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NORWAY, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

Norway signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty in Ottawa on 3 December 1997. The ratification bill was passed in the Norwegian Parliament (the Storting) on 16 June 1998, and deposited at the UN on 9 July 1998. Implementing legislation was also passed by the Parliament on 16 June 1998.

Norway has been a global leader in banning antipersonnel mines. It was one of the most important members of the pro-ban “core group” of governments, and played a central role in the Ottawa process leading up to the December 1997 Treaty signing. The government was instrumental in the shaping of the Brussels Declaration in June 1997 and together with Canada actively worked to include African countries in the process and financially supported activities like the ICBL conference in Mozambique and the OAU meeting in South Africa.[1] The Norwegian government also took on the responsibility of hosting the final treaty negotiations in Oslo from 1-18 September 1997.[2] It is one of the most significant donors to mine action programs globally, and continues to be a key promoter of the universalization and effective implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.

Landmines used to be a part of the Norwegian defense system. Norway’s geographical location, bordering in the north with Russia, had an impact on strategic political and military thinking during the Cold War. A strong emphasis was placed on Norwegian security policy and the defense capability of the country. Norway’s position in NATO and close relations with the United States have been important and Norway has adapted military doctrine in accordance with NATO’s changes after the Cold War.

While Norway has been an active player on the issue of landmines for many years, it did not always support a total ban on APMs. During the expert meetings in 1994 and 1995 leading up to the Review Conference of the Convention on Conventional Weapons, the official Norwegian view was that a total ban position would be too radical. When the Minister of Foreign Affairs at that time, Mr. Bjørn Tore Godal, was asked in Parliament if Norway would work for a total ban during the CCW review conference, his response was that since there was hardly any international support for such a move, Norway would instead seek to strengthen the CCW.[3]

The Norwegian Campaign to Ban Landmines was the main proponent of a Norwegian ban on APMs and the campaign was active in lobbying various political parties and Parliamentary committees in 1995 to promote the ban issue domestically. This eventually led to a Parliamentary proposal by the Center Party to support a total ban on the production, stockpiling, sale, purchase and use of APMs and on 6 June 1995 the Norwegian Parliament accepted the proposal by consensus. With this action, the Parliament asked the Norwegian government to support a total ban on APMs, but this did not seem to have a notable impact on Norway’s stance in the ongoing CCW revisions. In fact, a newspaper article in April 1996 quoted Minister Godal expressing the same opinion of strengthening the CCW when there was no international support for a total ban.[4] This stance was openly criticized by proponents of a total ban and the Norwegian Campaign to Ban Landmines.[5]

Despite the slow shift in the government policies to incorporate the Parliamentary decision to support a total ban on APMs, the issue gained momentum in 1996 as the CCW Review Conference drew to its uninspiring conclusion with the rather limited improvements to Protocol II. Norway was one of the increasingly pro-ban countries that participated in the ICBL-sponsored meetings in Geneva to help forge a block of like-minded states that would actively work toward a ban after the close of the review conference. Norway soon emerged as one of the key allies for the ICBL in promoting a comprehensive ban.

Implementing Legislation

As a result of Norway's signing of the Mine Ban Treaty and as a necessary step to carry out its obligations under the Treaty, implementing legislation was passed by the Parliament on 16 June 1998. Instead of making adjustments in already existing laws, a separate law was formulated. Not only did this make the legal process of incorporating the articles of the Treaty into Norwegian law less complicated, it also symbolized the extent of Norway’s commitment to the achievement of a ban against APMs.[6]

The law builds upon the text of the Mine Ban Treaty and prohibits the actions that the treaty prohibits. Penal sanctions for violation of the law include fines or up to two years imprisonment. Persons guilty of gross negligence of the law can be fined or sentenced to up to six months imprisonment.[7] Section 5 of the law provides for special exceptions from penal sanctions for foreigners, primarily military personnel, whose own country has not ratified the treaty. In other words, this provides for a situation where American military forces enter Norway during training exercises with antipersonnel mines that are legal by American law, without being prosecuted in Norway. The exceptions to the law are based on an interpretation of article 9 of the Mine Ban Treaty whereby legal and other measures for the implementation of the treaty should be “appropriate.” According to Norwegian official views, “a possible prosecution of allies in such a situation cannot be seen as appropriate.”[8]

According to officials in both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense, work has begun on the report to the United Nations required under Article 7 of the Mine Ban.[9] While there is no obligation to report to the first meeting of states’ parties in Maputo in May 1999, MFA signaled that most of the information for the official report should be gathered before the meeting so that the report can be finished well in time for the September 1999 deadline.[10]

CCW and CD

On 20 April 1998, Norway ratified Protocol II of the CCW, as amended on 3 May 1996. Norway is a member of the Conference on Disarmament (CD). Its position on negotiating a ban on APM transfers in the CD is that it is superfluous to have a partial ban when one has a total ban already in place on APMs.[11]


Norway has never engaged in large-scale or technologically advanced production of landmines. There are indications of minor military production in the early 1950s of some very primitive mines, made out of a wooden box filled with TNT. Due to the time of production and the rather primitive model, the data regarding this production is rather insignificant for the purposes of this report. Norway is not producing delivery systems that can be used for APMs or any other landmines.[12]

However, in its report “Exposing the Source: U.S. Companies and the Production of Antipersonnel Mines,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed that in the early 1990s the American-based company Dyno Nobel, Inc. (formerly Ireco), whose parent company is the Norwegian Dyno Industrier AS, produced components for mines and mine delivery systems. Dyno Nobel’s response to the revelations by HRW was the renunciation of future production at Dyno Nobel.[13] Norway is currently not producing components that are designed for use in APMs. However, multiple-use detonators and chips which can be important components of legal military or civilian items are probably part of Norwegian military stocks.[14]

Norway is not producing Claymore mines, but has a record of importing such mines. The last purchase of these mines (which are called “sector charges” in Norway) occurred as late as 1997 from the Austrian company Südsterische Metall Industrie (SMI).[15] There are no plans for further purchases, but eventual new purchases of Claymores are not ruled out.[16] The critical question in Norway has been whether steps have been taken to ensure that these mines are rebuilt to be command-detonated only. Focus was placed on this issue at the time of the Oslo conference in 1997, when the media discovered the recent military purchases. The Minister of Defense at the time, Mr. Jørgen Kosmo, then admitted that nothing had been done so far to ensure that the mines would be rebuilt to be command-detonated only.[17] An operation to rebuild the Claymores in Norwegian stockpiles started during the fall of 1998 and is projected to take two years and cost approximately NOK 55 million in total.[18] This process is being carried out at LIAB in Sweden.[19]

Norway is seeking alternatives to substitute for the combat effect that APMs represented, but at the moment is not engaged in developing such alternatives. Norway is monitoring international developments in this arena.[20]


Norway is not known to have ever exported antipersonnel mines. It is currently neither exporting nor importing APMs, in accordance with the Mine Ban Treaty. Norway does reserve the right to import Claymore-type mines and antitank mines, including those with anti-handling devices. The anti-handling devices on these mines were an issue of much discussion in the article on the definitions in the Mine Ban Treaty. The diplomatic record records the discussion and the consensus that if an anti-vehicle mine with an anti-handling device explodes due to an innocent act that mine would be considered an APM under the Ottawa Treaty and thus illegal.[21]

Norway imported APMs in the past, but the last purchases (excluding the previously mentioned Claymores) were made about thirty years ago. Documentation is not available on the exact date, quantity, value and suppliers of the imports, but it is clear that a large amount of the mines were transferred to Norway in the aftermath of World War II at the time of the Marshall Plan. APMs in Norwegian stocks included the M2A-series, 1951 C (Norwegian model), M16, M-14 and the M19 Claymore mine.[22] Inquiries have been made to the Ministry of Defense about a type of Swedish Claymore, but no answers or clarifications on the possible possession of this mine have been received at the time of submission of this report. According to the Defense Ministry and the Defense High Command, plans had been made to import new APMs. This did not happen before Norway signed the ban treaty and, for obvious reasons, the plans were canceled.[23]


The transit of another country’s APMs across Norwegian territory is not prohibited by Norwegian legislation.[24] Norway’s position on the issue of transit is a matter of concern to many in the ban movement. Norway has chosen to view APMs that are moved through or transferred into the country only as a Norwegian “concern” if the transfer happens both physically, by the mines being moved to Norway, and in terms of property rights, meaning that the ownership of the mines are changed. This issue has proved to be sensitive due to the presence of American stockpiles of APMs on Norwegian territory. According to the Norwegian interpretation of the Treaty, the American-owned mines on Norwegian soil are defined as outside of Norwegian concern.[25]

There are two likely reasons for this position. First, Norway believes its national security is enhanced from having a US military stockpiles on Norwegian territory and this is probably one of the reasons the stocks were agreed upon in the first place, as a continuation of the “base policy” Norway adhered to during the Cold War.[26] Second, Norway might be afraid of losing immediate US material support in case of an emergency if the issue of inhibiting movement or removing the APMs is pushed too hard.


Norway completed destruction of the antipersonnel mines in its stockpile in October 1996, long before signing the Mine Ban Treaty. Today, Norway does not have APMs in stockpile, except a small number retained for training purposes, and Claymore mines which the government no longer classifies as APMs. The destruction was carried out at the Norwegian military's destruction site in Lærdal, Norway. The destruction method was explosion of the mines.[27] It should be noted that parts of Norwegian stocks had been destroyed prior to its decision to ban the weapon, simply because the mines were old, outdated and not usable.[28]

The specific amount spent on the destruction is not readily available, both because of the time frame of the total destruction process and because the Ministry of Defense claims that the resources spent on this activity are included in the general figures in the budgets for military personnel and activities and therefore not specifically stated.[29]

US Stocks

The USA has stocks of APMs on Norwegian territory through a bilateral agreement. The information on locations, type and quantities is classified. In a 1997 article in the newspaper Dagbladet, it was revealed that American stocks most likely to contain APMs at the time was located in Trøndelag, Norway.[30] The presence of American APMs was a hot issue in the process when Norway signed and ratified the Mine Ban Treaty and it remains sensitive today.

Nongovernmental organizations and other critics of the government’s interpretation of the Treaty text in 1997 voiced their concerns through various media, but the government stood firm on their interpretations of the Treaty which, as previously mentioned, allow for American APM storage, transfer and transit to/on Norwegian national territory. The understanding between American Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Knut Vollebæk at the time of the Norwegian ratification was that nothing would happen with the American military stocks for a period of 4 years, starting from the entry into force of the treaty. (This time frame is a reflection of the provision in the Treaty allowing for four years from entry into force of the Treaty – which would be 1 March 2003 – for destruction of existing stockpiles of APMs). In a letter to Secretary Albright, Minister Vollebæk wrote that the United States can transport mines in and out of the storage areas during this period and that Norway will not oppose transit of American mines across Norwegian territory during military operations. Furthermore, Norway will not report on American APMs on Norwegian territory in this period.[31] A permanent solution to the issue of American stocks will have to be finalized no later than year 2003, when American APMs must be gone from Norway. At the present this issue is not being widely discussed in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Defense.[32]

The actual number of APMs to be retained for training purposes in Norwegian military stocks is unknown, but currently there are less than ten APMs in Norwegian stockpile. This number will change over time, as APMs will be imported by the Norwegian Defense Ministry for training purposes. These APMs are for the most part used by the Engineer Regiment for training of demining personnel and dogs and for personnel going abroad on missions. The training APMs are not yet stored in the specific places that are designated for this purpose, but will be located in two military depots, one in the south and one in the north of Norway. These two depots will be available for inspection by anyone who wishes to apply for entrance. Other military storage facilities in Norway are only available for inspection by Norwegian citizens with special permission.[33]


During World War II, the Germans used mines in Norway, especially in the north, but there is no evidence that Norwegian forces used mines in any structured way during that time. There is no evidence or allegations of any other use of APMs in Norway.[34] Norway does not have a landmine problem in terms of mine affected areas that can be a hazard to the civilian population.

Norway reserves the right to use command-detonated mines, which are being altered to ensure that they can be used in command-detonation mode only. Tripwires are removed from all mines, while anti-handling systems for ATMs are used.[35]

Mine Action Funding

In a statement to the United Nations by a Norwegian official in 1998, it was noted that “For more than ten years Norway has been active in mine action activities around the world – both through the UN system and through bilateral programs involving NGOs like Norwegian People’s Aid.”[36] This humanitarian engagement has been supplemented further in the aftermath of the Treaty signing conference in Ottawa. Norway committed to contributing US$120 million over a five-year period to mine action activities.[37] This commitment emphasizes the importance of the humanitarian aspect of the landmine discussion, and is a strong statement of Norway’s the commitment to this issue. Further signals are given in the careful prioritizing on the use of the funds: MFA is trying to channel funds to countries that have serious landmine-problems and at the same time are signatories of the treaty. [38]

In 1998, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs allocated funds for mine action and other mine related activities to various UN offices and programs, WHO, the NATO SFOR mine clearance program, Norwegian Red Cross (which channels money to the ICRC), Norwegian People's Aid (NPA), Organization of American States, and a large number of other actors that received funds in support of landmine-related conferences and seminars in Norway and abroad. In October 1997, Norway donated US$200,000 to the ICBL and its Landmine Monitor initiative.

Overview Of Funds Allocated By The Ministry Of Foreign Affairs To Mine Related Activities, 1994-1998. (in NOK)

Mine Clearance & Surveys
Mine Awareness
Survivor Assistance

Conferences & Information

Source: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Project list, mine related activities 1994-1998.”

In addition, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) provides a smaller amount of funds to mine action activities. The NORAD funds have been channeled through Norwegian People’s Aid, Handicap International and UNDP. Activities include mine clearance, victim assistance and mine awareness programs.

Overview Of Funds Allocated By Norad To Mine-Related Activities In The Time Period 1994-1997 (in NOK million)

1994 0.51

1995 34.5

1996 25.2

1997 40.5[39]

Neither MFA or NORAD have any statistics that identify the specific breakdowns of how money is spent in Norway and abroad of the funds allocated to humanitarian demining. However, for example, when NPA receives funds for projects implemented abroad, the organization usually receives a small amount for administration costs. There is not a separate office in MFA that deals with landmine issues. This means that the funds that are spent on administration domestically remain small.[40] It must be pointed out that MFA can do this because it is not directly involved in project work, but instead channels money through nongovernmental organizations, international organizations and multilateral institutions like the UN.

Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), as the largest Norwegian organization working with mine action, also receives funds for its activities from foreign sources. These include USAID, SIDA, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Austcare, DANIDA, Statoil and WFP.[41]

It is very difficult to calculate in-kind contributions to humanitarian mine action. Neither MFA nor NORAD has any statistics that identify the proportion of in-kind contributions in their assistance.

Mine Clearance

Norway is not considered a mine and UXO affected area. From time to time mines and explosives from World War II are discovered, but this does not represent a great danger to civilians.

As noted in the above section, Norway is a leader in providing support for mine clearance activities in mine-affected countries. The largest NGO humanitarian mine clearance organization in the world, NPA, is supported by the Norwegian government, among others, and carries out mine action programs in various regions of the world.

Mine Awareness Education

There is no need for mine awareness education programs aimed at Norwegians in Norway, as Norway does not have a mine problem. However, Norway sends both civil and military personnel on missions to mine-infested areas, and they need to be trained in mine awareness. This mine awareness education is carried out by the Engineer School, and they have had courses for a variety of groups, including personnel serving for UNIFIL, NORBN, SFOR Bosnia, Macedonia UNPREDEP and CIV POL UN, as well as UN observers.[42]

Norway has a refugee population from all over the world, many of whom wish to return to their home countries, some of which have severe landmine-problems. There is a need for mine awareness education among these refugees to prepare them to return to their home countries. Returnees often face a more difficult situation than the people that stayed during a conflict where landmines were used because they simply do not have any knowledge about where mines were laid, and which areas are safe.

Recognizing this concern, Norwegian People’s Aid in 1996 established a mine awareness project for Bosnian refugees in Norway. To date, this project has reached out to most Bosnian refugees living in Norway (11,370 people) with information about the landmine problem in their home country and with mine awareness education. The project has also reached refugees living in Sweden. Mine awareness lectures are the main element of the educational program, but the project has produced a detailed mine awareness brochure in Bosnian, a teacher’s manual in mine awareness education for Bosnian teachers in Norway and elsewhere, and the plan is to produce a mine awareness instruction film in 1999. In addition, mine awareness articles have been published in the exile-newspaper “Bosanska Posta,” and mine awareness programs have been made for Bosnian radio programs in Norway, reaching Oslo and 12 other municipalities. The project was funded in 1998 with NOK 528,000 from the Department of Immigration.[43]


[1]Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Project list, mine related activities 1994-1998.”

[2]Interview with official at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Oslo, 22 December 1998.

[3]Question in Parliament from Parliamentary Representative Marit Arnstad (Center Party) to Minister of Foreign Affairs Bjørn Tore Godal (Labour Party), 1 February 1995, www.stortinget.no/spti, 15 March 1999.

[4]Minister of Foreign Affairs Bjørn Tore Godal, ”Kampen mot de fæle minene”, Dagbladet, 22 April 1996. (Statement in the daily newspaper Dagbladet.)

[5]Kristian Berg Harpviken, ”Norges minekrav er utilstrekkelig”, Dagbladet, 29 April 1996. (Statement in response to Minister Godal in the daily newspaper Dagbladet.)

[6]Telephone interview and written comments, official at MFA, January 1999.

[7]Beslutning I Odelsting nr. 77 (1997-98), Lov om gjennomføring av Konvensjonen on forbud mot bruk, lagring, produksjon og overføring av antipersonellminer og om ødeleggelse av slike miner, § 5. (Law on the implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and On their Destruction, § 5.)

[8]“Odelstingsproposisjon nr. 72 (1997-98), Om lov om gjennomføring av Konvensjonene on forbud mot bruk, lagring, produksjon of overføring av antipersonnelminer og om ødeleggelse av slike miner (Parliamentary Bill no. 72, About the law on the implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and On their Destruction),” p.10.

[9]Telephone interview with official at the Norwegian Ministry of Defense (MoD), 20 January 1999; telephone interview with official at MFA, January 1999.

[10]Telephone interview and written comments with official at MFA, January 1999.


[12]LM Researcher telephone interview with official at MoD, 27 January 1999; interview with official at the Norwegian Defense High Command, Oslo, 22 January 1999.

[13]Human Rights Watch, “Exposing the Source: U.S. Companies and the Production of Antipersonnel Mines,” (New York: Human Rights Watch).

[14]LM Researcher interview with official at the High Command, Oslo, 22 January 1999.

[15]Nils-Inge Kruhaug, ”Norges store minebløff”, Dagbladet, 28 August 1997.

[16]LM Researcher interview with official at the High Command, Oslo, 22 January 1999.

[17]Nils-Inge Kruhaug, ”Stortinget ført bak lyset”, Dagbladet, 29 August 1997. (Article in the daily newspaper Dagbladet.)

[18]U.S. $1 equals approximately NOK 7.5.

[19]LM Researcher telephone interview with official at the High Command, 12 March 1999.

[20]LM Researcher telephone interviews with official at MoD, 20 January and 27 January 1999.

[21]International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Statement to the Closing Plenary of the Oslo Diplomatic Conference on a Treaty to Ban Antipersonnel Landmines, 18 September 1997.

[22]LM Researcher telephone interview with official at MoD, 20 January 1999.

[23]LM Researcher Telephone interview with official at MoD, 27 January 1999; interview with official at the High Command, Oslo, 22 January 1999.

[24]LM Researcher interview with official at the High Command, Oslo, 22 January 1999.

[25]Odelstingsproposisjon no. 72 (1997-1998), p. 3-4. (Parliamentary Bill no. 72.)

[26]For more information, see Olav Riste, ”Isolasjonisme og Stormaktsgarantiar: Norsk Tryggingspolitikk 1905 –1990”, Forsvarsstudier 3/1991.

[27]LM Researcher interview with official at the High Command, Oslo, 22 January 1999.

[28]LM Researcher telephone interveiw with official at the High Command, 27 January 1999.

[29]LM Researcher telephone interview with official at MoD, 20 and 27 January 1999.

[30]Nils-Inge Kruhaug, ”Her er USAs minelagre”, Dagbladet, 13 September 1997.

[31]Letter from Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vollebæk to United States Secretary of State Albright, 20 May 1998.

[32]LM Researcher telephone interview with official at MoD, 20 January 1999; Interview with official at MFA, 22 December 1998.

[33]LM Researcher telephone interviews with official at the High Command, 27 January and 12 March 1999.

[34]LM Researcher telephone interview with official at the High Command., 12 March 1999.

[35]LM Researcher interview with offical at the High Command, Oslo, 22 January 1999.

[36]Janne Haaland Matlary. Statement to the United Nations, New York, 17 November 1998.

[37]Letter from Minister of Foreign Affairs Vollebæk to Norwegian People’s Aid, Oslo, 6 July 1998.

[38]LM Researcher interview with official at MFA, Oslo, 22 December 1998.

[39]NORAD. “Assistance to mine clearance and mine related projects in the years 1994-97 via NORAD.”

[40]LM Researcher telephone interview and written comments with official at MFA, January 1999.

[41]Handicap International, Mines Advisory Group and Norwegian People’s Aid, “Portfolio of Mine-related Projects 1998.”

[42]LM Researcher interview with official at the High Command, Oslo, 22 January 1999

[43]LM Researcher interview with Emil Jeremic, Norwegian People’s Aid, Oslo, 15 December 1998.