New Zealand has long been involved in humanitarian mine clearance and has supported efforts to tackle cluster munitions. Following massive use of cluster munitions in Lebanon in mid-2006, two dozen New Zealand Defence Force personnel were deployed to assist in the clearance of unexploded cluster bomb remnants.
New Zealand is one of six governments that led the 2007-2008 Oslo Process to establish the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The other Core Group members are Austria, Ireland, Mexico, Norway and Peru. In May 2007, then-Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control Hon. Phil Goff announced that New Zealand would host a crucial Oslo Process meeting.
The Wellington Conference took place from 18-22 February 2008. A total of 106 governments attended, as well as civil society participants from around the world making it the largest disarmament meeting ever convened in New Zealand.
New Zealand’s Oslo Process engagement was led by Geneva-based Ambassador Don MacKay, who played a leadership role in the negotiation of the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Ambassador MacKay played a crucial role in the May 2008 negotiations of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in his role as chair of the article concerning definitions. On 3 December 2008, Ambassador MacKay signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on New Zealand’s behalf at the Oslo Signing Conference.
In December 2008, following a change in government, Hon. Georgina Te Heuheu became New Zealand’s Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control. During 2009, Te Heuheu led the legislative process that resulted in the enactment of the Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act on 17 December 2009.
New Zealand’s Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, Ambassador Jim McLay, deposited the instrument of ratification on 22 December 2009. New Zealand was the 25th nations to ratify the convention and was thus among the first 30 ratifications that triggered entry into force on 1 August 2010.
In November 2010, Te Heuheu led New Zealand’s delegation to the historic First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Vientiane, Lao PDR, where she visited an affected province and announced a funding contribution for clearance of cluster bombs and other explosive remnants of war in Lao PDR.
In 2011, New Zealand attended the first intersessional meetings of the ban convention in Geneva, as well as its Second Meeting of States Parties in Beirut, Lebanon. In December, following a change in government, the position of New Zealand’s Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control was incorporated into the portfolio of the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In 2012, New Zealand attended the intersessional meetings of the ban convention in Geneva in April and the Third Meeting of States Parties in Oslo, Norway in September.
In 2013, New Zealand attended the intersessional meetings of the ban convention in Geneva in April and it will attend the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in Lusaka, Zambia in September.
For more information on New Zealand’s role in the movement to ban cluster bombs, check out Cluster Bombs: Banned in New Zealand, a documentary film