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10th anniversary of the Oslo Conference

22 February 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the « Oslo Process» and the conference that started the international negotiation process, leading up to the convention on banning use, production and stockpiles of cluster munitions.

In the aftermath of decades of warfare with extensive use of cluster munitions in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Iraq and Lebanon, just to mention a few, the world had witnessed what tremendous effects these weapons have on civilian lives and communities.  According to the Cluster Munition Monitor Reports, 94 percent of all registered casualties from cluster munitions are civilians and 40 percent are children. These estimates were one out of many factors triggering the Norwegian initiative to form a separate conference to address the unacceptable harm caused by cluster munitions.

 

When states, numerous international organizations, civil society and UN agencies gathered in Oslo on 22nd of February 2007, the speech by the Norwegian Foreign Minister set the agenda of the conference. « Here is our objective: To reach agreement on a plan for developing and implementing a new instrument of international humanitarian law that addresses all the unacceptable consequences of cluster munitions by 2008». This statement, with a clear message of ambition to reach an agreement within a set timeframe created incentives to rise to the commitment. The conference in Oslo in February 2007 culminated in the Oslo Declaration, adopted by 46 participating states, which confirmed the obligation of the parties to agree upon a legally binding international instrument by the end of 2008.

 

During 2007-2008, participating parties met at four different conferences in Peru, Austria and New Zealand, and finally in Ireland for the diplomatic conference where the convention was negotiated and adopted. The delegates spent these four sessions discussing and negotiating the substantive elements of a new treaty, agreeing on the need to include obligations to assist victims, clear contaminated land, destroy stockpiles and provide international cooperation and assistance. The number of participating states increased significantly throughout what was called the «Oslo Process», demonstrating better understanding of the issue and the momentum created by the process. The signing ceremony in Oslo on3 December 2008, with 94 countries signing the Convention, was the final step of the «Oslo Process». The process had succeeded with the objective set out by the Norwegian Foreign Minister in his speech in 2007. The Convention on Cluster Munition entered into force in August 2010. To date, 119 States have joined the Convention – 100 States Parties and 19 Signatories.  Only seven years after its entry into force, the Convention has largely succeeded in stigmatising the use of cluster munitions and thereby made an important and relevant contribution to the upholding of the International Humanitarian Law.