Angola + 3 more

One year on, Landmines Campaign urges global adherence to the total ban

On the one-year anniversary of the day that the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty became binding international law, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) urged every country of the world to adhere to the ban on antipersonnel landmines.
"One year ago, this treaty entered into force more quickly than any other major treaty in history, demonstrating the world's growing commitment to eradicate this perverse weapon now," said Ms. Elizabeth Bernstein, ICBL Coordinator. "The treaty and the ban movement are making an undeniably huge impact in terms of saving future lives and limbs but we cannot rest until all countries of the world join in and adhere to the ban on antipersonnel mines."

To date, 137 countries have signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and 91 have ratified, an increase of four signatures and twenty-six ratifications during the last year. Recent ratifications include the Philippines, Liberia, Czech Republic and Tajikistan. ICBL events commemorating the one-year anniversary since the ban took effect are taking place in dozens of countries around the world; most focus on the need for universal adherence to the ban treaty.

"Ban campaigners in the United States and around the world urge President Clinton to accede to the ban before his term is finished and call on U.S. Presidential candidates Bradley, Bush, Gore and McCain to sign the ban treaty immediately if elected to office," said Holly Burkhalter, Coordinator of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines. To date, Senator Bill Bradley is the only candidate that has indicated he will join the ban upon taking office while Vice-President Gore supports the current policy of US signature in 2006 if alternatives are found and fielded. The positions of Bush and McCain remain unknown.

"In Finland, we are calling on our new President Tarja Halonen, who assumes office today, to sign the treaty now," said Ms. Laura Lodenius, Coordinator of the Finland Campaign to Ban Landmines. When she was in her previous position as Foreign Minister, Ms. Halonen spoke strongly in support of the ban treaty.

"While use of antipersonnel mines appears to have decreased globally, we are extremely alarmed at incidents of new use by both the Government of Angola, which has signed but not ratified the ban treaty, and by opposition UNITA forces," said Christian Ruge of Norwegian People's Aid, a major international humanitarian mine action organisation. "Any use of this weapon by anyone is deplorable and is condemned by the ICBL." Over the last year, the ICBL has also criticized use of air-dropped antipersonnel mines by Russia in Chechnya and use of AP mines by non-signatory Yugoslavia and by Kosovo rebels.

ICBL country campaigns are organizing an international conference in Geneva later in March to engage non-state actors to endorse and adhere to the total ban on antipersonnel landmines. "During two days, in the framework of international humanitarian law that recognises both states and non-states as parties to armed conflicts, we will be discussing the mine problem, responsibly and frankly, not only with experts but also with a selection of non state actors from all continents " explains Myriam Ferrer of the Philippines Campaign to Ban Landmines.

"Antipersonnel mine production is greatly reduced, mine exports have nearly ended altogether and more than 19 million antipersonnel mines have been destroyed from the arsenals of at least 50 nations in the last few years," said Bernstein. "Yet we estimate a global total of at least 250 million antipersonnel mines stockpiled in at least 104 nations, the majority held in ban treaty non-signatories which makes the need for global adherence to the ban even more imperative."

"We are still very concerned that mines are not coming out of the ground fast enough and that too much of the increased money pledged to mine clearance is not reaching the field," said Anne Capelle of Handicap International. "While more mines are cleared from the ground now than new mines laid, the daily toll of mine victims remains of grave concern," she added. In Trumba, Angola just days ago two people died and another one was wounded this week as they were heading to the fields to fetch food.

The major development in the last year was the release by the ICBL of its first 1,100-page Landmine Monitor Report 1999: Toward a Mine-Free World in May 1999 to the First Meeting of States Parties in Maputo in May 1999. Landmine Monitor is a unique civil society-based system by the ICBL, which monitors implementation of and compliance with the ban treaty, and overall international progress in dealing with the landmine crisis. Landmine Monitor is an unprecedented systematic, coordinated, global effort by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to monitor an arms control or humanitarian law treaty. The second annual report is currently in preparation by 110 researchers from 80 countries and is set for release to the second Meeting of States Parties in Geneva, Switzerland during the week of 11 September 2000.

Another major development over the course of the past year, is the regular, intersessional meetings by governments, international agencies and NGO experts to assess progress and problems with implementation of the treaty. These meetings are key to ensuring focused attention on implementation of the ban between the annual meetings of States parties. The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, officially referred to as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and On their Destruction, requires destruction of stockpiled mines in four years, and destruction of mines already in the ground within ten years. It urges assistance for the care and rehabilitation of mine victims. It requires detailed reporting on steps taken to comply with the ban. On 1 March 1999, the treaty became binding international law for the first 40 countries that ratified. Entry into force occurs for others six months after their individual dates of ratification. The Mine Ban Treaty has been an historic achievement. The ICBL is committed to fully implementing the ban treaty in order to eliminate the present daily human tragedy.

For additional information, please contact or call:

Liz Bernstein, ICBL: +1-202-547-2667 (French)
Holly Burkhalter, USCBL: +1-202-728-5335
Laura Lodenius, Finland CBL : +358-9-142915
Christian Ruge, Norwegian People's Aid: +47-913-75-191
Anne Capelle, Handicap International +32-479-29-50-28
(Portugese) - Myriam Ferrer, Philippines CBL +632 924 44 33

One-year anniversary of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty entry into force: Events around the world

Angola - Exhibition including ICRC mobile landmine exhibit combined with local elements such as children's designs, photos and handcrafts made by disabled. For further information contact:

Argentina - Letter to Foreign Minister signed by Adolfo Perez Esquivel and press release.

Australia - Meeting with Minister for Foreign Affairs. Postcards, letter writing and visits to embassies of countries of the region. A Call for Posters. "Destroy-a-Minefield Week" 27 March and opening of Art Exhibition "Ban Landmines, Build Peace" by George Gittoes. Contact:

Azerbaijan - Meeting with participation of government representatives, Parliament deputies, political parties, national and international NGOs, donor organizations, embassies and journalists. Contact:

Belgium - Launch of postcard campaign in 6 cities to send to President Clinton. Delivery of petitions by landmine survivors to US embassy, meeting with ambassador. Press release. Contact:

Cambodia - Mine Awareness day: distribution of material explaining the national legislation banning landmines. Delivery of letter and signatures by survivors to US embassy. Brochure with report card for ASEAN countries. Press
release. Contact:

Canada - Mine Action: Week of Activities including an event at the Canadian Children's Museum in Ottawa. Launch of a new symbol for the campaign, butterfly pins (made by Jesuit Refugee Service in Cambodia). Re-launch of the Song Kosal Youth Against War Treaty with the objective of handing as many youth signatures as possible to the new US president. Speakers from Sudan, Somalia and Cambodia. Events in 5 cities including delivery of petitions to the US consul in Montreal and Quebec. Press Release. Contact:

Chile - National press conference. Contact:

Colombia - Letters to government officials, regional embassies, radio interview and press conference.

Europe - 1 March 2000: EU-NGO CFSP(Common Foreign Security Policy) Contact Group Briefing on Antipersonnel Landmines. Contact:

Finland - Letters and Press Release encouraging the new government to sign the treaty as the new President, Ms. Tarja Halonen, takes office on 1 March and supported the treaty in her previous post as Foreign Minister.

France - Visits to embassies, letters to US, press release and media event. Contact:

Germany - Roundtable, organised together with the UKWGLM and MAG, to inform actors from UK's international development community about the Bad Honnef Framework. Press release. Contact:

Hong Kong - Letters to Asian signatories who have not yet ratified and non-signatories. Press release.

India - Workshop and photo exhibition. Contact:

Ireland - Alistair Hogson, a double amputee survivor of a landmine explosion in Northern Ireland 8 years ago, starts training on 1 March to attempt to become the 1st person in the world to qualify as a skydiver as a double amputee. Contact:

Japan - Letters to embassies in Japan of signatories who have not yet ratified. Press release.

Mauritius - Press release and media articles. Contact:

Namibia - Press release including concern over incidents of new use of landmines presumably planted on Namibian soil by the Angolan warring parties. Contact:

Romania - Some embassy visits. Contact:

Sweden - Visits to embassies. Letter to Prime Minister of Malta during visit to Sweden to urge ratification.

Switzerland - Sending a CD to each mission in Geneva of nonsignatories. A message: "The Ottawa Convention, is like a nice music of hope. But as long as it has holes, dancing is impossible!" is attached to the CD along with a letter. Contact:

Thailand - Release of endorsement by the Committee Representing the People's Parliament of Burma, for immediate accession by Burma to the treaty. Contact:

UK - launch of postcard campaign to the US Presidential Candidates.
See Contact:

USA - Call-in to President Clinton: Action Alert to members to contact the President and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Press Release. Contact:

United Nations, New York - photo exhibit and display.

International and virtual - Press briefing at the UN in New York as US Landmine survivors from World War II join appeals signed by 1000 landmine survivors from over a dozen heavily mine-affected countries for U.S. President Clinton to join the Treaty before he leaves office. Contact: Coordinated letters to signatories urging ratification by ICBL, ICRC and UNICEF; online letters and petitions ( Visits to embassies. Press Release. Contact:

Sign & Ratify the Treaty / Clear Mines / Help Survivors

Liz Bernstein
International Campaign to Ban Landmines
110 Maryland Ave NE
Box 6, Suite 504
Washington, DC 20002
Tel: +1 202 547 2667
Fax: +1 202 547 2687