Signing of the Convention on Cluster Munitions
3 December, Oslo, Norway
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
I warmly thank the Government of Norway for hosting this historic signing ceremony for the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Australia participated actively in negotiating this Convention because we were absolutely convinced the time had come for the international community to firmly act against cluster munitions that cause unacceptable humanitarian harm.
It did so in Dublin in May.
I am therefore delighted to announce that a short while ago, on behalf of the Government of Australia, I signed the Convention here in Oslo.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions delivers a strong humanitarian outcome.
Its ground-breaking provisions on victim assistance will deliver for survivors of cluster munitions, their families and their communities.
Its clearance and assistance provisions will help deliver to communities their lands free from the debilitating effects of cluster munitions.
It will deliver because States have ensured the prohibition, without delay, of cluster munitions that have inflicted enormous damage and suffering on civilians in areas of conflict.
This is, quite simply, a remarkable humanitarian achievement.
Australia's region, the Asia-Pacific region, has regrettably experienced first-hand the devastating impact of cluster munitions years after conflicts have ended.
Countries such as Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam continue to suffer severe socio-economic impacts from these weapons and other explosive remnants of war.
Laos, for example, is one the most cluster munitions-affected countries in the world. Australia commends its efforts to promote this Convention. Australia already provides clearance and survivor assistance in Laos.
Australia is working in our region to make the humanitarian goals of the Convention a reality, through our five-year Mine Action Strategy, which is backed up by a $75 million pledge.
The Mine Action Strategy covers landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war. It focuses on ridding communities of these weapons and assisting them to rebuild their lives and achieve peace, security and development.
Australia's two-year, $10 million pledge to Afghanistan's ‘Community Clearpath' Program is one example.
One of the largest programs of its kind in the world, this community based initiative tackles mines and explosive remnants of war in Uruzgan and border provinces.
Australia has also provided substantial contributions to the United Nations Mine Action Service for clearance of cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war in Lebanon. We look forward to continuing to assist Lebanon in this respect.
Rarely has the international community acted with such determined common purpose as in the negotiation of this Convention.
I congratulate Norway for its untiring commitment in bringing about this new Treaty.
I congratulate Ireland for its outstanding Chairmanship of the Diplomatic Conference in May at which the text of this Convention was agreed.
I acknowledge the determined leadership of all members of the core group, as well as all States that contributed their ideas and energy to the negotiations.
As States we also owe civil society a great deal of credit for this outcome.
Civil society, in particular the International Committee of the Red Cross and key members of the Cluster Munitions Coalition, kept the issue before the public and before governments and contributed impressive expertise to the deliberations.
I pay particular tribute to the inspiring role played by survivors.
I urge all here today to turn our determined common purpose to promote the Convention's rapid entry into force, its full implementation and its universal membership.
Australia will contribute strongly to such efforts.
I am proud Australia is one of the original signatories to this vitally important humanitarian treaty and am personally honoured to represent Australia at this historic signing.