Convention on Cluster Munitions Working Group on Clearance and Risk Reduction

Norwegian statement during Working Group on Clearance and Risk Reduction. Inter sessional informal meetings, 7 – 9 April 2014.

Last updated: 08.04.2014 //         

Mr. Coordinator Please allow me to address to related but separate issues in this intervention.

Firstly, I will proceed with some observations from Norway on the critical importance of adequate survey practices and standards.

We would like to thank the coordinators for highlighting the issue of good survey practices as a precondition for effective implementation of article 4, and also the panel for the excellent presentations.

States parties and operators have agreed on the importance of proper surveys designed to accurately identify actual contamination by cluster munitions remnants.

With increased focus on clearance of cluster munitions, operators have gained more insights on how best to undertake surveys and identify actual contamination.

States parties have responded to this progress in operational methodologies, by clarifying the obligations contained in the Convention with regards to survey, clearance and the end-state.  This process started with the recommendations on methods for efficiency and effectiveness in survey and clearance adopted by the second meeting of States Parties and the subsequent recommendations on compliance with article 4 adopted by the fourth meeting of states parties. 

Thus there is currently coherence between the most advanced survey methods and the requirements for compliance with the convention.

Norway’s experience, as former President, as donor and active supporter of the convention, is that we now have all the tools needed to fulfill the aims of the convention with regard to survey and clearance within foreseeable timeframes and reasonable resource inputs.

However, we are concerned about the risk that this community duplicate the same mistakes that led the mine action community to establish massively overblown estimates of suspected hazardous areas, resulting in a systematic waste of expensive clearance resources. 

We are concerned, because we see that many actors still stick too an outdated approach, that by default generate overblown estimates of possible contamination leading to full-scale clearance of large areas were contamination is low or zero.  To avoid that we should stop registering so-called suspected hazardous areas, and focus on identifying where the actual contamination exist.

What this community needs to do is to test, further develop and employ surveys that generate clearly defined Confirmed hazardous areas, where subsequent clearance operations find and destroy large number Cluster Munition Remnants in relatively short time, along the lines presented by this panel.

To do so require political will. Employment of new methods may challenge well-established perceptions of the contamination problem. It also require an ability to introduce new ways of work, shift priorities in ways that some actors may find threatening to their positions.

As a donor, Norway will strive to support initiatives and programs aimed at first identifying the actual problem, in terms of concrete, geo-referenced confirmed hazardous areas, and second, clearance of those. In our view, it is a waste of scarce resources to clear areas where there is no evidence of contamination.

And secondly Mr. coordinator, please allow me to deliver a short update on our Article 4 status.

Norway has obligations under Article 4, and we are pleased to inform you that

the operation to clear cluster munition remnants at the former test fire range at Hjerkinn now is concluded.

Engineers from the Norwegian defense have cleared all suspected and known contaminated areas for Cluster Munition Remnants. The engineers will continue to clear other parts of the former test range for all other kinds of UXOs according to the overall plan, but we have no reason to suspect contamination by CMRs in those areas. 

Norway will provide the 5th meeting of States Parties in September with a formal declaration of compliance of Article 4, in accordance with article 4.1 (c) and with recommendations adopted by the states parties at the 4th Meeting of States Parties.

Thank you