‘Laos is the country in the world most affected by cluster munitions. I am therefore pleased that Norway and Laos have today signed an agreement on Norwegian support for implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Laos,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.
The agreement between Norway and Laos was signed by Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende and Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister of Laos Thongloun Sisoulith in Oslo on 6 October.
Laos, the country in the world most affected by cluster munitions, played a key role in the work to develop the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Although it is now more than 40 years since these weapons were used in Laos, vast areas are still contaminated with cluster munition remnants, and every year Laotian children and adults are killed or injured. In recent years, however, Laos has managed to reduce the number of new victims from more than 300 annually to less than 50 in 2013. The Laotian authorities have also taken important steps to work more efficiently when surveying and clearing affected areas and ensuring that farmland and schools can safely be used.
‘Norway and Laos have worked closely together on this matter for many years. Today’s new agreement reaffirms our commitment to work together and will strengthen our cooperation in the future. We are directly allocating NOK 6 million to the work to clear cluster munitions in the country. In the time ahead we will cooperate with Laos to define other concrete projects that will help fulfil the goals of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and ensure that there are no new victims of these weapons,’ said Mr Brende.
The agreement between Norway and Laos is valid until 1 August 2020, which coincides with the Convention’s ten-year deadline for clearance of contaminated areas. The agreement specifically supports Laos’s national plan to reach that goal. The Convention prohibits all use, production, transfer or stockpiling of cluster munitions, and requires States Parties to clear all areas contaminated with cluster munition remnants and to destroy all stockpiles of such weapons. It was signed in Oslo on 3 December 2008 following a process initiated by Norway in 2007. To date 114 countries have joined the Convention; 86 of them are already States Parties.
Norway is one of the largest contributors to land mine and cluster munitions clearance, and allocates nearly NOK 300 million annually to this work throughout the world.