Did New Zealand achieve its objectives at the Dublin Convention on Cluster Munitions?
Yes. We achieved a superb outcome in Dublin, and I am proud to say that New Zealand played a key role in that. Our first objective was to get a ban on cluster munitions, because undetonated sub-munitions spread over a wide area, such as in the Lebanon, effectively act as landmines, killing civilians long after war has ended. The outcome of this convention, in line with our objectives, was to virtually prohibit all cluster munitions and to require that stockpiles of such munitions be destroyed within 8 years. Our second objective was to get widespread support for the ban. We did that. The convention was supported by the United Nations, by non-governmental organisations across the board, and, I think, by all of the countries participating in Dublin. The key Cluster Munition Coalition described the event as an extraordinary convention that would save thousands of lives.
How important was the role that New Zealand played in achieving this wonderful outcome?
I think we can say justifiably that New Zealand played a key role. We were one of six countries in the Geneva process last year that, when it failed yet again to address the problem of cluster munitions, took that process outside Geneva in something called the Oslo process. It was the Oslo process that achieved in 18 months what the United Nations in Geneva had failed to do in 10 years. In February New Zealand hosted a conference in Wellington, and that laid the framework for Dublin. In Dublin we led the core process in defining what cluster munitions were and defining those that would be prohibited. As a result New Zealand, I think very deservedly, has won widespread acknowledgment for playing such a leading role.
Have the process and the convention received sufficient buy-in from countries to make a real impact on the ground in removing these weapons?
I think that we were seeking two things: to have a strong convention but also to have a breadth of support that would make that convention meaningful. We did that; we got overwhelming backing from the 111 countries that were participating in Dublin. I am very pleased to say that this convention has had a major effect even before it comes into force, with countries such as France, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, and Japan announcing the withdrawal of cluster munitions. Even for those countries that are not participants, the wide-ranging consensus that was achieved will stigmatise and make more difficult the use of cluster munitions, just as was the case with the Ottawa Convention, which stigmatised and stopped the use of landmines.