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

4
ICRC Position Paper No. 4
ICRC Briefing and Position Paper
December 1997

Landmines:
Crucial Decisions in 1997

Decisions made in 1997 on how to build on the momentum for a ban on antipersonnel landmines will decide the fate oftens of thousands of innocent civilians in the coming years. Potential victims include children whose limbs may be torn apart by mines laid in 1997, families which will go hungry unless their land is cleared, and young men and women who have already lost limbs and whose hope for a brighter future is contingent upon access to rehabilitative care.

Whether, and for how long, the carnage caused by landmines continues will depend on the priority which governments, the media and the public give in 1997 to taking dramatic action to end this crisis in countries around the world.

In October 1996,50 States met in Ottawa and pledged to work together, regionally and globally, for a total ban on anti-personnel mines and to increase by a significant amount the resources available for mine clearance and assistance to victims. This has provided a unique opportunity to adopt far-reaching measures in 1997, including a legal ban on these pernicious weapons.

At the UN General Assembly last December, 155 countries supported a call for a new treaty completely outlawing these weapons (resolution A/51/45 S). None voted against. The Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs has invited States back to Ottawa in December 1997 to sign such a treaty. Several governments are planning to host conferences with a view to accelerating mine clearance, improving assistance for victims and negotiating a ban. Countries in Central America will begin implementing plans for the world's first regional zone free of anti-personnel mines.

In 1997, work to end the landmines crisis will shift away from negotiations aimed at reaching a consensus, which would tend to reflect the lowest common denominator, and focus instead on making rapid and clear progress under the

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