Commission signs protocol on landmines
Brussels, 17 July 2000
Today, the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), Belgium, Canada, The Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States will sign a memorandum of understanding on the International Test and Evaluation Programme for Humanitarian Demining (ITEP). The aim of this programme is to create a network of research centres dealing with demining technologies. These centres will conduct tests on the reliability and the performance of demining equipment for all interested states. Moreover, it is foreseen to train staff involved in demining and to advise states wanting to purchase better, safer and more cost-efficient demining equipment. Philippe Busquin, commissioner in charge of the JRC says: "I am deeply worried by the global scope of the landmine problem and therefore welcome that some of the most affected countries, namely Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Cambodia and Mozambique have already approached the JRC wanting to become partners in the initiative."
The decision on the European Union's framework programme for research(1) foresees that the JRC undertakes action in the field of artificial risks created by mankind and contributes to civil demining action through a network of public and private research centres. This network is now set up with support from the United Nations and in collaboration with several countries, especially the United States. The ITEP programme is open to all countries wanting to join the demining action. The role of the JRC is that of a technical and administrative secretariat. Furthermore, the ITEP Memorandum of Understanding is the object of a decision of the European Commission entering into force with its signature today. The document is signed today at the Belgian Royal Military Academy (30, Rue de la Renaissance, Brussels), 13h00 in the presence of the Belgian defence minister, André Flahaut, and representatives from the other parties. A press conference will take place at 15h00.
The entry into force of the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and their Destruction in 1998 launched the challenge overcoming the landmine problem in the next 10-15 years. Subsequently, the Washington conference on Humanitarian Demining took place in May 1998. At this conference, the European Commission and the United States, supported by the United Nations, announced their readiness to create a research network for demining tools. The signature of the Memorandum of Understanding on the ITEP programme is the first concrete step in the effort of solving technical problems through internantional collaboration in the field of research.
(1) OJ L 64 of 12.3.1999