CCW Negotiators Make Headway on Strengthening of Landmine Protocol
Walkling, Sarah, Arms Control Today
NEGOTIATORS AT a January 15-19 expert-level meeting in Geneva came closer to resolving their differences over how to strengthen the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) protocol limiting anti-personnel landmine use. The meeting, which focused on military and technical issues, was intended to lay the groundwork for the reconvening of the CCW review conference in Geneva on April 22. The first review conference collapsed last October after China, Russia, India and Pakistan opposed suggested limits on landmine use and proposals to make landmines more detectable and limit further their battlefield life. (See ACT, November 1995.)
Although last year's review conference failed to adopt a single change to the CCW's landmine protocol (all conference decisions must be approved by consensus), a majority of states nevertheless did support a package of tougher restrictions. These included requiring that remotely delivered anti-personnel mines (such as those dropped from aircraft) self-destruct 30 days after dispersal and deactivate within 120 days after emplacement should the selfdestruct feature fail; that all other mines be planted in controlled, marked and monitored areas; and that all mines contain a minimum of 8 grams of iron (or another equally detectable metal) to aid detection.
During the January Geneva meeting, which was attended by representatives from 76 countries, Russia, India and Pakistan reportedly dropped most of their earlier opposition to the self-destruct, self-deactivation proposal. Moscow, however, continued its call for a 15-year transition period before the requirement would go into effect. While Pakistan also supported a lengthy transition period, Islamabad informally indicated it might accept an eightyear wait. India appeared willing to accept an eight-year transition period for implementation of the detectability requirement rather than the indefinite period it supported at the October review conference. All 76 countries also reportedly agreed to support a complete ban on mines that destruct upon detection. While no country is believed to be building such mines, this move reflects concern that such technology would pose a grave threat to demining personnel, who generally locate mines using hand-held metal detectors. …