Article | Last updated: 22/11/2018 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
On 30 November 2018, Norway took over the presidency of the Mine Ban Treaty from Afghanistan. Norway will seek to bring renewed political attention and momentum to the work carried out under the Treaty, at a time when major humanitarian crises around the world are placing huge demands on donor funding for post-conflict mine clearance.
As part of its global humanitarian engagement, Norway is working to combat the use of weapons that have particularly severe consequences for civilians. Norway played a key role in the process leading to the adoption of the Mine Ban Treaty in Oslo in September 1997. Norway also played a leading role in ensuring the adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was signed in Oslo in December 2008.
The main rationale behind the bans on anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions is that these weapons do not distinguish between combatants and civilians. Moreover, they continue to kill and maim people long after a conflict has ended.
The Mine Ban Treaty (164 states parties) and the Cluster Munitions Convention (106 states parties) prohibit all use, production and transfer of these weapons. All states that have ratified these conventions have undertaken to help affected countries clear mines and cluster munitions, and to provide assistance for victims. Norway has long been one of the top five donors to efforts to survey and clear mines and cluster munitions. Currently, Norway is supporting efforts in 19 countries. Norway works in direct partnership with humanitarian mine clearance organisations at country level and promotes capacity building of national mine clearance authorities.
Much has been achieved
Much has been achieved in the field of mine clearance over the past 20 years. However, in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Eastern Ukraine and Yemen, we have seen renewed use of banned land mines and cluster munitions. Mine clearance in areas of Syria and Iraq that have been liberated from ISIL is particularly challenging. The number of civilian deaths is extremely high, due to the widespread use of improvised explosive devices. A long-term commitment on the part of donors and close coordination of international efforts will be essential to the success of mine clearance activities in these areas.
In 2018, Norway provided NOK 325 million to these efforts. The same level of support will be provided in 2019. In recent years, major new mine clearance operations have been launched in Syria, Iraq and Colombia.
There is considerable potential for increasing the number of donor countries contributing to global action on mines and cluster munitions. Moreover, in a great many countries, the pace of progress is slow. Many affected countries that are states parties to the Mine Ban Treaty have asked for an extension of the Treaty’s 10-year deadline for completing the clearance of contaminated areas.
Norway provides support for victims of landmines through the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the NGO Humanity & Inclusion. In 2018, Norway channelled around NOK 26 million of its funding for mine action directly to efforts to help victims of landmines. Furthermore, Norway is seeking to prevent more people from becoming victims of mines by providing funding for mine risk education for communities in affected areas. This funding is channelled through mine clearance organisations, as well as being allocated directly to Unicef’s efforts to improve mine risk education in Iraq.
There is an urgent need to strengthen and coordinate efforts to prevent casualties among refugees and internally displaced people who are returning to areas that have been heavily contaminated by landmines and explosives.