The nearest minefield is nearly 2,000 kilometres away from Oslo, yet over 700 delegates from the world over have come to Norway for the quinquennial global summit against anti-personnel mines. The Oslo Review Conference on a Mine-Free World is the name given to the meeting of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Production, Stockpiling and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (or Mine Ban Convention for short).
The Conference is the world’s largest gathering of government representatives, mine action experts and survivors. Business is underway with over three dozen experts on assistance to victims attending a side meeting inaugurated this morning by Norwegian Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein, and the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility.
HRH Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Eriksen Søreide, and the Special Envoys of the Convention, HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium and HRH Prince Mired Raad Zeid Al-Hussein of Jordan will inaugurate the meeting at the Oslo City Hall on 25 November at 16:00. Discussions and deliberations begin on Tuesday 26 November at 09:00 at the Clarion Hotel The Hub and end on 29 November.
If there are no minefields in Norway, why then a meeting in Oslo?
In a way the Convention is coming back to one of its birthplaces. “Norway is a firm supporter of the norm against these forbidden and indiscriminate weapons and actively campaigned with like-minded States to create this strong humanitarian disarmament instrument more than 20 years ago. In fact, the Convention was adopted here in Oslo on 18 September 1997,” said the Norwegian Ambassador to the UN in Geneva Hans Brattskar who presides over the work of the treaty.
“The Mine Ban Convention is a lifesaving protection instrument aiming to end the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines. This is in line with Norway’s humanitarian strategy and strong focus on protection. This Convention has achieved a lot but 20 years on, it needs renewed political attention in order to respond to new challenges. Norway will continue to be a consistent partner in mine action,” added the Ambassador.
In addition to receiving reports on efforts to clear mines in 32 States Parties and assistance to victims in 30 States including in some of the poorest on earth, destroy stocks of anti-personnel mines in three countries (two of them in Europe), and advance the acceptance of this Convention among States that have not yet joined, the Conference will have the following tasks at hand,
· Study and make decisions on the requests to be presented by Argentina, Cambodia, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Tajikistan and Yemen requesting to extend their mine clearance deadlines.
· Discuss and adopt the Oslo Action Plan, a roadmap to implement the Convention for the next five years and towards the ambition of a mine-free world by 2025 in as many countries as possible.
· Adopt the Oslo Political Declaration committing members to fulfil the Convention including through actions highlighted in the Oslo Action Plan to the best of their abilities.
Norway has been supporting Mine Action for 25 years and is one of the world’s top five donors for global mine action (2018: ca USD 40 million), currently funding mine action in 20 countries across the world.
The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention was adopted in Oslo in 1997, opened for signature in Ottawa the same year and entered into force on 1 March 1999. To date, nearly 85% of the world’s states (164) have joined the Convention. These States together have destroyed nearly 52 million anti-personnel mines and returned for their normal use, millions of square metres of land that was once contaminated with mines.