During the negotiation of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, relatively little attention was paid to the question of mines, as the international community concentrated their efforts on trying to control incendiary weapons. By the beginning of the 1990s, however, it was clear that the use of landmines, especially anti-personnel mines, was escalating dramatically and was causing a major humanitarian crisis. The alarm was first sounded by surgeons of the ICRC and the staff of non-governmental organizations working in war-torn areas. Their call for action to end the increasing number of civilian casualties led to the convening of the Montreux Symposium in 1993. Later that same year, France called formally for the first Review Conference of the 1980 Convention, in particular to study the possibility of strengthening the provisions of international humanitarian law governing landmines.
In accordance with a request from States Parties, a series of three meetings of a group of governmental experts to prepare proposals for the Review Conference was scheduled to take place in Geneva from early 1994. In February 1994, just before the first of these meetings, the President of the ICRC, Cornelio Sommaruga, declared that a total prohibition on anti- personnel mines was the only effective solution to the humanitarian emergency created by landmines. At that time, few believed that such a measure was feasible.
States Parties also invited the ICRC to take part as an expert observer, both in meetings of the group of experts and in the Review Conference itself, and to prepare documentation and proposals for these meetings on the basis of its field experience and expertise in the sphere of international humanitarian law. The ICRC submitted the reports included below and played an active role in the negotiating process, commenting both formally and informally on the issues and proposals which emerged. The ICRC was also permitted to submit its own proposals.