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The Slovak Republic has not signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Slovakia participated in the Oslo Process from the outset, and adopted the convention at the end of the negotiations in Dublin, but consistently expressed reservations about the process and the convention text.

Slovakia is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and ratified Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War on 23 March 2006. Slovakia actively participated in the CCW work on cluster munitions in recent years.

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

At the CCW Third Review Conference in November 2006, Slovakia supported a proposal for a mandate to negotiate a legally-binding instrument “that addresses the humanitarian concerns posed by cluster munitions.”[1] When other CCW States Parties rejected such a mandate, Slovakia joined 24 other nations in supporting a declaration calling for an international 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]

Slovakia participated in all of the Oslo Process international diplomatic conferences to develop the convention text, including in Oslo, Lima, Vienna, and Wellington, as well as the formal negotiations in Dublin in May 2008. However, it only attended the Oslo signing conference in December 2008 as an observer.

At the initial conference to launch the Oslo Process in February 2007, Slovakia was one of 46 states endorsing the Oslo Declaration that committed states to conclude a new treaty in 2008 prohibiting cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians. However, Slovakia indicated its preference for work on cluster munitions in the CCW, and stated that the stricter the prohibition, the less the chance that it would be adhered to universally. Slovakia expressed its hope that the Oslo Process would exert pressure on the CCW.[3]

At the CCW Meeting of the States Parties in November 2007, Slovakia stated it strongly supported a mandate for a legally-binding instrument on cluster munitions, and said a failure of the CCW to address the issue effectively would affect the CCW’s credibility.[4]

At the Vienna conference in December 2007, Slovakia reiterated its position that the objective of the Oslo Process was not to conclude a categorical ban on cluster munitions, but rather to define cluster munitions which cause unacceptable harm on the basis of reliability, and to place restrictions on their use. In order to allow for broad participation later, a future instrument should allow for a transition period, Slovakia stated.[5]

At the Wellington conference in February 2008, Slovakia again insisted that the objective of the Oslo Process was not a categorical ban and stated that its participation in the process was founded on this understanding. Slovakia argued that a “total ban” would not be universalized and would have doubtful utility on the ground.[6] Slovakia supported the addition of provisions on “interoperability” (joint military operations with states not party), and stated that it placed great importance on the retention of submunitions for training and research purposes.[7] Slovakia associated itself with the so-called like-minded group that put forth a number of proposals strongly criticized by the CMC as weakening the draft text. Slovakia supported the joint statement of the like-minded group at the end of the conference expressing disappointment with the proceedings and the unwillingness to incorporate their proposals into the draft text.[8] Nevertheless, Slovakia subscribed to the Wellington Declaration, indicating its intention to participate fully in the formal negotiations in Dublin.

During the Dublin negotiations in May 2008, Slovakia called for broad exemptions from prohibition for certain types of cluster munition. It proposed exemptions for cluster munitions with self-destruction, self-neutralization, or self-deactivation mechanisms and those considered to have a 1% failure rate.[9] Slovakia proposed a transition period “for a limited period of time not exceeding 12 years” during which it would be permitted to continue to use prohibited cluster munitions “only when strictly necessary.”[10] Slovakia continued to support proposals for retention of cluster munitions and to facilitate interoperability.

At the closing ceremony of the Dublin conference, Slovakia noted that it had suggested an alternative approach to that contained in the convention and reiterated its conviction that Slovakia’s approach would have attracted the support of more countries. Nevertheless, Slovakia praised the convention’s important provisions to address the humanitarian concerns posed by cluster munitions. While joining the consensus adoption of the convention, Slovakia stated it would report back to capital on the proceedings in Dublin and that the Slovak authorities would study the text thoroughly.[11]

In early November 2008, the Slovak government decided that it would not be in a position to sign the convention in Oslo in December 2008.[12] Slovakia attended the signing conference as an observer.

In February 2009, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told reporters that the convention would place a great burden on the Slovakian state budget because of the cost of re-equipping the Slovak Armed Forces. However, he said Slovakia considers the convention as an important part of its humanitarian agenda and will continuously assess it position on signing in relation to its defense and security requirements.[13]

Use, Production, Stockpiling, and Transfer

Slovakia has not used cluster munitions, but has produced and exported them and currently has a stockpile. In February 2009, the Slovak Ministry of Defense reportedly cancelled orders of M26 multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) cluster munitions and suggested that it would replace its existing stocks of cluster munitions with other munitions by 2016 to 2020 at the latest.[14]

The company Konstrukta Defense SA has produced 152mm artillery projectiles that contain dual purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) type submunitions with a self-destructing capability.[15] It also has produced a 122mm rocket called AGAT that contains 50 dual purpose and six incendiary submunitions; both types of submunition can self-destruct.[16] Slovakia reported the export of 380 AGAT rockets to Turkey in 2007.[17]

The company has also produced the FOBOS anti-runway dispenser that ejects between one and nine “bombs” which appear to weigh 50kg each, and if so, would not be prohibited by the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[18]

In 2004, Germany transferred 270 M26 multiple launch rockets with submunitions to Slovakia.[19] It transferred another 132 in 2005.[20]

Slovenia has reported that it possesses 1,080 155mm artillery projectiles, designated PAT-794, that contain submunitions.[21] While the origin of the PAT-794 projectile is uncertain, knowledgeable sources have speculated that the PAT-794 was produced by the ZVS Company from Slovakia and contains 49 DPICM submunitions.

[1] Proposal for a Mandate to Negotiate a Legally-Binding Instrument that Addresses the Humanitarian Concerns Posed by Cluster Munitions, Presented by Austria, Holy See, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and Sweden, Third Review Conference of the States Parties to the CCW, Geneva, CCW/CONF.III/WP.1, Geneva, 25 October 2006.

[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] It said it subscribed to the 2006 declaration in the CCW because it proposed a prohibition only against certain cluster munitions. Statement of Slovakia, Oslo Conference on Cluster Munitions, 23 February 2007. Notes by CMC/WILPF.

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

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

[6] Statement of Slovakia, Session on Definitions, Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, 19 February 2008. Notes by CMC.

[7] Statement of Slovakia, Session on Definition and Scope, Wellington Conference, 18 February 2008; and Statement of Slovakia, Session on Storage and Stockpile Destruction, Wellington Conference, 21 February 2008. Notes by CMC.

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

[9] Proposal by Slovakia for the amendment of Article 1, Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions, CCM/63, 19 May 2008; and Proposal by Slovakia for the amendment of Article 2, Dublin Diplomatic Conference, CCM/64, 19 May 2008.

[10] Proposal by Slovakia for additional text, New Article (18 bis), Dublin Diplomatic Conference, CCM/66, 19 May 2008.

[11] Statement of Slovakia, Closing Statement, Dublin Diplomatic Conference, 30 May 2008. Notes by Landmine Action.

[12] “Slovakia not to ratify convention on cluster munitions,” BBC Monitoring European, 5 February 2009.

[13] Ibid.

[14] “Slovak Defense Ministry cancels orders for cluster munitions,” Zibb, 3 February 2009, www.zibb.com. The original source cited is the Slovak News Agency website, www.sita.sk, Bratislava, BBC Monitoring.

[15] Terry J. Gander and Charles Q. Cutshaw, eds., Jane’s Ammunition Handbook 2001-2002 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited 2001), pp. 321, 627.

[16] Konstrukta Defense SA, “Our products – results of our R&D work, AGAT – 122mm Cargo Rocket,” undated, www.kotadef.sk.

[17] Slovakia, Submission for Calendar Year 2007, UN Register of Conventional Arms, 12 June 2008.

[18] Konstrukta Defense SA, “Our products – results of our R&D work, FOBOS – Anti-runway Aviation System,” undated, www.kotadef.sk. In Article 2.2, the convention defines a cluster munition as a munition that disperses submunitions “each weighing less than 20 kilograms.”

[19] Germany, Submission for Calendar Year 2004, UN Register of Conventional Arms, 26 May 2005. It is unclear if this was 270 individual rockets or 270 pods containing six rockets each. Each rocket has 644 submunitions.

[20] Germany, Submission for Calendar Year 2005, UN Register of Conventional Arms, 1 June 2006. It is unclear if this was 132 individual rockets or 132 pods containing six rockets each. Each rocket has 644 submunitions.

[21] Letter from Samuel Žbogar, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 25 February 2009.