Since the mid-1990s, Norway has given high priority to efforts to reduce the suffering caused by landmines. Norway played a leading role in the process that ended with the adoption of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (the Mine Ban Convention), and the text of the Convention was finalised in negotiations that took place in Oslo in September 1997.
Norway enjoys great international recognition for its work on the Mine Ban Convention and its other humanitarian anti-mine initiatives. Norway has contributed specialist expertise in this area, and has given a great deal of financial support to anti-mine initiatives at international level: between 1997 and December 2005, it allocated a total of USD 200 million to such initiatives. Norway also plays an active part in mobilising resources for international anti-mine initiatives, and in ensuring that existing resources are used more efficiently.
Norwegian NGOs play an important role both in efforts to implement the Mine Ban Convention and in other humanitarian anti-mine initiatives. Norwegian People’s Aid is one of the largest actors in the humanitarian mine clearance field, and the organisation’s expertise has helped to make Norway a leader in this area.
The prohibition of anti-personnel mines is generally considered to be an important international human rights principle. In addition to preventing the use of anti-personnel mines in warfare, the ban on anti-personnel mines paves the way for socio-economic development in countries affected by war. Clearing minefields after a war is an important means of building trust between the parties and enabling the land to be used for other purposes. Support for humanitarian anti-mine initiatives has therefore been an important part of Norway’s contribution to the peace processes in which it has been closely involved, including in Sri Lanka and Sudan.
The Mine Ban Convention was opened for signature on 3 December 1997, and entered into force on 1 March 1999. It has created a completely new norm as regards anti-personnel mines. Since the Convention came into force, there has been a marked decrease in the use of anti-personnel mines, a sharp drop in their production, an almost complete halt to their sale, a rapid reduction in stocks, clearance of even more minefields and, not least, a considerable reduction in the number of new mine victims. At present, 151 countries have ratified the Convention, but it has been accepted as an international norm even more widely, and many countries that have not ratified it have nevertheless decided to reflect its provisions in their anti-personnel mine policies.