C1: Conventional weapons

Statement given by Norway's Special Representative for Disarmament Knut Langeland on Agenda items 89 – 105: Conventional weapons, 24 October 2016.

Mr. Chair,

Conventional armed violence constitutes a fundamental menace for peace and security in a number of countries as well some regions. It represents a grave threat to human security.

We have witnessed in Syria, Yemen and Ukraine how indiscriminate use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas has led to a degree of civilian loss of life that is clearly disproportionate and in violation of international humanitarian law.

There is a clear obligation to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants in conflicts. We therefore need more dialogue on how to enhance protection of civilians in conflicts, and thereby improve compliance with international humanitarian law.

Mr. Chair,

Over the last decades legally binding instruments have evolved in the field of conventional weapons which have indiscriminate effect on civilians. We must sustain these instruments, and refrain from any initiative that might undermine them.

The Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions have established norms which go beyond their memberships. Norway reiterates its condemnation of any use of such weapons.

Norway is pleased to co-sponsor the resolution on the Cluster Munitions Convention. We welcome that 100 countries have ratified the CMC. We must continue our efforts to reach 130 States Parties by 2020. Our universalization efforts should in particular be focused on affected countries. This will also enable us to move faster on clearance and victim assistance.

Norway is currently providing humanitarian Mine action and victim assistance in 20 countries. Norway, along the US, will be leading a global demining initiative for Colombia. Our goal is a Colombia free of landmines, and other explosives. Unless action is taken, the legacy of the armed conflict will to continue to kill and injure innocent people for decades to come.

Small arms and light weapons have been characterized as "weapons of mass destruction in slow motion". They kill more than half million humans each year. We must therefore intensify efforts to combat any irresponsible and illegal trade in or use of such weapons, including ammunition.

Norway is a firm supporters of the Arms Trade Treaty. It was designed to provide norms for responsible trade in conventional arms, but the ATT does much more. If applied to its highest potential, the ATT could contribute substantially to global security and stability. Acts of terror rely on access to arms. The illicit arms trade is often a key factor in transnational organized crime, and to financing international terrorism and activities of non-state armed groups.

People who live with armed violence are affected in every aspects of their lives. The ATT serves a fundamental humanitarian concern. In addition, the ATT is the first international treaty that provides for an obligation to assess the potential for gender-based violence before the authorizing arms export. This is a great achievement and will hopefully contribute to enhance focus on measures to prevent gender-based violence and armed violence against women and children.

We welcome the substantive outcome of the Second Conference of State Parties held in Geneva in August. It provides a solid foundation forward for the functioning of the ATT regime and continued efforts on universalization.

The UN Program of Action to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons has made important contributions to national, regional and international security. Since its adoption 15 years ago, a number of steps have been explored to further enhance the relevance of the Program of Action. We must continue these efforts, and not least in the lead-up to the third review conference in 2018.

Thank you.