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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 15, May 1997

Anti-landmines Campaigns: Latest Developments

On 10 April, an anti-landmines meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, urged the twelve Member States of the Southern African Development Community to declare national landmines bans, and to participate fully in the international 'Ottawa Process' aiming to see a ban agreed and signed by the end of 1997.

At the time of the meeting, only South Africa and Mozambique had declared national bans on the manufacture, stockpiling and use of landmines. On 15 May they were joined by Zimbabwe. According to Defence Minister Moven Mahachi:

"We...wish to reaffirm our unwavering support for the worldwide efforts to ban anti-personnel mines...

You may be aware that at various fora, Zimbabwe has been accused of manufacturing anti-personnel mines. To restore our image, which has been maliciously tarnished, I am proud to announce the following policy position - Zimbabwe has not manufactured anti-personnel mines since 1980 and undertakes not to acquire the technology or capacity to do sin the future. ... Zimbabwe will not allow the transfer of anti-personnel mines into its territory by any...party..."

Mahachi added: "The bulk of stocks of anti-personnel mines which we inherited from the previous regime was destroyed."

According to reports, Malawi, Mauritius and Swaziland are also considering declaring national bans.

On 12 May, it was announced that South Africa would host a three-day conference, later in the month, of African officials, experts and activists to draw up a Plan of Action for making Africa a landmines-free zone. See Documents and Sources for extracts from the Plan of Action.

On 18 April, a report from the US-based non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch, entitled Exposing the Source, identified 47 US companies allegedly involved, or potentially interested in, in the manufacture of anti-personnel landmines, landmines-components or other related equipment. Major companies listed include General Electric and Lockheed Martin. To date, according to reports, 17 US companies, including Motorola and Hughes Aircraft, have announced that they will take no further part in any landmines-related production. The Director of Human Rights Watch's Arms Control Project, Stephen Goose, said in Washington on 18 April that the US "cannot lead from the back of the pack": "The US should join its close allies such as Canada, France, Germany and Italy, which have already banned [landmine production]." The new Labour government in Britain announced such a ban on 21 May.

In Rome on 17 April, Italy's President, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, received a petition supporting a global landmines ban signed by 280,000 people.

Editor's note: see Geneva Update for developments at the Conference on Disarmament.

Reports: Campaign hots up to ban landmines, Pan African News Agency, 10 April; 280,000 Italians sign petition to ban landmines, Reuters World Service, 17 April; Report shows 47 US firms making landmines, Reuters World Service, 17 April; Landmine ban campaign rolls on, Inter Press Service International News, 18 April; Rights group challenges mine makers, UPI Business & Financial Wire, 18 April; Britain, France, Germany call for mine ban accord, Agence France-Presse International News, 7 May; S. Africa to host African anti-mine conference, Xinhua English Language News Service, 12 May; Zimbabwe bans anti-personnel mines, Agence France-Presse International News, 15 May; Zimbabwe denies manufacturing landmines, Pan African News Agency, 15 May.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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