The Banning of Anti-Personnel Landmines: The Legal Contribution of the International Committee of the Red Cross

By Louis Maresca; Stuart Maslen | Go to book overview

18
ICRC Position Paper No. 3
ICRC Briefing and Position Paper
July 1996

Stopping the Landmines Epidemic:
From Negotiation to Action

Since international negotiations for new restrictions on the use of landmines began in March 1994, some 56,000 persons, mainly civilians, are estimated to have been killed or maimed by these indiscriminate weapons. By the time the existing international treaty concerning the use of landmines is again reviewed in the year 2001, mines may have shattered another 120,000 lives unless far more dramatic steps than those required by the law are taken by States and the international community. Before the recently adopted legal rules take full effect around 2007, the toll could exceed 200,000. Such levels of preventable death and injury are morally unconscionable and can be stopped.

Fortunately, we may already be witnessing the beginning of the end of the use of anti-personnel landmines worldwide. In face of growing public abhorrence antipersonnel mines are well on the way to being stigmatized in the public conscience, as was poison gas after World War I.

A recent opinion poll conducted in 21 countries reflected large majorities aware of the landmine crisis and in favour of a ban on these weapons. Twenty-five States have renounced or suspended the use of antipersonnel mines by their own armed forces; more than 20 have prohibited production; 11 are destroying their stockpiles and more than 50 have halted exports. These unilateral measures reflect a growing awareness of the urgent need for dramatic steps to end the landmine crisis and the growing momentum of efforts to achieve a global ban. Over time these steps will save lives.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), along with the entire Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, is fully committed to continuing its

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