Fourteen years after its adoption, preparations began for the First Review Conference of the 1980 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) and, in particular, its Protocol II on Landmines. Governments approached the subject matter warily. At the very outset, few proposals for amendments were made – and they were modest at best. Generally, governments considered the Protocol a good treaty text. The problem was rather insufficient adherence and lack of implementation. Not until the third meeting of the preparatory Group of Governmental Experts did one country (Sweden) formally submit a proposal for a ban on the use of anti-personnel mines.
However, the cumbersome diplomatic process, based on universality and consensus, set in motion a chain reaction that was difficult to foresee. It created the ideal focal point for the international efforts to ban landmines. The haggling over seemingly unimportant details and procedure in comfortable Geneva, on one hand, and the nameless suffering of children, women and men torn to pieces by the hidden killers in the rice paddies of Cambodia, the valleys of Afghanistan or the fields of Angola, on the other – this contrast was too stark, too brutal not to bring home the message to millions around the globe that anti-personnel mines represent an evil that must be stopped.
The complications of the review process grew. Some mine-using and mine-producing countries stiffened their resolve to make only concessions that would be compatible with continued routine use of anti-personnel mines, at least in international conflicts. Changing instructions to other delegations, however, went in the opposite direction; the number of countries supporting a total ban was steadily growing. A fourth meeting of the preparatory Group had to be added in January 1995. Its final – and still heavily bracketed report – was adopted, thanks to exhaustion, only at 5 a.m. on a bleak Geneva Saturday morning.