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
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12
Debate on Landmines at the Angolan Parliament
Luanda, Angola
23 May 1997
Organized in collaboration with the ICRC and UNICEF

Despite Angola being one of the world's most mine-affected countries, the debate in the Angolan Parliament demonstrated that not everyone was aware of the sheer scale and extent of the mines problem in the country. The debate was critical in ensuring that all parties were aware of the acute need to tackle the mines problem and to make certain that no more mines were laid in the country.


Statement on International Political and Legal Efforts on Anti-personnel
Landmines
Peter Herby, Legal Division, International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva
23 May 1997

In 1918 the international community was horrified at the appalling effects of the widespread use of poison gas in the trenches and battlefields of Europe. The public and many political leaders were sickened at the sight oftens of thousands of soldiers gasping for breath, blinded, burned and vomiting blood as they returned from battle. Many thousands more died an agonizing death in the trenches. As a result, the use of chemical and biological weapons was stigmatized. Norms which had existed in ancient cultures and various religious traditions against the use of poison as a method of war were codified in the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibiting gas warfare.

In the 1990s the same process of stigmatization is occurring in response to the horrendous effects of anti-personnel landmines. The distinguished Ministers who have spoken today have amply described the appalling human, economic and social costs of the use of this weapon in Angola. The experience of Angola, which the ICRC has witnessed first-hand through its delegates and medical staff in this country, should alone be sufficient to trigger an international response.

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