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Back to Laws Prohibiting Investments in Controversial Weapons

I. Introduction

Although Spain has been a producer and stockpiler of cluster munitions, it became a signatory of the Convention on Cluster Munitions on December 3, 2008, and ratified the Convention on June 17, 2009.[1] Spain is also a party to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention,[2] which it signed on December 3, 1997, and ratified on January 19, 1999.[3] Spain currently prohibits the use, stockpiling, production, transfer, and financing of such munitions.[4]

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II. Legislation

Law 33/1998, as amended by Law 27/2015, forbids the use, development, production, acquisition in any way, stockpiling, conservation, transfer, or export, directly or indirectly, of antipersonnel mines, cluster munitions, explosive bomblets, and weapons of similar effect. Furthermore, assisting, encouraging, or inducing anyone to participate in any activity prohibited by the Convention on Cluster Munitions or its implementing legislation is also banned.[5]

Law 27/2015 added a provision making illegal the financing and advertising of prohibited weapons and any of the activities prohibited by the Law.[6] The Law  does not provide for  specifics on what types of investments are prohibited, but rather provides for a prohibition in general terms.[7]

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III. Implementation

On July 11, 2008, the Spanish government ordered a unilateral moratorium on cluster munitions in the Spanish Armed Forces possession and the destruction of such munitions.[8] In addition, the Spanish government assumed the commitment to destroy cluster bombs in the Spanish government’s possession by June 2009.[9] In compliance with the moratorium, Instalaza and Maxam, Spanish manufacturers of cluster bombs, cancelled their production when Spain signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[10] In addition, the agencies of the Spanish government responsible  for  foreign  trade  were  instructed  to  deny  all  requests  for   the   export   of cluster munitions.[11]

According to an official report by the Ministry of Defense, by the end of 2008, Spain had destroyed 4,339 cluster munitions, which constituted over 77% of its stockpile, and completed the destruction of cluster munitions in March 2009.[12]

Spanish financial institutions, such as BBVA and Banco Santander, previously provided financing to Spanish companies manufacturing cluster munitions and anti-personnel mines, but stopped this practice when the prohibition under Law 27/2015 was enacted, according to declarations issued by the banks.[13]

The Law uses general language and does not provide specific names of the domestic or foreign companies affected by the prohibition.

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IV. Enforcement

Violations of the prohibition on use, development, production, sale, and stockpiling of prohibited weapons are sanctioned according to the Penal Code[14] with five to ten years of imprisonment.[15] Participation or assistance with carrying out the forbidden activities are sanctioned with imprisonment for three to five years.[16] However, the Penal Code does not provide for specific criminal sanctions applicable to the financing or advertising of prohibited weapons.

The Ministry of Defense is involved in implementation of the Law but does not have specific oversight authority. The Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce is authorized to take the necessary measures to implement the prohibition on importing, exporting, and introducing  cluster munitions under the Convention, according to an agreement reached between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs; Defense; and  Industry, Tourism and Commerce and submitted to the Acuerdo de Ministros of July 8, 2008.[17]

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Prepared by Graciela Rodriguez-Ferrand
Senior Foreign Law Specialist
November 2016


[1] Convention on Cluster Munitions, Oct. 30, 2008, 2688 U.N.T.S. 39, available at http://www.clusterconvention. org/files/2011/01/Convention-ENG.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/5RU7-7CUN; Status As At 27-09-17, Convention on Cluster Munitions, United Nations Treaty Collection, https://treaties.un.org/pages/View Details.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=XXVI-6&chapter=26&lang=en, archived at https://perma.cc/S4NF-KVGZ.

[2] Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, Sept. 18, 1997, 2056 U.N.T.S. 211, https://treaties.un.org/doc/Publication/UNTS/Volume%202056/v2056.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/75E5-HNT5.

[3] Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries, Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, Int’l Comm. of the Red Cross, https://ihl-databases. icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/States.xsp?xp_viewStates=XPages_NORMStatesParties&xp_treatySelected=580, archived at https://perma.cc/BZL8-X9UT.

[5]  Law 33/1998, Oct. 5, 1998, BOLETÍN OFICIAL DEL ESTADO [B.O.E.], Oct. 6, 1998, as amended by Ley 27/2015, July 28, 2015, on the Complete Prohibition of Antipersonnel Mines, Cluster Munitions and Similar Weapons art. 2.1, B.O.E., July 28, 2015, http://www.boe.es/boe/dias/2015/07/29/pdfs/BOE-A-2015-8471.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/4QET-JN6S.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] El Gobierno Aprueba la Moratoria para Destruir las Bombas de Racimo en España, PÚBLICO (July 11, 2008), http://especiales.publico.es/hemeroteca/133770/el-gobierno-aprueba-la-moratoria-para-destruir-las-bombas-de-racimo-en-espana, archived at https://perma.cc/6NV2-5K8N; Texto del Acuerdo por el que se Dispone una Moratoria Unilateral Relativa a las Municiones de Racimo y se Impulsa el Proceso de Firma y Ratificación de la Convención sobre Municiones de racimo Recientemente Aprobada en la Conferencia Diplomática de Dublín y su Aplicación Provisional [Text of the Accord that Approves a Unilateral Moratorium Related to Cluster Munitions and Boosts the Process of Signature and Ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions Recently Approved in the Diplomatic Dublin Conference and its Provisional Application], approved July 11, 2008, Anexo 1, at 8, http://archives.the-monitor.org/cm/2009/countries/pdf/Spain%20MFA%20Cluster%20Response%204.2009.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/22AC-CPVF.

[9] Press Release, Ministerio de Defensa, España Habrá Desactivado sus Bombas Racimo en Siete Meses (Dec. 2, 2008), http://www.defensa.gob.es/gabinete/notasPrensa/2008/12/notaPrensa_11845.html, archived at https://perma.cc/PFA9-UVQS.

[10] LANDMINES AND CLUSTER MUNITION MONITOR, supra note 4.

[11] Id.

[12] Id. n.44.

[13] BBVA y Santander invirtieron más de 4.000 millones de euros en armas entre 2011 y 2016 [BBVA and Santander Invested More than 4,000 Million Euros in Arms Between 2011 and 2016], BEZ (July 24, 2016), http://www.bez.es/82793197/BBVA-y-Santander-invirtieron-mas-de-.000-millones-de-euros-en-armas-entre-2011-y-2016.html, archived at https://perma.cc/SC6H-QTEP.

[14] Ley Orgánica 10/1995, CÓDIGO PENAL [Organic Law 10/1995, PENAL CODE], Nov. 23, 1995, B.O.E., Nov. 24, 1995, http://www.boe.es/buscar/act.php?id=BOE-A-1995-25444&tn=1&p=20150428&vd=#a563, archived at https://perma.cc/YWZ7-6YW9.

[15] Id. art. 566.

[16] Id.

[17] LANDMINES AND CLUSTER MUNITION MONITOR, supra note 4.

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Last Updated: 10/02/2017