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British Policy
South Asia
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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 15, May 1997

New UK Landmines Policy

'New UK Policy on Landmines,' Joint Announcement by the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, and the Defence Secretary, George Robertson, 21 May 1997

Full text

"The Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, and the Defence Secretary, George Robertson, today announced that they would ban the import, export, transfer and manufacture of all forms of anti-personnel landmines (APLs). Other elements of the new policy are:

  • destruction of all UK stocks and a national ban on the use of APLs by 2005 at the latest;
  • a moratorium on the operational use of anti-personnel landmines by British forces until either the year 2005 or until an effective international agreement enters into force, whichever comes first;
  • we will negotiate constructively for an international ban in the 'Ottawa Process' while working in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva for a wider ban;
  • an undertaking to explore how existing stocks of APLs might be destroyed more quickly and how we can make more progress in helping to remove mines already laid across the world;
  • if, for a specific operation, the security of our Armed Forces would be jeopardised without the possibility of the use of landmines, then in these exceptional circumstances any use would be reported by the Government to Parliament.

The Foreign Secretary said:

'Every hour another three people lose their life or lose a limb from stepping on a landmine. Thousands of young children who ran onto a landmine are left unable to run ever again. Landmines have limited military use, but create unlimited civilian casualties.

Today we are announcing a complete ban on any British trade in landmines and a moratorium on their operational use with British forces. This honours another of New Labour's election pledges. The moratorium will remain in force until existing stocks are destroyed by the year 2005 or by the entry into force of an effective international agreement banning the use of landmines.

Britain will play a full part in the Ottawa Process to achieve an international ban on landmines. We will also redouble our efforts at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament to get the main export countries to stop selling landmines.

Our twin commitments to a ban on trade and a moratorium on the operational use of landmines will enable us to speak with authority at the negotiating table and to lead by force of example.'"

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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