From 12-15 May 2013, the President of the Third Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Ambassador Steffen Kongstad made a visit to Serbia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The visit was occasioned by a Workshop in Skopje on the Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, organised by RACVIAC, the Government Office for Mine Action of the Republic of Croatia, the Norwegian People’s Aid and the Ministry of Defence of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
In his statement to the workshop, Ambassador Kongstad emphasised that the Convention on Cluster Munitions has made considerable difference: “The use of cluster munitions is today generally considered unacceptable, illegal and unbecoming of responsible members of the international community. Many former users, producers and stockpilers have taken steps to rid themselves of these weapons, and the international market for such ammunition has virtually disappeared. This is all very much thanks to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.”
While in the region, Ambassador Kongstad also visited Serbia. There he attended the opening of the third phase of a clearance completion program in Bujanovac together with the Serbian Mine Action Centre and Norwegian People’s Aid, and had meetings with representatives of the Serbian Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs, as well as civil society. The purpose of the visit was to promote accession to the Convention by Serbia, and to discuss ways by which the international community can assist Serbia clear contaminated areas and destroy its stockpiles of cluster munitions. With the exception of Serbia, all of the countries of the Former Yugoslavia are States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
“As a country affected by cluster munitions, Serbia knows better than most other States, how these weapons are harmful to civilians, even long after hostilities have ended. As President of the Third Meeting of States Parties, I encourage all States not party to the Convention to ratify or accede as soon as possible”, said Kongstad.
For Ambassador Kongstad’s Statement at the workshop in Skopje, please click here.