In a time of rearmament and rising global tensions, building trust, and ensuring adherence to commonly agreed norms and rules is more urgent than ever. Established norms are being severely challenged. We must act to preserve and strengthen existing legal instruments that prohibit and regulate the use of those conventional weapons that cause the most humanitarian harm.
Norway welcomes the Secretary-Generals effort to raise the concern of small arms and light weapons in New Agenda for Peace. SALW and their ammunition are the leading cause of violent deaths globally.
When explosive weapons are used indiscriminately, as seen in Russia’s illegal and unprovoked war in Ukraine, the negative effects are long-lasting and sometimes irreversible. Reportedly, civilians account for almost 90% of casualties when explosive weapons are used in populated areas. The harrowing images from on-going conflicts are stark reminders. Civilians suffer the most in urban warfare. We expect all parties to uphold their obligations to protect civilians from the harm of explosives. Civilians must never be targets.
The endorsement last year by 83 states to the Political Declaration on Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas was an important milestone. The declaration aims to strengthen efforts to protect civilians by committing states to assess, update and improve military policies and practices. Norway is looking forward to hosting next year’s follow-up Conference on EWIPA in Oslo. We strongly encourage states that have yet to endorse the declaration to do so.
The Conventions on Anti-personnel Mines and Cluster Munitions are cornerstones of the humanitarian disarmament architecture. The treaties have been hugely successful as examples of how disarmament diplomacy can reduce human suffering. Both have fostered innovative partnerships between states, mine action operators and organizations. However, we are deeply concerned by the reported increase in casualties from the use of cluster munitions. There is an urgent need to ensure universal adherence to these conventions. Funding gaps remain a major challenge in demining. To achieve the ambitious goal of a mine free world we must step up our efforts and ensure sufficient level of funding for mine action in affected states.
Autonomous technology and AI are developing at exponential speed. The use of such technology for military purposes poses serious legal, humanitarian and military concerns. We must ensure that weapons systems featuring autonomy remain under meaningful human control. We now have a window of opportunity to address these challenges by clarifying and elaborating norms and rules before the technology fully matures. The rapid changes require us to accelerate progress.
The consensus report, approved by the GGE on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems this year, was a welcome development. Norway supports the two-tier approach as a good basis for further progress. We welcome the efforts by Austria tabling a resolution on LAWS, which Norway has co-sponsored.
Norway is a dedicated supporter of the Arms Trade Treaty. In many regions, the illicit trade and diversion of arms pose a direct threat to civilian populations. The ATT is the most robust framework we possess to counter these illicit activities. Building capacity, sharing best practices, and institutionalizing cross-border cooperation between relevant institutions should be one of the treaty’s main objectives. We welcome the establishment of the Diversion Information Exchange Forum. We call on our fellow Member States to join the treaty as a matter of priority.
Disarmament cannot be an endeavour of states only. Civil society, international organizations and academia play a significant role in moving us forward. The multi-stakeholder approach has been fundamental in so many processes. We must also strive to achieve gender balance and integrate diversity perspectives in disarmament fora and work.