On August 1st Sarajevo’s main street, Ferhadija, was as usual filled with people. They stopped in front of the cathedral, where there was a celebration of the entry into force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). This Convention entered into force on August 1st 2010, and has so far been signed by 111 countries and ratified by 75 of these countries. The event was organized by the “Landmines Survivors Initiative” an organization that the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy in Sarajevo cooperates with and supports. They delivered a short address and handed out information flyers, while Sarajevo Drum Orchestra played and made curious people stop and participate at the event.
Ajka and her son Aldin were both in injured by a cluster bomb in 1995, when Aldin was only 5 years old. They have received psychosocial assistance from the LSI and despite continuous health, financial and psychological difficulties Aldin is currently pursuing his studies in mining and trying to lead a normal life like other youngsters his age.
During the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) and afterwards, both children and adults were affected by cluster munitions and landmines. There are still many undetonated munitions that continue to pose a threat and inflict injuries every year. In addition, large areas of arable land are made inaccessible to the existence of cluster munitions and landmines. Despite the fact that some organizations had been working to limit the use of cluster munitions before the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, they were used extensively during the war.
To prevent an increase in civilian suffering as a result of cluster munitions and landmines, the Norwegian government launched the “Oslo Process” in February 2007, calling for the development of new international rules on cluster munitions. The process was supported by 46 states. Together they agreed on several common goals, which eventually formed the basis of the present Convention on Cluster Munitions. The framework for the cooperation was formed as a result of the Norwegian initiative. This was done through a series of international conferences until the final negotiations in Dublin in May 2008 and signing ceremony in Oslo on December 3rd that same year.
As late as in 2011, 22 people in BiH were injured by landmines, 9 of them died. 17 years after the war, cluster munitions and landmines remain a major challenge for Bosnia-Herzegovina. Norway has been one of the largest contributors in the work against cluster munitions and landmines, and issue continues to be of high priority to the Norwegian government.