International Meeting of Experts on the Possible
Verification of a Comprehensive International Treaty
Prohibiting Anti-Personnel Landmines
24–25 April 1997
Organized by the German government
A number of States were concerned that the simple prohibition of antipersonnel mines, without a well-developed mechanism to ensure its respect, would not be effective. The German government, which had expressed a particular interest in the verification of any anti-personnelmine ban convention, offered to host a meeting of interested States to discuss the subject. A total of 121 States, more than had attended Vienna Expert Meeting, participated in the Bonn Verification Meeting, an indication not only of the importance attached to verification, but also of the growing momentum of the Ottawa process.
The ICRC reiterated its view that verification was important, but cautioned against the adoption of a mechanism purely designed to detect violations, reminding States that humanitarian law possessed a potent weapon against individuals in the form of compulsory universal jurisdiction, which was intended to ensure that violators would ultimately have no safe haven from prosecution. The ICRC again stressed the overriding importance of establishing a clear norm prohibiting anti-personnel mines since, historically, complete prohibitions on the use of specific weapons had been very largely respected.
The meeting as a whole was inconclusive, reflecting the divide between those who favoured more of a disarmament approach demanding extensive verification, and those who placed the emphasis on traditional humanitarian law mechanisms intended to ensure compliance with specific norms.