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Landmines campaign urges full universalization & implementation, condemns mine users on second anniversary of Ban Treaty signing

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The Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) today commemorated the second anniversary of the opening for signature of the landmine ban treaty with events around the world. "The past two years have demonstrated that a new standard of behavior is being established, completely rejecting antipersonnel mines. Those who won't sign the ban treaty should be stigmatized; those who continue to use this indiscriminate weapon should be ostracized," said Elizabeth Bernstein, Coordinator of the ICBL.

The ICBL calls on all governments to accede to or ratify the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and to implement it fully by assisting victims of landmines, removing mines already laid, destroying stockpiled mines, and never again using, producing or exporting this perverse weapon. "It is fitting that the ban treaty was opened for signature on December 3rd, as this is the International Day for Disabled Persons and this treaty is about assisting people around the world whose lives are ruined daily by mines," said Ms. Bernstein.

To date 136 nations have signed the treaty and 89 have ratified, astonishingly high numbers in such a short period of time. Recent ratifications include Argentina, Cambodia, Chad, Czech Republic, Tajikistan and Tunisia. The ban treaty entered into force on 1 March 1999 with its fortieth ratification, thus becoming binding international law more quickly than any major treaty ever. The ICBL has set a target of no less than 100 ratifications by 1 March 2000.

Over the past year, the ICBL has condemned continued use of antipersonnel mines by a number of countries, including ban treaty signatory Angola. Both the Angolan government and UNITA rebels are increasingly using mines as their conflict escalates. The campaign has also singled out Russia for using air-dropped mines in its recent conflicts and Yugoslavia for extensive use of mines in Kosovo, and raised concern over the use of weapons by NATO member states that may have similar effects to antipersonnel mines.

"Despite instances of continued use, overall we have seen a distinct decrease in use, production, transfer and stockpiling of antipersonnel mines as the global norm begins to take effect," said Ms. Bernstein.

According to the ICBL's Landmine Monitor initiative:

  • the number of mine victims in high-risk places such as Afghanistan, Cambodia and Mozambique has decreased significantly;
  • more than 12 million stockpiled antipersonnel mines have been destroyed in recent years, though a staggering 250 million remain in stocks;
  • at least 38 countries have halted production of AP mines, while a further 16 refuse to stop, including China, Russia and the USA;
  • there have been no significant exports of AP mines by any nation in recent years;
  • significant funds have been pledged for mine action and a number of new initiatives are underway, but the ICBL remains concerned that too few funds are actually reaching the field.
The ICBL created the ground-breaking Landmine Monitor to ensure that governments are held accountable to their commitments under the ban treaty. It is the first time that civil society elements are in a systematic, coordinated way monitoring and reporting on compliance with a humanitarian law or disarmament treaty. The ICBL released the 1,100-page Landmine Monitor Report 1999: Toward a Mine-Free World at the First Meeting of States Parties to the treaty in Mozambique in May 1999.

Landmine Monitor's Online Database was launched on the web today. This comprehensive Database contains information on landmine in every country of the world - 201 entries in total. Access the Database at http://www.lm-online.org
If there is any interruption, go to http://209.217.125.32

This anniversary is being celebrated with activities around the world in countries including Angola, Australia, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Nepal, South Korea, Sweden, Ukraine and the United States. For a full listing of the events see the attached "Activities Around the Globe on the Second Anniversary of the Opening for Signature of the 1997 Landmines Convention and International Day for Disabled Persons"

For more information, please go to http://www.icbl.org
Or contact Mary Wareham, Human Rights Watch +1 (202) 612-4356 or email wareham@hrw.org

Activities Around the Globe on the Second Anniversary of the Opening for Signature of the 1997 Landmines Convention and International Day for Disabled Persons

Angola:

Ceremony with theater, short films and music and a basketball match between two disabled teams, organized by the Angolan Campaign to Ban Landmines, the Angolan Federation of Disabled People and UNICEF.

Australia:

Australia Network of the ICBL Press Release.

Belgium:

Press Release by Handicap International.

Cambodia:

Visit of Sok Eng and Song Kosal to Japan; seminar with CMAC and government representatives on Landmine Monitor data; distribution of brochures with update of mine incidents in Khmer; newspaper article on landmine museum in Siem Reap all organized by Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines.

Canada:

A two day public interactive mine action exhibition to attract the public to see and meet those working on the landmines issue, and press events. Organized by Mines Action Canada in conjunction with the Canadian Red Cross and the Mine Action team of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Egypt:

Seminar on Landmines in Cairo at the Journalists Association with screening of ICRC film on the Treaty in Arabic organized by Landmines Struggle Center, ICRC-Cairo and the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.

Germany:

The German Campaign to Ban Landmines will hold a press conference and an advocacy dialogue with German parlamentarians regarding the progress of banning landmines and the progress of mine victim assistance.

France:

Press Release by Handicap International.

Italy:

The Italian Campaign to Ban landmines will launch the Italian andmine Monitor report, edited into book form, dedicated to Paola Biocca, Italian Campaign co-founder who died in the recent World Food Programme airplane crash in Kosovo.

Japan:

Visit of Cambodian survivor and youth ambassador Song Kosal. Letters will be sent to Prime Minister Obuchi and government officers. Launch of a postcard campaign asking Japanese citizens to send cards to the Tokyo embassies of the countries which have not signed or ratified the treaty. Special issue of newsletter.

Nepal:

Programs to hand over letters to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to the ambassadors and media release by the Nepal Campaign.

South Korea:

Special exhibition on landmines and the ban movement by the Korean Campaign to Ban Landmines.

Sweden:

Campaigners will meet the Finnish ambassador in Stockholm to hand
over petitions collected in Sweden to urge Finland to sign the treaty and to discuss Finland's mine policy. Press release. Organized by Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society.

Switzerland:

Participation in popular run "la course de l'escalade" of Chris Moon, a British deminer who lost his hand and his leg to a mine and since has competed in marathons around, and campaign awareness-raising activities by the Swiss Campaign.

Ukraine:

UN/UNDP /Ukraine - Ukraine Campaign joint landmine conference and press conference in Kiev with presentation of Landmine Monitor.

USA:

- USCBL Press Release.

- Boston: U.S.-Russia Special Hockey Match, on 4 Dec. All members of the Russian team are landmine survivors - amputees from wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya. To raise funds for completion of the International Prosthetic Rehabilitation Center for Children Landmine Victims in St. Petersburg, Russia.

- New York: Conference entitled "Landmines: How Global is the Ban" on December 2nd organized by Columbia University, the Canadian Consulate General and the Canadian Permanent Mission to the UN.

- Singer-Songwriter Concert Series 1-5 December by Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation

Cyberspace/globally: the Landmine Monitor database will be launched online on the web and can be accessed at http://www.lm-online.org

Should there be any interruption in services use http://209.217.125.32

The contact details of our country campaigns you can find here

E-mail: icbl@icbl.org
=A9 www.icbl.org 1999