The International Strategy Conference
Towards a Global Ban on Anti-personnel Mines
3–5 October 1996
The Canadian-sponsored conference of 50 pro-ban States was the first time that the key actors within the international community – States, international organizations and non-governmental organizations – had come together formally to elaborate a strategy towards achieving a total global ban on anti-personnel mines. In his address to the conference, ICRC President Cornelio Sommaruga recalled the success of the Managua Regional Conference held in May 1996, which had led to a formal call within the Organization of American States for the Americas to become a zone free of anti-personnel mines. He therefore stressed the importance of promoting regional initiatives rather than initiating new consensusseeking negotiations at the international level. President Sommaruga also reiterated that anti-personnel mines were inherently indiscriminate and questioned whether the injuries the weapons inflicted – by design – were not superfluous and excessive to the military need.
The Conference adopted a Declaration and Plan of Action and many practical commitments were made by participants. Canadian Foreign Minister Axworthy's dramatic invitation to States to return to Ottawa before the end of 1997 to sign a total ban treaty, however, inevitably attracted the greatest media attention. In the words of President Sommaruga, welcoming the Canadian Foreign Minister's initiative, 'The results of this conference signal the beginning of the end of the global epidemic of anti-personnel landmines.'