Africa: Landmines Treaty Update, 11 Dec 1998

Africa: Landmines Treaty Update, 11 Dec 1998

Africa: Landmines Treaty Update Date distributed (ymd): 981211 Document reposted by APIC

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Region: Continent-Wide Issue Areas: +security/peace+ Summary Contents: This posting contains an update from Mines Action Canada on the Landmines Ban Treaty. It also serves to introduce a new e-mail list service provided by Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), a coalition of more than 100 Canadian and African non- governmental organizations. PAC's free service of occasional documents is provided both in English and in French. One must subscribe to the English and French versions separately (see instructions below). Depending on availability of translations, documents may appear in either French or English or in both. Some of PAC's postings may overlap with postings by APIC, but others will not. For more information contact Partnership Africa Canada (

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Partnership Africa Canada

The Landmines Ban Treaty: Year Zero

December 10, 1998

The Landmines Ban Treaty was signed in Ottawa a year ago. Mines Action Canada (MAC) is a key member organization of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. In this document, MAC analyses how far the campaign has gone during the Treaty's first year.

Further information can be found at the following web sites:

Mines Action Canada:

Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada:

Africa Policy Information Center: ________________________________________________

The Landmines Ban Treaty: Year Zero

The "Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction" - the Landmines Ban Treaty - was opened for signature on 3 December 1997. The treaty will not become international law until 1 March 1999. Nevertheless, the Landmines Ban Treaty has not been idle in its "year zero" and its progress in this year can be assessed.

1 Monitoring and Evaluating Compliance

Currently no one has all the information necessary to measure, on a global level, state compliance with the standards set by the treaty, let alone the information to measure how successful we have been in using the treaty to address the problems caused by mines. With the help of a lot of people around the world, however, this information will become available. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) has begun to establish a civil-society based monitoring system called Landmine Monitor. Landmine Monitor's job will be to provide people with the tools they need to put 'people's power' behind the treaty. In effect, organised civil society will become the new superpower enforcing this "People's Treaty." The first Landmine Monitor annual report is due out in the first half of 1999.

2 Universalising the Ban

133 states have signed the treaty by its first anniversary. At least fifty-two states have gone one step further and officially ratified it. This is remarkably fast considering that the ratification process requires states to do a fair amount of 'house-keeping,' including making sure domestic legislation complies with the treaty and taking stock of the resources necessary to comply with its terms. Following standard practice in international law, it was stipulated that the treaty would enter into force six months after forty countries ratified it. The first forty ratifications were achieved in a record-setting nine months.

Countries which have signed and ratified the treaty are geographically, politically and economically diverse. In the Americas, only the US and Cuba have not signed on. Forty-two of the 53 African states, 35 of the 44 European, and 9 of the 13 Ocean states have signed on. The ban has not made great headway with states in Asia, however: in that region, only 14 of the 45 states have signed. All of NATO except the US and Turkey have signed. Eleven of APEC's 18 members have signed.

Among countries which have already ratified can be found former major producers and exporters of mines such as France, Germany, Hungary and the UK, as well as countries affected by mines such as Bosnia, Mozambique, Peru, and Jordan.

Not only states use and produce mines. Private companies use them around their installations, individuals use them to protect their land, and armed political movements (known as "non-state actors") use them in many countries. Recently, a number of non-state actors have banned the use of mines, including the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

3 Setting Standards

The treaty has four main provisions: a ban on the use, production, and export of mines; destruction of stockpiles; mine clearance in areas under domestic control; assistance for humanitarian mine clearance; and assistance for care, rehabilitation and reintegration of mine victims. It is not too early to assess how far international standards on each of these fronts have been advanced by the treaty. And although the treaty has not yet become international law, signatories in particular have expressed a commitment to which they can be held accountable. The following examples give an indication of the choices that are being made by different actors in Canada and around the world in response to the ban treaty. They can guide efforts to realise an effective ban on landmines.

3.1 Ban on use, production and export

Article 1

Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances: a) to use anti-personnel mines; b) to develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, anti-personnel mines; c) to assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.

* In the third quarter of 1998, the ICBL was deeply disturbed to hear reports of renewed or continued use of mines in a number of signatory states, including Angola, Cambodia, the Peru-Ecuador border region, Senegal and Sudan. Mine use was also reported in Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Kosovo (Serbia), and Sri Lanka.

* It is disturbing that manufacturers in signatory states are developing weapons that skirt the definition in the treaty. The press recently published the news that Japan is developing a new remote controlled mine generation. An obvious attempt to bypass the Ottawa Treaty, the mines are fitted with sensors which detect the approach of a person and then send a secret radio signal to headquarters where a soldier decides whether or not to detonate the mine.

* Production of anti-personnel mines is now illegal in Canada. It is not known, however, if parts produced in Canada are used in the production of mines abroad. World wide, 20 states which have not signed the treaty are known to still produce anti-personnel mines. Although the US has not signed, American citizens have mobilised to stop production, organising frequent protests outside Alliant Techsystems, one of the Pentagon's major mine suppliers. Through their efforts, 19 manufacturers in the US have agreed not to produce mines or parts; others, including General Electric, continue to refuse.

* There are virtually no officially acknowledged exports of anti-personnel mines in the world today. Most states which continue to produce mines, such as Russia, China, Pakistan, South Korea, Turkey and the US, have moratoria on their export, though practice is different from what is legally permitted. Iran, Iraq, Serbia, and Vietnam are thought to be the only producers without an export moratorium. Among signatories, it is unfortunate that some NATO allies, including Canada, are yielding to American pressure and interpreting the treaty's prohibition on transfer not to include 'transit' of American mines through a country.

3.2 Destruction of Stockpiles

Article 4

... each State Party undertakes to destroy or ensure the destruction of all stockpiled anti-personnel mines it owns or possesses, or that are under its jurisdiction or control, as soon as possible but not later than four years after the entry into force of this Convention for that State Party.

Although states are given four years to destroy stocks of anti-personnel mines, destruction is already underway. Canada destroyed all its treaty-definition mines in 1997. However, it continues to hold anti-vehicle mines, which are not prohibited by the treaty. Germany reportedly destroyed 1.7 million in January 1998; the UK destroyed a token number in June 1998, and promised to finish destruction of its stocks by 2000.

3.3 Demining land under domestic control

Article 5

Each State Party undertakes to destroy or ensure the destruction of all anti-personnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control, as soon as possible but not later than ten years after the entry into force of this Convention for that State Party.

Although demining is underway in many countries in the world, the effect of the treaty on these initiatives is not yet clear.

3.4 Assistance to demining and mine victims

Article 6

Each State Party in a position to do so shall provide assistance for the care and rehabilitation, and social and economic reintegration, of mine victims and for mine awareness programs. ... Each State Party in a position to do so shall provide assistance for mine clearance and related activities.

Around the world, millions of dollars have been pledged over the past year for this work. Canada, for example, pledged $100 million over five years last December for treaty implementation, including assistance for demining and mine victims. Globally, some of this money is being used to clear mines and support people who have been affected by mines. However, there are widespread concerns in the ICBL that the money pledged globally pales in comparison to the size of the problem, and that only a small proportion of what has been pledged is finding its way to community-based humanitarian demining and victim assistance. Some non-profit agencies are reporting that funding for community-based mine clearance is actually weaker than it has been in previous years. Lack of transparency on the part of governments makes it difficult to know where the money is going and to assess how usefully it is being spent. It is thought that a high ratio around the world (17% in Canada) is being channeled into research and development of new 'mine action' technologies. Ideally, this spending would result in appropriate and effective demining tools which would improve capacity to clear mines at the local level. However, some of the research that is being funded under the flag of 'mine action' may have more relevance to military operations than humanitarian demining. In some cases, such spending amounts to little more than a subsidy to the domestic military-industrial complex. In Canada, there are indications that some of the money allocated for treaty implementation is being considered for the promotion and development of military replacements for anti-personnel mines. Mines Action Canada strongly opposes such a use of the Canadian Landmines Fund.

4 Addressing the problem

It is difficult to formulate a clear picture of the impact of the treaty on the problems caused by mines so far. Ultimately, its success will be measured in terms of numbers of victims and of acres of safe land returned to people's use. Already there are good news reports, such as a Red Cross report that the number of mine casualties in Cambodia decreased by 13 percent (to 973 people) between January and September this year compared to the same period last year.

Cambodia is estimating that it will take around 30 years to make all productive land safe for use; this is down from the 100 years estimated a few years ago. Afghanistan is estimating that it will take about ten or eleven years to clear all high priority areas in the country at current levels of funding. Whether levels of funding increase or decrease, and whether the land that is cleared ultimately ends up the hands of people who need it remains a matter of political choice.

Certain parts of the problem, such as anti-vehicle mines and mine-like bomblets ("cluster bombs"), have remained to some extent outside the reach of the treaty, focussed as it is on anti-personnel mines. However, the increased attention to cluster bomb infestation in Laos is no doubt partly due to the landmine ban.

For more information, contact: Mines Action Canada, 1 Nicholas Street, Suite 1210, Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 7B7, Canada. Tel:(613) 241 3777 Fax:(613) 244 3410 E-mail: Web site: ____________________________________________

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Message-Id: <> From: Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 10:20:36 -0500 Subject: Africa: Landmines Treaty Update

Editor: Ali B. Dinar,