Some 60 countries commit to cutting armed violence
Sixty countries, including Brazil, Britain and Australia, signed up on Wednesday to a series of commitments to cut and prevent armed violence, which kills more than 2,000 people a day.
"By these commitments, governments take a much greater direct involvement in the broad spectrum of initiatives to combat armed violence. This is an important deliverable of this meeting," Jonas Gahr Store, Norwegian Foreign Minister, told AFP.
The so-called Oslo Commitments on Armed Violence were initiated by Norway and the United Nations Development Programme at a meeting with supporting states in Geneva Wednesday.
The non-binding agreement commits countries to monitor the impact of armed violence and recognise the rights of victims of armed violence to obtain care and rehabilitation.
It also requires states to make armed violence prevention strategies at the international, regional and national level.
Store said the commitments were important because they were "part of a broader chain of disarmament with a humanitarian motivation."
"We had a process to ban anti-personnel landmines. We had a process to ban cluster munitions. They were easy to identify, armed violence is a broader concept.
"But in all three dimensions, the normative function is important -- that we create norms and standards," he said.
Although the United States attended Wednesday's meeting, it was present only as an observer and did not endorse the commitments.
Russia and China were not present.
Store pointed out that the anti-personnel landmines and cluster bombs treaties were often criticised for not having the support of large countries.
However, the fact that more than 100 countries have signed up to those treaties was enough to create norms, he said.
"So a whole market for these products has taken quite a different direction -- trade in these products has gone down significantly," he said.
"While we would wish to have all the big states in, the fact that they are not in should not dissuade us from going forward, because gradually they may consider coming on board."
© 2010 AFP