03 December 2013

Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende shared his perspective on the CCM

On the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, in Oslo, the Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende shared his perspective on the significance of the Convention to preventing unacceptable harm to civilians caused by these weapons.

1. Why is it as important as ever to address the issue of cluster bombs worldwide?

Cluster munitions have been proven to be an inaccurate and indiscriminate means of warfare and to cause unacceptable suffering. They are not compatible with the standards to which responsible members of the international community subscribe. Ensuring that such weapons will never be used again is imperative.

It is also important to address the consequences of past use, as these problems continue to this day and will persist for the foreseeable future. Clearing contaminated land is important in order to avoid further casualties and to promote socio-economic development in affected countries. I also believe that, while the Convention has helped raise awareness about the situation for victims, much greater efforts are needed to effectively realize their human rights, as is indeed the case for persons with disabilities in general.

2. What are the main priorities for the future of the Convention from the Norwegian perspective?

Our view is that the Convention on Cluster Munitions has been hugely successful in its first few years. A whole category of weapons that have unacceptable effects has been prohibited and thoroughly stigmatized, and efforts to address the humanitarian consequences of past use have been intensified. Norway’s priority for the future of the Convention is to ensure that the norms established are upheld and that States Parties meet their obligations in a timely manner.

3. What are the key factors that have contributed to the success of the Convention so far?

The Convention on Cluster Munitions was brought about by strong partnerships between states, international organizations, the ICRC, and civil society organizations such as the Cluster Munition Coalition. These partnerships have continued after the Convention entered into force, sustaining a sense of shared purpose and accountability, while facilitating international cooperation and assistance on various implementation challenges. I believe that it is important to consolidate the results attained, to communicate the achievements made and to make use of the resources available in the most effective way.

4. Norway has long been a champion for the protection of civilians, both during and after conflict. Why is this?

Ensuring the effective protection of civilians during and after hostilities is a basic principle of international humanitarian law. Yet, we know that civilians continue to bear the brunt of armed conflict. From our perspective, this is unacceptable on both legal and moral grounds. We would also argue that the use of means or methods of warfare that have indiscriminate effects, or that disproportionately affect civilians, is usually counterproductive to the success of military operations.

Promoting initiatives to improve the effective protection of civilians is thus both a moral and a legal imperative, as well as a sensible policy from a military perspective. In our work to strengthen the protection of civilians from weapons that cause unacceptable harm, we seek to always have the realities on the ground as our point of departure, using an approach based on the actual effects of these weapons.

Humanitarian field-based organizations, including many of the members of the Cluster Munition Coalition, help to ensure that our efforts are guided by the realities on the ground.