Humanitarian disarmament

When people are unable to lead normal lives because of undetonated cluster munitions or abandoned landmines, or because small arms have fallen into the wrong hands, the economic, social and humanitarian consequences are enormous. The objective of humanitarian disarmament is to prevent and reduce armed violence by focusing attention on the unacceptable humanitarian suffering caused by the use of weapons.

Norway is working to promote the adoption of international conventions and agreements relating to humanitarian disarmament, to ensure compliance with these agreements, and to make sure that countries’ obligations under these agreements are incorporated into national legislation and implemented in practice. Norway’s compliance with and ongoing work to promote conventions and agreements that have already been adopted, such as the Mine Ban Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions, are in turn strengthening international humanitarian law. Norway seeks at all times to ensure that efforts in the field and work at the multilateral level are closely linked and mutually reinforcing. Norway is also working to ensure that a gender perspective is incorporated into international processes and projects in the field, and to safeguard the rights of people with disabilities. 

The Mine Ban Convention was adopted in1997. As of November 2014, it has 162 states parties. The Convention prohibits the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and also includes positive obligations to assist in mine clearance in affected areas, to destroy stockpiles and to assist mine victims. The norm created by the Convention is now well established internationally and the use of mines is condemned in all quarters, including by countries that are not states parties to the convention. The greatest challenge is to complete clearance of contaminated areas and safeguard the rights of victims. More information can be found on the website of the Mine Ban Convention.       

Mineryddingsarbeidere. Norsk Folkehjelp

Mine clearance workers. Photo: Norwegian People’s Aid

The Convention on Cluster Munitions was adopted in 2008. As of January 2015, a total of 116 states have joined the Convention, of which 89 are states parties. This Convention too prohibits all use, production, storage and transfer of a specific type of weapon, and sets out obligations to clear cluster munition contaminated areas, destroy stockpiles and assist victims. Even though the Convention on Cluster Munitions is relatively new, it has already established a clear international norm, and the use of cluster munitions is widely condemned. In recent years, only a few actors have used cluster munitions, most notably in Syria. Worldwide, fewer countries are affected by cluster munitions than by mines. More information about cluster munitions can be found on the Convention website.

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was adopted in 2013 and entered into force in December 2014. The objective of the ATT is to establish the highest possible common international standards for regulating the international trade in conventional arms, and to prevent and eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms. The ATT aims contribute to international and regional peace, security and stability, and to reduce human suffering.

Work in the field of humanitarian disarmament also includes following up other processes, for example the UN Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, efforts to curb the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, and discussions relating to the use of autonomous weapons.

In recent years, Norway has provided NOK 250–300 million for the clearance of mines and cluster munitions in affected countries, victim rehabilitation and assistance, the securing of stockpiles and support for advocacy work. Norwegian People’s Aid and the Norwegian Red Cross are important partners in this work. For more information, see the annual report on Norway’s humanitarian policy.