December 29, 2008
Contact: Jeff Abramson, Research Analyst (202) 463-8270 x 109
(Washington, D.C.) Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and his ministry's Director-General for Security Policy and the High North Steffen Kongstad garnered the highest number of votes in an online poll to determine the "2008 Arms Control Person of the Year." Nine other individuals and institutions were nominated by the Arms Control Association.
Dissatisfied with the pace of global efforts to control the use of cluster munitions, Støre announced in 2006 that his country would convene an effort to create an international ban on the weapons. The Oslo process led to the negotiation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which 94 countries signed in December 2008. Kongstad led Norway's crossdepartmental effort and was added as an award recipient after many voters wrote in his name.
"The Convention on Cluster Munitions is the most important new humanitarian arms control treaty of the still-young century and Norway's Støre and Kongstad deserve great praise for their leadership," said Jeff Abramson, conventional weapons analyst with the Arms Control Association.
"Working with other countries and a dedicated coalition of civil society leaders and cluster munitions survivors, their actions spurred meaningful progress to bar indiscriminate weapons that have killed or maimed tens of thousands of noncombatants," Abramson added.
Cluster munitions are bombs, rockets and artillery shells that release smaller submunitions over a broad area, often injuring civilians during conflict or afterwards when initially unexploded devices later detonate when disturbed. For more information on cluster munitions and the Convention on Cluster Munitions see http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2008_12/CCM
"The purpose of the 'Arms Control Person of the Year' poll is to highlight the positive contributions of key figures around the globe in reducing the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.
Other top vote-getters were the lead U.S. negotiator dealing with North Korea and a group of four former U.S. officials who have called for progress on moving toward a nuclear weapons free world.
Christopher Hill, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, was nominated "for persistently maintaining a difficult dialogue with North Korea on steps leading to its eventual denuclearization, potentially preventing the resumption of its plutonium production for nuclear weapons."
Former Secretaries of State George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, and former Sen. Sam Nunn were included "for their catalytic January 2007 and 2008 op-eds in The Wall Street Journal
calling for renewed U.S. leadership on practical steps 'toward a world free of nuclear weapons.'"
The online poll was open between Dec. 16-28, 2008. For the list of all 2008 nominees, see http://www.armscontrol.org/2008personofyear