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

FOREWORD BY AMBASSADOR JACOB S. SELEBI
SOUTH AFRICA

Throughout the turbulent times of our recent history, the International Committee of the Red Cross has persistently and unstintingly focused the attention of the world on the devastation caused by war on innocent people and sought to strengthen the rules and principles of international humanitarian law, in order to save lives and alleviate suffering caused during and after armed conflict.

The ICRC was amongst the first campaigners to address the horrifying civilian casualties caused by anti-personnel mines long after conflicts have ended. On the African continent, which is particularly affected by this landmine scourge, these mines remain hidden to prey on those who venture out to seek firewood or to fetch water for the family, or dare to hunt or to plough the fields. These deadly killers lay to waste economic infrastructure and stifle socio-economic development.

Governments have for too long argued that anti-personnel mines are a necessary instrument of war. Nations have acquired large quantities of these mines in the misguided beliefthat such weapons will give them security.

The sustained efforts by the ICRC, amongst others, to raise awareness of the effect such mines have on civilians, prompted States to recognize that the right of parties to an armed con flict to choose methods of warfare is not unlimited. From this beliefwas born the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (CCW). As an instrument of international humanitarian law, the objective of this Convention is to save lives and alleviate suffering during armed conflict. However, realizing that the only lasting solution to the anti-personnel mine problem is the banning of such mines, and mindful of the limitations of the CCW to achieve this goal, the Ottawa process was initiated. This process built momentum towards the conclusion of a legally binding international agreement, complementary to the CCW, to ban anti-personnel mines.

The Ottawa process stemmed from the recognition that the extreme

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