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Disarmament and non-proliferation


Estonia stands for international peace and security and is highly committed to multilateral disarmament and non-proliferation efforts, being a party to Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC), Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BWC), Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT).

Estonia supported 2016 UN General Assembly resolutions on the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) and on nuclear disarmament verification. The Government of Estonia, upon the invitation of the UN Secretary General, has nominated an expert to participate in the work of the High Level Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) Expert Preparatory Group.

Estonia is a reliable and competent partner in arms control and export control international efforts Estonia has signed and ratified Arms Trade Treaty and is working towards the goals of its universalisation and strengthening of its implementation.Estonia is a member of three export control regimes: Wassenaar Arrangement (WA), Australia Group (AG), both since 2004 and Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) since 2005. Estonia has been candidate for the full membership in the MTCR regime since 2003.

The Conference on Disarmament

The Geneva based Conference on Disarmament (CD), established in 1979, is the single multilateral forum of the UN to negotiate disarmament affairs. The CD deals with all multilateral arms control and disarmament topicsfocussing on the following issues: nuclear disarmament, prevention of nuclear war and all related matters, prevention of an arms race in the outer space, assurances for non-nuclear-weapon states against the use of nuclear weapons, new types of weapons of mass destruction, comprehensive programme of disarmament, and transparency in armaments.

Among others, the CD has established the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The Conference conducts its work by consensus. Regrettably, it has been unable to agree upon a Programme of Work since 1998 from when no new conventions or treaties have been negotiated.

The CD currently includes 65 member states and over 40 non-member states. Estonia has participated in CD’s work as an observer since 2000 and applied for a full membership in 2001. The last enlargement of the CD took place in 1996.

CD webpage

NGO overview

Arms control

An overview of major conventions and treaties that Estonia has acceded.


The Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious Effects (CCW)

The Convention opened for signature on 10 April 1981 and entered into force on 2 December 1983. Estonia joined the CCW on 20 October 2000. The Convention has currently 125 States Parties. The purpose of the Convention is to ban or restrict the use of specific types of weapons that are considered to cause unnecessary or unjustifiable suffering to combatants or to affect civilians indiscriminately. The structure of the CCW – a chapeau Convention and annexed Protocols – was adopted to ensure future flexibility. The Convention itself contains only general provisions. All prohibitions or restrictions on the use of specific weapons or weapon systems are the object of the 5 Protocols annexed to the Convention: non-detectable fragments (Protocol I); mines, booby-traps, other devices (Protocol II and amended Protocol II); incendiary weapons (Protocol III); blinding laser weapons (protocol IV), and explosive remnants of war (Protocol V). Estonia has ratified all five protocols of the convention.

In addition, at the 2016 Review Conference of the convention, the High Contracting Parties decided to establish a Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) to meet in 2017 with a mandate to assess questions related to emerging technologies in the area of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS). The 2017 meeting decided that the GGE shall convene again for ten days in 2018. The next CCW Review Conference will take place in 2021.

In 2017, Estonia was the President of CCW Protocol V. In previous two years, Estonia also coordinated the CCW sponsorship programme, which helps to promote universalization, enhance cooperation, and ensure broader geographical representation at meetings of the Convention. In previous 2 years, Estonia has also contributed financially to the sponsorship programme.

CCW webpage
NGO overview

The Ottawa Convention – The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (APLC)

2017 marked 20 years since  series of significant events, known as the Ottawa Process, led to the adoption and signing of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. The Convention opened for signatures on 3 December 1997, entered into force on 1 March 1999, and has ever since become an international norm. To date, the convention has 162 States Parties. Efforts to universalise and implement the Convention during the period from 2014 to 2019 are guided by the Maputo Action Plan, which States Parties adopted in 2014 during the 3rd Review Conference hosted by Mozambique. The 4th Review Conference will take place in 2019.

The Ottawa Convention is the cornerstone of the international effort to end the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines. The Convention provides a framework for mine action, seeking both to end existing suffering and to prevent future suffering. It bans the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines. In addition, States that accede to the Convention accept that they will destroy both stockpiled and emplaced anti-personnel mines, and assist the victims of landmines.

Estonia joined the Ottawa Convention on 1 October 2004 and is a firm supporter of humanitarian demining activities. Estonia has been regularly contributing to demining efforts for more than 10 years. In recent years, Estonia has increased its contributions, including financial support to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), as well as to clean-up of various explosive remnants of war and mine-clearance activities under several bilateral and international humanitarian projects. Estonia has supported mine action in Mali, Gaza, Libya, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Since 2006, we have also regularly supported and gradually increased our contributions to Ottawa Convention’s Implementation Support Unit (ISU) in achieving its mandate-based targets.

APLC webpage

The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM)

The Convention on Cluster Munitions is a legal instrument which prohibits all use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions. In addition, it establishes a framework for cooperation and assistance to ensure adequate assistance to survivors and their communities, clearance of contaminated areas, risk reduction education and destruction of stockpiles. Adopted on 30 May 2008 in Dublin, Ireland, and signed on 3 December 2008 in Oslo, Norway, the Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force on 01 August 2010. To date the convention has 102 full States Parties. Estonia acknowledges its humanitarian rationale and participated actively in the negotiations, but has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions due to security considerations.

CCM webpage

The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC)

The BTWC prohibits the development, production, acquisition, transfer, retention, stockpiling and use of biological and toxin weapons and is one key element in the international community’s efforts to address the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The convention opened for signature on 10 April 1972 in London, Moscow and Washington and entered into force on 25 March 1975. The convention has currently 179 States Parties. Estonia joined the BTWC on 21 June 1993. The Republic of Estonia had also signed the earlier 1925 Geneva Protocol, which prohibited the use of biological weapons.

The BTWC is one of the weakest disarmament conventions in the sense that the only mechanism that follows compliance is the exchange of Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) "in order to prevent or reduce the occurrence of ambiguities, doubts and suspicions and in order to improve international cooperation in the field of peaceful biological activities". The CBM-s are submitted once a year and are publicly accessible on the BTWC webpage.

States Parties have met every five years to review the operation of the BWC. The latest BWC Review Conference took place in 2016 in Geneva and ended with modest results. However, the Meeting of States Parties in 2017 was able to agree on the intersessional programme for the years 2018-2020. The next Review Conference will take place in 2021.

BTWC webpage


The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapon (NPT)

The NPT is the cornerstone of the international nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament regime. It consists of a preamble and eleven articles and its objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament. These aims constitute the well-acknowledged three pillars of NPT. The Treaty establishes a safeguards system under the responsibility of the IAEA, which also plays a central role under the Treaty in areas of technology transfer for peaceful purposes. The NPT represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States.

A testament to the Treaty’s significance is the fact that more countries have ratified the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement. The Treaty opened for signature in 1968 and entered into force in 1970. On 11 May 1995, the Treaty was extended indefinitely. A total of 191 States have joined the Treaty, including the five nuclear-weapon States. Estonia joined the Treaty on 31 January 1992.

The treaty is reviewed in every five years in meetings called Review Conferences of the Parties to the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The last Review Conference took place in 2015, where despite intensive consultations, the Conference was unable to reach agreement on a substantive part of the draft Final Document. The next Review Conference is foreseen for 2020.

NPT webpage

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is one of the most important international treaties in the area of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. The CTBT bans nuclear explosions by everyone, everywhere: on the Earth’s surface, in the atmosphere, underwater and underground. The Treaty was opened for signature on 24 September 1996. Estonia signed the Treaty on 20 October 1996 and ratified it on 21 June 1999. Currently 166 countries have signed and ratified the treaty.

The CTBT has not entered into force, because it requires the signature and ratification by 44 specific nuclear technology holder countries, of which 8 – China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the USA – have not yet done so.

To promote the Treaty and to build up the verification regime, the States Signatories to the Treaty also established a new international organization – the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) with headquarters in Vienna, Austria. Until the Treaty enters into force, the organisation is called the Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO.

Additional info on CTBT

CTBTO webpage

Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT)

The Treaty has the mandates of both the United Nations and the NPT Review Conference, however no negotiations have taken place due to lack of consensus at the Conference on Disarmament.

In 2017 and 2018, Estonia takes part of the high-level fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT) expert preparatory group meetings, with a membership of 25 States, established by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The experts are expected to consider and make recommendations on substantial elements of a future treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. A group of governmental experts (GGE), with a slightly different composition, also met in 2014-2015.

Further information on FMCT

Arms Trade Treaty (ATT)

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is an international treaty that regulates the international trade in conventional arms and seeks to prevent and eradicate illicit trade and diversion of conventional arms by establishing international standards governing arms transfers. The Arms Trade Treaty requires all states parties to adopt basic regulations and approval processes for the flow of weapons across international borders, establishes common international standards that must be met before arms exports are authorized, and requires annual reporting of imports and exports to a treaty secretariat.

The Treaty came into force on 24 December 2014. At this stage the Treaty has a total of 92 States Parties and 130 Signatory States. Estonia signed the Treaty on 3 June 2013, ratified it on 2 April 2014, and submitted its initial report on measures undertaken to implement the Arms Trade Treaty in 2015.

ATT webpage

Additional information on ATT

Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW)

In the last decade, the international community has recognised the need to improve national small arms laws, import/export controls, and stockpile management, as well as to tackle illicit trade and diversion. A number of global, regional and local initiatives have been created. The most important of those is the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (PoA). Another important measure is the International Tracing Instrument (ITI), which requires States to ensure that weapons are properly marked and that records are kept. Moreover, it provides a framework for cooperation in weapons tracing. Meetings and national reports on PoA and ITI are always combined. The next SALW Review Conference will take place on 19-23 March 2018 in New York.

Additional info on SALW


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