Speech/statement | Date: 01/02/2010
- There are of course some critical differences between the nuclear disarmament agenda and the agenda that led to the ban on land mines and cluster munitions. But at the same time, there are some key, shared lessons to be learned. For example, experience from humanitarian disarmament should guide us on how to pursue and negotiate disarmament issues in general, Støre said at the opening lecture at the Leangkollen Conference in Oslo 1 February 2010.
Check against delivery
Ambassadors, ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour to address you at the 45th Annual Leangkollen Conference. During 55 years, and still (since 1997) under the inspiring leadership of Chris Prebensen, the Committee has been an important institution in the Norwegian security policy landscape of discussions, setting broad and comprehensive foreign policy agendas.
Its comprehensiveness is important. In our complex world we need a broader perspective: one that can include the long lines in our common history, acknowledging the hard mix of how to combine what is politically and morally desirable with what is politically and strategically achievable. Single mindedness is rarely a wise approach to take us forward in the security policy terrain.
A comprehensive approach is crucial to the theme I have chosen to focus on today: security and disarmament. It is a theme of vital importance to security policy in all ages, combining political, economic, technological, moral and ethical perspectives. The main focus of my address will be the need for a comprehensive approach to disarmament – and that is the reason why I have chosen Disarmament – reframing the challenge as the title for my lecture.
2010 will be a critical year for global disarmament issues. This is the year of the upcoming NPT conference; we see continued US-Russian efforts to make further cuts in nuclear arsenals; the Iranian nuclear file is as high as ever on the agenda; and new light is being shed on the fatal consequences of small arms and their toll on human development. Just to mention a few features.
Norway alone will not tilt the balance on any of these issues. But no country can escape the disarmament agenda; this is indeed one of the truly global agendas that challenge us all – it is in fact everybody’s business.
And consequently, disarmament is an integral part of the Norwegian Government’s foreign and security policy. We pursue disarmament in order to enhance international, national and individual security. We pursue disarmament in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights. And we pursue a comprehensive disarmament agenda that makes sense both from a political, military, humanitarian and economic perspective – in addition to the fundamental moral and ethical dimensions.
Our ambitions are spelled out in the Government’s policy platform:
First: to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in close cooperation with our NATO allies, in all relevant forums.
Second: to promote further efforts of humanitarian disarmament, such as following up on the Mine Ban Treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions and increasing the efforts against armed violence.
In short: this is a comprehensive approach, acknowledging that disarmament and arms reduction are at the core of both security policy and development policy.
A few months from today, on August 6, we will commemorate the fact that 65 years have passed since Hiroshima – a day forever branded in our memory - the day mankind’s capacity to destroy was demonstrated for all to see.
Since that day in 1945, we have lived with the threat, the fear and at certain moments also the imminent possibility of nuclear war. Nuclear holocaust is not some imaginary notion. The possibility is real because the arsenal is real; it is there.
This threat, however, has not been viewed exclusively as a bad thing. It has, as you all know, even been a core element of our security policy. Take the doctrine of mutually assured destruction: it was – and still is, one could argue – a doctrine designed to protect us from a nuclear holocaust, and actually from war itself. For decades the logic was that war between nuclear powers had become practically impossible. The more destructive a weapon’s power, the more it can deter, as the logic goes.
Historically, we cannot exclude the possibility that it was the existence of nuclear weapons that kept the Cold War chilly and not warm.
But let us not forget that those post World War II decades only kept a fragile, dangerous peace in Europe, that it was a period of violent competition between the superpowers elsewhere on our planet, and that the logic of MAD presupposed that there were rational actors on both sides.
The so-called hawks were the main proponents of this logic. We remember the classic Cold War infighting between hawks and doves: those advocating massive arsenals of weapons, versus those promoting disarmament and dialogue.
During the Cold War, the disarmament community was often portrayed as idealistic and even naïve by the security policy establishment. Disarmament was seen – by some – as irreconcilable with state security. – And, as a consequence, as an attitude and act of irresponsibility.
But as we remember, this was not the only line of thinking. In 1967, NATO adopted the Harmel Report emphasising the close interlinkage between confidence-building measures and deterrence capability. This helped to create an atmosphere in the 1970s that led to important arms control treaties.
This spring, in 2010, we will pay particular attention to one of the most important milestones reached in that period – the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It is appropriate to recall the critical importance of this treaty, which entered into force in 1970 and still is – as you all know - the main multilateral framework for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
The treaty is based on three pillars – pillars of equal importance: i) non-proliferation, ii) disarmament and iii), the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy.
I think it is fair to say that for too long, the disarmament pillar of the Treaty was neglected. In 1995 the NPT was extended indefinitely, provided that the nuclear weapons states agreed on fundamental disarmament principles. These principles were further elaborated at the NPT Review Conference in 2000.
However, since 2000, we have witnessed a gradual roll-back in global efforts to reduce nuclear arsenals and in their role in security policies. The first decade of the 21st century now stands out as a lost decade in terms of nuclear disarmament. The optimistic atmosphere that characterised the first years after 1989 was subdued by the so-called Global War on Terror after 9/11 2001.
Hope was replaced by fear in international politics. Key actors lost their faith in multilateral organisations and regimes. Deeply rooted norms and values were challenged by the notion that the times we were living in warranted urgent and extraordinary responses. This also influenced the work of the NPT, and we all remember that the review conference in 2005 ended in total failure.
Basically, the NPT has been viewed from two different perspectives: one is that the real purpose of the treaty is limited to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons; the other is that the main focus should be on the elimination of existing arsenals.
This disagreement also contributed to the failure of the 2005 review conference. Today, however, the tide may be changing again. Multilateralism is regaining centre-stage. Respect for fundamental human rights and humanitarian principles is on the rise. And nuclear disarmament is again heading the global agenda.
In a few months time, in May, the international community will have an opportunity to restore the NPT compact. It is now more important than ever that this review conference really closes the current loopholes in the regime, and that it holds the state parties accountable to their obligations.
In other words, we must ensure that it starts a process towards full elimination of nuclear weapons. This is not a utopian dream. As President Obama said in Prague last April, it may not happen in his lifetime, but it must happen and we must set the course to get there.
To succeed we must respect the comprehensiveness of the NPT agenda. We must accept the fact that the three pillars have equal weight, that respect for one depends on respect for the other. Or to put it this way – the failure of the major nuclear states to disarm directly impedes our collective ability to win respect for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
And the other way round – nuclear abolition simply cannot be achieved unless we tighten up the non-proliferation regime. Existing nuclear states will not give up their weapons unless there is a water-tight regime in place that ensures that other states are barred from gaining this capacity.
Hence we must empower the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to credibly verify that all nuclear activities remain solely for peaceful purposes. All states must be ready to accept such verification, and we must install effective and strong sanctions in order to collectively punish violations.
Furthermore, if there is no movement on key disarmament objectives, the NPT regime will suffer. Therefore, we urgently need a legally binding test ban. We must cap all production of fissile material for weapons purposes and deal with the vast existing stocks. We must put in place improved assurances for non-nuclear weapon states so that they will not be exposed to - or threatened with - nuclear devastation. We must accelerate the process of destroying weapons, which would be the best way to ensure that they do not end up in wrong hands.
We also need to consider the threat of nuclear terrorism. Therefore, I welcome President Obama’s initiative to convene a summit on this issue. Norway has a solid record in nuclear security.
Then there is the civilian dimension. Given the expected rise in the use of nuclear energy, we also need to sharpen our approach:
we must limit the spread of sensitive technologies for uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing,
we must devise international cooperative mechanisms for nuclear fuel production, we must protect nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands, and
we must limit or stop the use of highly enriched uranium in the civilian sector.
These issues are sensitive. Many non-aligned nations fear that non-proliferation measures will restrict access to technology that may be important for their economic development and energy security.
However, by implementing and balancing both non-proliferation and nuclear security measures, developing countries will be better positioned to take part in developing civilian nuclear cooperation. The same logic is being applied to the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.
There are no lack of challenges and challengers to the NPT regime and the disarmament agenda. Iran and North Korea are among those rightly mentioned in this regard. But we should also take a broader perspective.
Today’s globalised world is increasingly multipolar. New powers have emerged, not least in Asia and Latin America. These new powers will claim their seats at the table and demand to be shown respect for their opinions and interests. This does not have to be a more dangerous world. But if we want to prevent a new era of great power competition and the risk of large-scale conflicts, we need to adapt and strengthen our multilateral security regimes so that they reflect this emerging order.
We need a more updated and firm commitment from the key players in the international system. First and foremost, we need a shared understanding of the dangers of proliferation of nuclear weapons, including with the regard to the emerging powers. We must strive to avoid the perception that acquiring nuclear weapons is a sign of international strength and prestige.
All the other serious dangers we face in the world today pale in comparison with the devastation that nuclear weapons could cause. Against this backdrop, it was worrying to see the lack of public attention in the last decades. The general public seemed to have thought that the nuclear threat somehow disappeared with the Cold War. My generation is at the forefront here. We grew up with the nuclear threat, we fought against it, but then we dropped that agenda when the Cold War came to an end. We moved on to more imminent issues such as climate change, poverty, development and globalisation.
But the problem is that nuclear weapons didn’t go away. The huge danger they represent persists. We urgently need the nuclear file back on the agenda. We need broad-based, international political determination to achieve total nuclear abolition. We cannot afford any more years of nuclear complacency.
The good news is that for the first time in several years, there are signs that there is reason for optimism. We see a clear shift in international politics towards a substantial disarmament agenda, with public awareness and support for disarmament efforts on the rise.
In a number of countries, including my own, former heads of government and foreign ministers are advocating the elimination of nuclear weapons – nothing less. Many of those who are now speaking out were the hawks of yesterday. Who would have believed, way back then, that they would see Henry Kissinger and Ole Kopreitan fighting for the same noble cause?
I have been sitting at the same table as Kissinger and Senators Nunn, Perry and Shultz on more than one occasion – and I could hardly believe what I heard. They all called for setting the course towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. By simple logic, they stated that the alternative was unacceptable. And, they went on, when that is the answer we can proceed to the right question: How do we get the process of elimination started?
Their standpoint, you will agree, does not stem from mere altruism, but rather a sudden outbreak of common sense based on thorough analysis of new and unpredictable security challenges.
Now, from the Obama administration we are seeing a renewed commitment to multilateral processes in disarmament and increased support for the UN Security Council. In Prague in April last year (as I mentioned) President Obama stated clearly, with conviction “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”. Shortly after, President Medvedev responded to the challenge, and today Russian and US negotiators may be in the final phase towards a new agreement on deep cuts in nuclear arsenals.
Combined, these international developments could give new impetus to nuclear disarmament. Still, we know from past experience that positive momentum can be halted and even rolled back. To secure a sustained effort for nuclear disarmament, we need to do two things:
First, we need to reframe the nuclear issue to include all relevant aspects. We need to review our strategic, doctrinal approach to national and international security. As Obama said in Prague, “to put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same”. And I would add: We need to make use of the conceptual insights gained through the humanitarian disarmament processes of recent years.
Second, we need to take a fresh look at how multilateral negotiations are being conducted, and in particular pay more attention to the increasing role of new and emerging powers on the global stage. For, as we saw on climate in Copenhagen, and as we see in the ongoing discussions about world trade in the Doha (development) round – there can be no substantial global agreement today without their active participation.
NATO too has a role to play in helping to reduce the prominence of nuclear weapons in security policy and re-examining the security strategies based on nuclear deterrence. Three years ago, Norway and Germany took the initiative to raise NATO’s profile in arms control, and more importantly to ensure that disarmament was viewed as an essential component of the Alliance’s security policy. The initiative mobilised broad support and will hopefully have an impact on NATO’s new Strategic Concept to be agreed later this year (the main theme for this conference).
However, let me be clear: NATO is not a disarmament organisation. It is a political military alliance for the defence of its member states. A key responsibility of any government is to provide security for its people. We acknowledge the importance of military forces – for our defence and for our security. The essential and enduring purpose of NATO is to deter armed attacks on its member states by sharing a collective defence clause, as expressed in Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty.
But we must be ready to discuss and adapt the strategies by which this goal is achieved. That is why we see NATO as a relevant arena for our disarmament policies as well. We never subscribed to the simple thesis that more weapons equals more security. Real security is a broader notion, where political commitment and binding agreements – based on both trust and verification – must have centre stage.
The last time NATO discussed its Strategic Concept was in 1999. At that time, NATO maintained its Cold War nuclear doctrine in principle, but with fewer weapons and a lower alert status. It underlined that the likelihood of nuclear weapons being used or threatened to be used was remote, but nevertheless the nuclear option remained open.
The current process to revise NATO’s Strategic Concept must include a reconsideration of the Alliance’s deterrence doctrine. We cannot credibly expect others to renounce the nuclear option, while we maintain that nuclear deterrence is still vital to our own security, twenty years after the end of the Cold War.
There is no immediate consensus now on this approach in the Alliance. The nuclear dimension of deterrence is emphasised differently among allies. But the strength of NATO is that we pool our perspectives and then reach consensus.
Our view is that both the scope and credibility of NATO’s approach to nuclear weapons need to be reconsidered in a much more realistic way than was the case ten years ago.
We need to ask some fundamental questions: What possible contribution to security can these weapons conceivably make? What security considerations are now being outdated by globalisation of interests - and by the development of political norms and more cooperative patterns? And how can security gaps, where nuclear deterrence is still considered to be warranted, be filled by other means, since the use of nuclear weapons would obviously be utterly devastating?
Or to put it this way: If we want to reduce the salience of nuclear weapons, we need to make sure that the Alliance’s conventional capacities are structured in such a way that they maintain the collective defence purpose in a credible manner.
We should not forget that for several allies, the US nuclear umbrella is still perceived as their primary security guarantee. Norway’s core area initiative in NATO should, therefore, also be viewed in light of this fact, as it suggests practical steps to improve NATO’s planning, situational awareness, command structure and conventional capacities in and around the Euro-Atlantic area.
The security doctrines – not only of NATO but also those of states outside NATO – must be considered in this perspective, whether the frame of reference is regional or global. For NATO, it is vital to strengthen the overall dialogue and cooperation with Russia.
The NATO–Russia Council resumed its work last year. An important NRC workshop on nuclear doctrines was held in Oslo last November, and we should take this agenda forward together.
Russia is Norway’s big neighbour; we share a 192-kilometre border. For Norway it is vital that Russia is an integral part of global nuclear disarmament talks. Close to our border we still find one of the world’s largest concentrations of nuclear capabilities. The nuclear arsenal on the Kola Peninsula is enormous.
This is also NATO’s neighbourhood. And that is why the Norwegian Government actively pursues a dialogue about the High North in NATO circles; we do this not to raise an alarm, but as a continued reminder of a strategic reality.
The broader security issues in Europe, including the general security architecture, the development of missile defence, and the various issues concerning conventional forces, should all be the subject of dialogue and cooperation. And we need to create a basis for implementing the Adapted Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.
There are today important windows of opportunity for progress in global disarmament diplomacy. We encourage continued nuclear arms reduction talks between the US and Russia. We urge other nuclear weapons states to join these efforts. But this cannot be left to the few nuclear states alone; it is a matter for all of humanity. All states – nuclear and non-nuclear alike - have a responsibility to create the conditions for eliminating nuclear weapons, as we all have a stake in securing our planet for future generations.
Norway will seek to exert its influence in different arenas. With our allies we will promote changes in NATO. We will reach out to non-aligned states. We will engage civil society. Our aim is to forge a new and more lasting international understanding of how to set a lasting course towards ridding ourselves of the nuclear menace.
Let us then further broaden our perspectives. Still we have much work to do if we are to make substantial progress on the issues of nuclear weapons – be it in the NPT framework or in other arenas. I believe we need to identify the links between different spheres of disarmament, to let lessons from one field inspire the efforts in another. Let us take into account the fact that as progress on the nuclear agenda stalled, progress in disarmament was made elsewhere. Remember that the nuclear standstill did not shut other windows of opportunity.
Let me explain, and let me recall the basic fact: that disarmament is a tool to enhance international, national and human security, for states and for people.
In order to employ this tool in a productive manner adapted to present-day realities, we have been engaged in expanding the state-to-state framework of balances, deterrence and reassurance. We have come to the understanding that only by approaching disarmament in the broadest sense – including the humanitarian and development aspects – can we achieve real progress. In short, there was a need to reframe the challenge of disarmament, and this is the main message to you this morning.
In an otherwise – I would say - non-productive disarmament landscape during the last decades, we do find two real success stories:
the Mine Ban Convention of 1997 and
the Convention on Cluster Munitions of 2008.
These two treaties stand out by setting new international legal norms in a comprehensive package of weapon-specific measures. They were the result of innovative processes and conceptual approaches.
But they also sprang from a strong undercurrent in international affairs in recent years concerning the norms governing the conduct of war. When we compare the situation today with the world twenty years ago, two factors stand out:
First, we have seen a significant strengthening of international humanitarian law. Increased focus on the protection of civilians sets limits for what weapons may be used - and how. And the norm governing what is acceptable in the conduct of war has become considerably more restrictive.
Second, there is now far greater understanding of the relationship between military means and political goals. The use of military force may be necessary to achieve legitimate political objectives. However, certain weapons, and the use of weapons in certain ways, may also be counterproductive to these objectives.
This way of thinking is not completely new. Already in 1868, the St. Petersburg Declaration prohibited the use of small explosive projectiles, expressly in order to reduce unnecessary suffering on the battlefield. In 1925, the international community agreed on the Geneva Protocol banning the use of poisonous gases in warfare, such as chemical and biological weapons.
So, although the concept of “humanitarian disarmament” has emerged over the last few years, the idea of making inhuman weapons illegal is far from new. Now, what does “humanitarian disarmament” mean in practice, on the ground? What have we learned from these new approaches to disarmament?
Let me use the cluster munitions process as an example. We learned new, valuable lessons of how powerful alliances can be created when governments and NGOs work well together. No veto to the least willing – those who want to make progress can and must do so!
Some would ask: Can the approach exemplified by the Oslo Process and the Ottawa process that produced the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997 be relevant to other areas of disarmament? In certain respects I would think so. First of all, (as I mentioned) these processes have forced us to rethink the concept of disarmament. We have moved beyond the traditional understanding of disarmament solely as a means of reducing armed forces and eliminating weapons.
Although this remains crucial, we have now increased focus on the rights of victims and the prevention of humanitarian tragedy, in short, the rights of civilians, the human factor. Disarmament seen from this perspective has an important norm-setting function, and it is clear that it concerns us all.
This is easily seen in relation to small arms, landmines and cluster munitions, where nearly all the victims are civilians. The uncontrolled use of small arms and light weapons is an immense threat to development and basic human rights. Small arms are in fact the real mass destructive device, killing up to 2000 people every day.
Disarmament at this level is essential. Not only to avoid the threat to international peace and security, but also to realise individual rights to life and health – the right to development.
We recognise, of course, the right of states to acquire weapons for self-defence. Norway does so and will continue to do so. But at the same time, states also have the right – and the obligation - to defend themselves against the loss of civilian lives due to
uncontrolled proliferation of arms, and
the use of explosives in populated areas.
In shaping a modern foreign and security policy we need to ask: How can we – Norway – make a difference? Let draw some other lessons from the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Cluster munitions were developed in the Cold War era. They were intended as area weapons to prevent large troop concentrations from moving forward. Many believed them to be crucial to military operations. It was also maintained that modern munitions were reliable in use and would self-destruct.
However, research and tests undertaken by the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment – as well as documentation from the 2006 war in Lebanon – proved that cluster munitions were inaccurate and unreliable. It turned out that on the battlefield, cluster munitions had a failure rate at least ten times higher than what was claimed by their producers, whose tests apparently had been set up to provide the best possible – but highly unrealistic – conditions.
In the course of the process, we also found that there were many further reasons to get rid of these weapons, including their highly indiscriminate area effect, and the enduring humanitarian problem created by unexploded remnants.
In short, through the Oslo Process, cluster munitions were found to be inappropriate for modern warfare. The Convention on Cluster Munitions therefore prohibits the use, production and trade of these weapons. Contrary to what some pessimists and cynics expected, we achieved a ban on all cluster munitions that have ever been produced, and we set very strong criteria for future substitute weapons. The Convention strengthens international humanitarian law and it provides a framework for implementation.
The entire stockpile of Norwegian cluster munitions will be destroyed before the end of this year – long before the timeframe set out in the Convention.
The vast majority of our NATO allies – 20 out of 28 so far – have made similar commitments. It should also be noted that although NATO used cluster munitions against Serbia in 1999, such weapons have not been used by ISAF forces in Afghanistan for several years. Their detrimental effect in a complex stability operation like the one in Afghanistan was actually recognised even before the Convention was in place.
On 3 December 2008, a majority of UN member states signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions here in Oslo (some of you, Ambassadors, were there). Today 104 states have signed, and the Convention will enter into force later this year.
While looking ahead to this milestone, we already see that the Convention on Cluster Munitions – like the Mine Ban Convention before it – has set a new standard for the conduct of warfare. Although large producers and potential users of cluster munitions have neither signed nor ratified the Convention, the use of cluster munitions is highly stigmatised and would entail major political risk for all states, whether they are party to the Convention or not.
The key here is that the Convention reinforces the international norm of the protection of civilians in armed conflicts. It clearly extends beyond the states that have ratified the relevant treaties, such as the Geneva Conventions. And, maybe most interestingly, according to industry representatives, it appears that the international market for cluster munitions has basically collapsed. When hardly anyone seeks to purchase these munitions, the weapon producers will follow the money – the law of the market – as they always do, and adapt their research and development accordingly.
My point is that international efforts to ban or regulate a particular weapon must also address the effects of the weapon, and not just its intended use.
In this way, the focus has turned to the humanitarian consequences. This, in turn, reflects a new understanding of security, as an issue that directly affects human beings and their communities.
In other words, we have to address today’s threats against human security from armed violence at all levels – locally, nationally and globally – with both remedial and preventive measures.
In order to do this, we must involve all states and not only weapon possessors and producers in cross-regional partnerships. It is crucial to involve civil society, both as advocates, and as field experts on the effects of the weapons on the ground. In general, civil society will continue to have a key role to play in our efforts to achieve conventional arms control and disarmament.
Norway will actively promote the inclusion of armed violence on the UN agenda in the upcoming review process of the Millennium Development Goals. With this is in mind, I will host a conference on armed violence here in Oslo in April together with the UNDP leader Helen Clark.
The protection of civilians has been on the UN Security Council’s agenda since the late 1990s, and a broader understanding of the issue now seems to be emerging. We recognise the need to address the protection of civilians in a way that includes peacekeeping, the rule of law, security, development and disarmament. UN operations are increasingly given mandates that focus on the protection of civilians as their core task. And – interestingly – this is now at the centre of General McChrystal’s new strategy for ISAF in Afghanistan. As a consequence, allied reliance on air power, which has been the primary cause of unintended civilian harm inflicted by the international forces, has been significantly reduced. Again, the humanitarian impulse is fully in line with the political purpose of the mission.
A top priority for the Norwegian Government is the urgent need – internationally - to control the flow of small arms and light weapons. We need to make states responsible for the trade in weapons. We must promote multilateral efforts to this end, including the role of regional institutions. And we need an Arms Trade Treaty. The negotiations for such an important tool will start this year and our ambitions are high.
With reference to the three categories of weapons I have mentioned – small arms, cluster munitions and mines – I should also underline that the full implementation of the Mine Ban Convention remains a continued priority for the Norwegian Government. We hold the Presidency of the Meeting of the States Parties this year. Again, our goal is to keep a sharp focus on the humanitarian objectives of the Convention in terms of compliance with its obligations and realities in the field, including victim assistance.
There are of course some critical differences between the nuclear disarmament agenda and the agenda that led to the ban on land mines and cluster munitions.
But at the same time, there are some key, shared lessons to be learned. For example, experience from humanitarian disarmament should guide us on how to pursue and negotiate disarmament issues in general.
And if we are to achieve results within a reasonable timeframe, we cannot allow those who want the least to set the pace. This is actually what is happening in most of the traditional negotiating bodies that were set up in the post-World War II era and during the Cold War, when the world was very different.
Some maintain that consensus is vital when it comes to nuclear disarmament. I am not fully convinced. I believe it would be possible to develop norms against the use of nuclear weapons, and even to outlaw them, without a consensus decision, and that such norms will eventually be applied globally.
We cannot leave it to the nuclear weapon states alone to decide when it is time for them to do away with these weapons. Their destructive power would affect us all if put to use – and their threat continue to affect us all – therefore they are everyone’s business.
So, taking a comprehensive and innovative disarmament approach means that we do not allow ourselves to be at the mercy of an unwilling – and often small – minority.
This leads to my second critique of today’s disarmament diplomacy: its frequently exclusive character. The most extreme example of this is, of course, the old-fashioned approach of bilateral or trilateral negotiations.
Don’t get me wrong, I sincerely hope that a follow-up to START will soon be agreed. But is it fair to let the fate of our planet be determined by a handful of countries?
Furthermore, the traditional negotiating bodies are failing to include relevant stake-holders, such as civil society representatives with field experience. At the other end of the spectrum, NGOs have played and continue to play a very constructive role in the Mine Ban Convention and in the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Unless civil society is included in the process, future arms control negotiations are in real danger of being out of touch with the concerns of people on the ground.
A more comprehensive and innovative approach to all types of disarmament must apply also to the weapons of mass destruction. And disarmament must not be a process for the “enlightened few”, but an inclusive process, involving all relevant stakeholders. We must strive for broad-based international agreements, and not allow ourselves to be blocked by those wanting the least progress. Norway has been an active player, and will continue to take initiatives in all regional and international forums, together with states that share our ambition to achieve concrete results.