Norway Wins Recognition for Ban on Cluster Munitions

2/10/2009 // Norway`s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jonas Gahr Støre, and Ministry official Steffen Kongstad, who led the negotiations on the cluster munitions ban, have been voted persons of the year by the prominent disarmament organisation Arms Control Association (ACA). 

"This is welcome recognition of an important piece of teamwork towards a common goal", said Mr Støre.

In 2006 Støre announced that Norway would convene an effort to create an international ban on the Cluster Munition. The Oslo process led to the negotiation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which 94 countries signed in December 2008. Kongstad led Norway's crossdepartmental effort and was added as an award recipient after many voters wrote in his name.

"The attention that cluster munitions have received shows that humanitarian considerations have won through, and that we should now take a fresh look at the disarmament issue", said Mr Kongstad. 

Nine other individuals and institutions were nominated by the Arms Control Association, and the voting was carried out using an online poll on ACA`s website.

Among the other nominees were familiar names such as Chris Hill (lead US negotiator in the six-party talks on North Korea`s nuclear weapons programme), Desmond Tutu and the Elders initiative, and several high-profile US politicians, including George Schultz, Bill Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn. 

"The Convention on Cluster Munitions is the most important new humanitarian arms control treaty of the still-young century and Norway's Støre and Kongstad deserve great praise for their leadership," said Jeff Abramson, conventional weapons analyst with the Arms Control Association.
"Working with other countries and a dedicated coalition of civil society leaders and cluster munitions survivors, their actions spurred meaningful progress to bar indiscriminate weapons that have killed or maimed tens of thousands of noncombatants," Abramson added.
Cluster munitions are bombs, rockets and artillery shells that release smaller submunitions over a broad area, often injuring civilians during conflict or afterwards when initially unexploded devices later detonate when disturbed. 



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