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


The Republic of Malta signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo on 3 December 2008. In March 2009, Malta informed Human Rights Watch that “Malta recognizes the need for the Convention on Cluster Munitions to come into force as early as possible, in order to provide a legally binding framework for the protection of civilians both during and after armed conflict…. In this spirit, I am pleased to inform that the Government of Malta is seriously considering to ratify the CCM, as soon as all the necessary procedures for its entry into force have been completed in accordance with our constitutional requirements.”[1]

It also declared, “Malta has never used or produced cluster munitions. Nor has it ever stockpiled or transferred these munitions.”[2]

Malta is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and ratified Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War on 22 September 2006. During the CCW Third Review Conference in November 2006, Malta supported a proposal for a mandate to negotiate a legally-binding instrument that “addresses the humanitarian concerns posed by cluster munitions.”[3] When this proposal was not accepted, Malta joined 24 other states in issuing a joint declaration calling for an agreement to “prohibit the development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of cluster munitions that pose serious humanitarian hazards because they are for example unreliable and/or inaccurate.”[4]

Malta participated in the first Oslo Process conference in February 2007 and endorsed the Oslo Declaration, committing states to conclude in 2008 a convention prohibiting cluster munitions. It subsequently attended the Lima, Vienna, and Wellington preparatory conferences, and the Dublin negotiations.

At the Oslo conference in February 2007, Malta stressed the potential for small and medium-sized states to contribute to the Oslo Process.[5] At the Lima conference in May 2007, Malta expressed its view that states should not discourage discussions of cluster munitions in the CCW, stating, “We accept a protocol on cluster munitions with unequivocal support.”[6] Malta endorsed the Wellington Declaration at the Wellington conference in February 2008, indicating its intention to participate in the formal treaty negotiations in Dublin on the basis of the Wellington draft text.

Malta actively participated in the negotiations in Dublin in May 2008, opposing the introduction of a transition period before obligations took effect and engaging on issues relating to “interoperability” (joint military operations with states not party) and definitions. [7] Regarding definitions, Malta was open to proposals to limit which weapons were defined as a “cluster munition” by the convention, but stated that the ultimate goal was to fulfill the Oslo Process mandate to address cluster munitions that cause unacceptable humanitarian harm.[8] At the conclusion, it joined the consensus adoption of the convention.

In Oslo in December 2008, Ambassador Victor Camilleri, Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, signed the convention on behalf of Malta.

In its March 2009 letter to Human Rights Watch, Malta said that it will continue to support efforts to conclude a new protocol on cluster munitions in the CCW, stating that such a protocol could allow states which do not currently consider themselves in a position to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but which may share its humanitarian objectives, to “take a step in the same direction.” Malta added, “We do so on the clear understanding that any new CCW protocol would be complementary with the CCM, and would significantly contribute to addressing the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions. At the same time while pursuing this initiative in the CCW, Malta will remain committed to the goal of attracting the adherence of all States to the Dublin Convention.”[9]

Malta also elaborated on its position on some interpretive matters relating to the convention, stating, “Our understanding of the commitments arising out of the convention is that, as a party, we will not permit the transit of cluster munitions across, or foreign stockpiling of cluster munitions on, our national territory.”[10]

[1] Letter from Amb. Saviour F. Borg, Permanent Mission of Malta to the UN in New York, 2 March 2009.

[2] Ibid.

[3] 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.

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

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

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

[7] Summary Record of the Committee of the Whole, Eighth Session: 23 May 2008, Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions, CCM/CW/SR/8, 18 June 2008.

[8] Statements of Malta, Informal Discussions on Definitions, Dublin Diplomatic Conference, 20 and 22 May 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[9] Letter from Amb. Saviour F. Borg, Permanent Mission of Malta to the UN in New York, 2 March 2009.

[10] Ibid.