In many countries, conventional arms are the real weapons of mass destruction.
We know that small arms and light weapons kill more than half a million people each year. Our response must be to intensify global efforts to combat irresponsible and illegal trade, and use, of such weapons, including ammunition.
Norway is a firm supporter of the Arms Trade Treaty. It has great potential to be reduce human suffering. It provides fundamental norms for responsible arms trade, including assessing the potential for gender-based violence before arms exports are authorised. We urge all countries that have not yet done so to accede to the Arms Trade Treaty and to ratify it.
The Mine Ban Convention is perhaps the single most successful multilateral arms related treaty of recent times. A 164 States Parties, 53 million stockpiled mines destroyed – each potentially saving a life or a limb, and vast areas successfully cleared. If we could quantify the direct effect the Convention has had on the lives of civilians: number of lives saved and how mine clearance paves the way for development, the Convention would surely receive the political attention it deserves.
Norway will be taking over the presidency of the Mine Ban Convention later this year. We will work to bring renewed political attention to the Convention. We intend to view our presidency through a protection lens: the Convention is an important tool to ensure the protection of civilians from landmines during and after conflict. We are worried by new use of landmines and an increase in the number of victims in recent years. This concern for the indiscriminate impact of landmines was what brought about the Convention in the first place. Together we will have to consider what we can do to address the this challenge so that the Convention can keep on saving lives in the years to come.
A mine-free world by 2025 remains our vision and rallying cry.
This year, the global community will commemorate the 10-year anniversary of another landmark treaty: the Cluster Munitions Convention, which has in its way made a substantial difference to human security.
The Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions have established norms that are widely respected, not just by the states parties themselves. We must continue to support these two vital instruments.
A major challenge in the years to come will be the widespread use of homemade explosive devices, many of which are produced and used by non-state actors. Addressing large-scale contamination by improvised mines - and the suffering they cause - will require coordinated efforts and dedicated resources from the international community.
Improvised mines, which are victim activated and are under, on, or near the ground, are covered by the Mine Ban Convention and must be addressed as such by the humanitarian mine action community.
We would like more countries to participate in the ongoing discussions on how to enhance protection of civilians in conflict, and thereby improve compliance with international humanitarian law. There is a clear obligation to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants in conflict.
In Syria, Yemen and Ukraine, we have witnessed the indiscriminate use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas. Such use is clearly disproportionate and in violation of international humanitarian law. We have noted the call by the UN Secretary General to all countries and parties to conflict to avoid the use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas. As a global community, we must address the challenges of urban warfare.