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

13
International Conference for a Global Ban on
Anti-personnel Landmines
Brussels, Belgium
24–27 June 1997
Organized by the government of Belgium

The Brussels Conference, which was the official follow-up to the 1996 Ottawa Conference, was designed to ensure that those negotiating the treaty were all formally committed to achieving a total ban treaty. For this reason, governments that wanted a seat at the negotiating table at the forthcoming Diplomatic Conference in Oslo were asked to adhere to the 'Brussels Declaration'. By the end of the Conference, 97 governments had done so, prompting ICRC President Cornelio Sommaruga to remark that: 'The Brussels Conference has demonstrated that the momentum towards a ban of this pernicious weapon is now irreversible.'

In his address to one of the Conference's round-tables, President Sommaruga outlined what the ICRC considered to be the five key elements in the treaty to be concluded: (a) an unambiguous definition of an antipersonnel mine, (b) an absolute prohibition on production, transfer and use, valid from the entry into force of the treaty, (c) the destruction of stockpiles and emplaced mines in the shortest possible time, (d) positive provisions for technical assistance in implementation of the treaty and (e) penal sanctions to punish serious violations of the treaty. He added that the treaty should neither permit reservations nor allow for withdrawal while a party is engaged in armed conflict. It is pleasing to note that all these elements were ultimately included in the Ottawa treaty.


Humanitarian Aspects – an Integrated and Coordinated Approach
Statement of Cornelio Sommaruga, President, ICRC, Geneva
26 June 1997

It is a privilege to join you in Brussels on this solemn occasion on which States from around the globe will announce their intention to negotiate a comprehensive ban

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