adoption of the convention and stated that it would work toward ratification and universalization.[15]

At the CCW meeting in November 2008, Lithuania continued to support work on cluster munitions within the framework of the CCW, telling states that cluster munitions will not disappear overnight for those that do not take part in the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Lithuania expressed its view that the CCW still has relevance for those States Parties that produce cluster muntions and advocated for an eight year transition period—the “shortest possible”—for a potential CCW instrument on cluster munitions.[16] Lithuania did not join the group 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.[17]

Upon signing the convention in Oslo, Lithuania pledged its full support for the convention, describing it and the Oslo Process as an outstanding example of cooperation that Lithuania hopes will continue, not only on cluster munitions, but on other issues as well.[18]

In a February 2009 letter to Human Rights Watch, Lithuania said, “We also see great merit in seeking coherence in addressing the problems caused by cluster munitions, landmines and explosive remnants of war. Coherence in cooperation of relevant stakeholders and in assistance for victims is of particular relevance.”[19]

[1] Letter from Žygimantas Pavilionis, Undersecretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 19 February 2009.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “Report of the 2005 Meeting of the States Parties to the CCW,” Geneva, 14 February 2006, CCW/MSP/2005/2, p. 1.

[4] Proposal for a Mandate to Negotiate a Legally-Binding Instrument that Addresses the Humanitarian Concerns Posed by Cluster Munitions, Third Review Conference of the States Parties to the CCW, CCW/CONF.III/WP.1, Geneva, 25 October 2006.

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

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

[7] Statement of Lithuania, Lima Conference on Cluster Munitions, 23 May 2007. Unofficial transcription by WILPF.

[8] Statement of Lithuania, European Regional Conference on Cluster Munitions, Brussels, 30 October 2007. Notes by CMC.

[9] Statement of Lithuania, 2007 Meeting of the States Parties to the CCW, Geneva, 7 November 2007. Notes by WILPF.

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

[11] Statement of Lithuania, Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, 18 February 2008.

[12] Ibid, 20 February 2008.

[13] Ibid, 22 February 2008.

[14] Summary Record of the Committee of the Whole, First Session: 19 May 2008, Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions, CCM/CW/SR/1, 18 June 2008.

[15] Statement of Lithuania, Dublin Diplomatic Conference, 28 May 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[16] Statement of Lithuania, Fifth 2008 Session of the CCW GGE on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 3 November 2008. Notes by Landmine Action; and Statement of Lithuania, 2008 Meeting of the States Parties to the CCW, Geneva, 13 November 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[17] 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.

[18] Statement by Amb. Alfonsas Eidintas, Representative of Lithuania to the Kingdom of Norway, Convention on Cluster Munitions Signing Conference, Oslo, 3 December 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[19] Letter from Žygimantas Pavilionis, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 19 February 2009.