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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 15, May 1997

Africa Landmines Conference: Plan of Action

'Plan of Action of the First Continental Conference of African Experts on Landmines,' Kempton Park, South Africa, 19-21 May 1997.

The Conference was attended by 40 Member States of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), as well as UN agencies, representatives from other States, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Extracts

"I. On Policy On Landmines

The Conference discussed African policies on anti-personnel landmines, the momentum towards a global ban..., legal aspects of humanitarian law..., landmine-free zones with reference to the Organization of American States (OAS) and an African landmine-free zone.

...participants agreed:

1. To stress the need that the problem...be addressed in a coordinated and multi-faceted manner banning comprehensively anti-personnel landmines and intensifying efforts with regard to mine-clearance and mine victim assistance.

2. To adopt as a goal the elimination of anti-personnel landmines in Africa and the establishment of Africa as an Anti-Personnel Landmine-Free Zone.

3. All States should end all deployments of anti-personnel landmines and to establish national prohibitions such as those already adopted on the African continent on their use, production, stockpiling, transfer and their destruction.

4. Urged all States to participate actively in the Brussels Conference, 24-27 June 1997 [and] the Oslo Conference in September 1997, which [are] integral to the process leading to the negotiation and signature of a legally binding international agreement to ban anti-personnel landmines in Ottawa in December 1997.

5. For those States which are not yet parties, to adhere to the 1980 United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), including the Protocol II on landmines (as amended on 3 May 1996)...

6. To promote the strongest possible resolution on the banning of anti-personnel landmines to be considered by Heads of State and Government at the OAU Summit Meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, 2-4 June 1997.

II. On Mine Clearance

Noting the crucial link between the drive for the total ban of mines and mine clearance, the participants agreed as follows: ...

2. The challenge in demining is in the development of institutions rather than in mine clearance itself; full attention should, therefore, be devoted to this task. ...

5. The task of mine clearance in Africa is so vast that the public sector and commercial enterprises should operate in parallel reinforcing [of] each other's efforts. Further, the Armed Forces of African States should be allowed to play a proper role in demining. ...

10. For successful demining inter-African cooperation is seen as a vital and crucial element; such cooperation should cover such areas as political/diplomatic action, logistics, technical, financial, clearing operations, research and development, as well as the transfer of technology.

III. On Landmine Survivors Assistance

...the participants agreed as follows: ...

4. To urge governments to adopt a policy aiming at the establishment of national Mine Information systems.

5. To urge governments to include the active participation of landmine survivors in the formulation, the decision-making process, and the execution of national policy and legislation in respect of the articles that affect them. Concomitantly, survivors should influence their governments' positions in the formulation of international humanitarian treaties. ...

10. Governments should establish national Support Funds for landmine survivors and international donors should contribute to these Funds.

IV. On International Cooperation and Finance

...the Conference: ...

2. Underscored the moral responsibility of the powers which laid the mines during the Second World War and independence wars, and wished that these powers should devote a reasonable percentage of their military budget to mine clearance in the concerned African countries. ...

4. Requested the General Secretariat of the OAU, bearing in mind the experience of other International Organizations, to establish a mechanism to enhance the mobilisation of the International Community so as to assist the African countries affected by anti-personnel landmines."

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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