Issue No. 34, February 1999
Ottawa Convention Entry into Force
Entry into Force of the Convention on the Prohibition of the
Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines
and on Their Destruction (Ottawa Convention), 1 March 1999
Editor's note: the Convention, signed in the Canadian
capital in December 1997, entered into force on the first day of
the sixth month after the Treaty's 40th ratification, by Burkina
Faso (see Disarmament Diplomacy
No. 30, September 1998, pp.47-49). As of 1 March, 134 States
had signed, and 65 States had signed and ratified, the Convention.
Among the notable landmine-possessing States which have not signed
are the United States, China, Russia, India and Pakistan.
Statements & Reaction
'Struggle to eliminate anti-personnel mines key in effort
against weapons which kill and maim civilians indiscriminately,
Secretary-General says', statement as prepared for delivery at a 1
March bell-ringing ceremony at the United Nations, UN Press Release
SG/SM/6906, 26 February 1999
"Today, 1 March 1999, marks the entry into force of the Ottawa
Convention banning anti-personnel mines. It is a day whose arrival
few could have predicted, and whose import to the millions whose
lives or limbs may be saved from these barbarous weapons cannot be
overestimated. For the global community of conscience who fought
against all odds to see this day arrive, it is a milestone
I would particularly like to pay tribute to the efforts of the
International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the International
Committee for the Red Cross, whose visionary advocacy for what
seemed a lost cause has made it a reality. They have built the
foundation of a new era in the struggle against small arms and all
weapons which kill and maim civilians indiscriminately. The
struggle to eliminate anti-personnel mines is paramount in this
effort, not only for the damage they have done, but for the
permanent threat they represent to communities and villages
throughout the world, from the Balkans to Africa and Asia.
The battle ahead is to make this treaty fully effective not just
in law, but also in implementation; not just in the capitals of the
signatories, but also in the fields and forests where mines still
exist; not just in principle, but in practice. The United Nations
remains deeply engaged in this effort by assisting States in
locating and clearing these weapons.
I have invited all States members of the United Nations and
observer States to attend the First Meeting of States Parties to
this Convention, which will be held in Maputo, Mozambique, from 3
to 7 May, and hope that as many States as possible will be able to
join in opening the second chapter in this vital endeavour for
Austria, Canada, Mozambique, Norway & South
'Anti-Personnel Mine Convention Enters Into Force,' Canadian
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Press Release
No. 46 1998, 1 March 1999
Editor's note: the five States issued a joint statement
by virtue of their respective achievements and continuing
responsibilities in the ban-process: Austria contributed the
draft text of the Convention; Canada pressed for the
conclusion of negotiations before the end of 1997, and hosted the
signing ceremony; Mozambique will host the First Meeting of
States Parties in May this year; Norway hosted key
negotiations in September 1997; South Africa chaired the
September 1997 Oslo talks.
"The Foreign Ministers of Austria, Canada, Mozambique, Norway
and South Africa today welcomed the entry into force of the
Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production
and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.
In addition to banning the manufacture, storage, transfer and
use of anti-personnel (AP) mines, the Convention lays the
foundations for international co-operation in mine action efforts.
With its entry into force, the Convention has started the clock for
States Parties to comply with their obligations: stockpiles must be
destroyed within four years, and mined areas must be cleared within
Opened for signature in Ottawa on 3 December, 1997, the
Convention has been among the fastest to enter into force of any
such international agreement. To date, 134 countries have signed
the Convention, and 65 have ratified. On 24 February, Ukraine
became the most recent State to sign the Convention.
Austria's Foreign Minister, Wolfgang Schüssel, declared:
'Today, the total ban on anti-personnel mines has become a reality
under international law. This encourages us in the pursuit of our
common goal: no more mine victims. The same unprecedented
international co-operation that produced the Convention within a
year will allow us to rid the planet of the plight caused by these
Lloyd Axworthy, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, noted that
the degree of international support for the ban is significant:
'The way the Convention was developed broke the rules, and now the
speed at which it has entered into force has broken the records.
While we celebrate this achievement, we must remember that our
objective remains: freedom from the terror of mines. Canada will
continue to work with its partners to achieve this goal.'
Knut Vollebæk, Norway's Foreign Minister, noted that this
day marks a ground-breaking, remarkable achievement. 'The emphasis
must now shift from campaigning to implementation. The convention
provides the international community with a framework for
effectively resolving the tremendous humanitarian problems caused
by AP landmines. We must now respond in a co-ordinated and
integrated way, in order to free the world of these weapons within
a finite period.'
South Africa's Foreign Minister, Alfred Nzo, welcomed the entry
into force of the Convention: 'It will significantly contribute to
eradicating this scourge from the African continent, thereby
assisting the socio-economic advancement of its people who have
been so gravely afflicted by the use of these deadly weapons.'
Church bells will be ringing out in cities around the world
today, in celebration of the occasion. Numerous activities have
been arranged worldwide to commemorate the event. The next major
milestone for the Convention will be the First Meeting of States
Parties, to take place on May 3 to 7 in Maputo, Mozambique. In this
forum, countries party to the Convention (as well as other
interested States and non-governmental organizations) will review
progress to date in implementing the Convention and set new goals
for increased international co-operation.
Mozambican Foreign Minister Leonardo Simao noted that the
Government and the people of Mozambique are honoured to host the
First Meeting of States Parties and look forward to welcoming all
participants. 'It is our earnest hope that the Maputo Meeting will
succeed in devising joint actions against anti-personnel mines,
including assistance and rehabilitation of victims as well as
raising international awareness of this issue.'
The five Ministers called upon all countries to join them in
becoming States Parties to the Convention, and pledged to work
together to promote effective global mine action."
Remarks by Prime Minister Eric Derycke, 1 March
"It's particularly regrettable that in the United States the
issue has for the moment become less urgent... We won't convince
Russia and China to sign the treaty if we don't convince the United
Source: UN landmine treaty takes effect, Associated
Press, 1 March.
'Landmines: Ottawa Convention Comes Into
Force', Statement by Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, Foreign &
Commonwealth Office Daily Bulletin, 1 March 1999
"I am delighted that the Ottawa Convention has entered into
force so quickly. This reflects the international community's
determination to rid the world of these dreadful weapons. The UK
has been at the forefront of this campaign. We were among the first
to sign and ratify the Convention but our work doesn't stop here.
We must secure the widest possible adherence to the ban, and the
removal of the millions of mines already laid across the world. Our
posts overseas have recently carried out a worldwide lobbying
exercise aimed at encouraging those countries that have not yet
signed and ratified Ottawa to do so as soon as possible."
Remarks by Clare Short, Secretary of State for International
Development, 1 March
"We really miss [Princess] Diana. She was moving public opinion
throughout the world. Are the US or China feeling under as much
pressure as when she was campaigning? I fear not."
Source: Pope's plea over landmine ban, BBC Online
Network, 1 March.
Press release from International Campaign to Ban Landmines
(ICBL), 1 March: "On the day that the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty
becomes binding international law, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning
International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) praised the
remarkable progress made in eliminating antipersonnel landmines,
condemned those who continue to use the weapon, especially treaty
signatory Angola, and called for more assistance for mine action
and mine victims. The ICBL has organized bell-ringing and other
events around the world today to mark the ban treaty's historic
'The momentum has continued unabated since the signing of the
ban treaty in December 1997,' said Jody Williams, ICBL Ambassador
and Nobel co-laureate. 'Today, this treaty enters into force more
quickly than any other major treaty in history, demonstrating the
world's commitment to eradicate this insidious weapon now,' said
'While the treaty and the ban movement have already had a huge
impact in terms of saving future lives and limbs, we will not have
real success until there is effective and rapid implementation on
the ground, and more of the recalcitrant governments join in.'
Taking stock of progress, the ICBL noted:
- to date, 134 nations have signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and
65 have ratified;
- use of antipersonnel mines appears to be significantly on the
- some 10-15 million antipersonnel mines have already been
destroyed from stockpiles;
- mine production is greatly reduced; only 15 of the more than 50
countries that have manufactured antipersonnel mines have not
- mine exports have nearly ended altogether; only three of the
more than three dozen known past exporters have not announced a
- more demining programs are underway in more countries than ever
'On the downside,' said Tun Channereth, ICBL Ambassador, 'mines
are not coming out of the ground as fast as we would like and too
much of the increased money pledged to mine clearance is not
reaching the field. We may have turned the corner where more old
mines are being cleared each day than new mines are being laid, but
the daily toll of mine victims remains frightfully high.' Mr. Tun
Channereth, a landmine survivor from Cambodia added, 'We hope that
the governments hear the bells ringing on this historic day calling
attention to the plight of the mine victims!'
'Our biggest disappointments,' said Liz Bernstein ICBL
co-coordinator, 'are those who continue to use antipersonnel mines
and those who continue to resist the tide of history by not
signing, especially China, Russia and the United States. The ICBL
condemns users of this coward's weapon. They should be ostracized
for behavior unbecoming civilized nations.' The ICBL particularly
condemns the government of Angola for signing the ban treaty in
December 1997 then resorting to the use of mines in its renewed
conflict with UNITA mere months later.
The ICBL also condemns UNITA for its renewed use of
Among the other places where antipersonnel mines are reportedly
being laid today, by government and/or rebel forces, are:
Yugoslavia (Kosovo), Sri Lanka, Burma, Colombia, Georgia/Abkhazia,
Algeria, Somalia and the Congo.
Responding to recent reports about a split between deminers and
ban campaigners, Halle J. Hansen, director of Norwegian People's
Aid, the world's largest humanitarian mine clearance organization,
said, 'We have always viewed demining and the ban as two essential,
mutually reinforcing goals and activities. There is no question
that a political ban - stopping new production, trade, stockpiling
and use - is a pre-requisite to successful, long-term global mine
clearance. The attention to the issue generated by the ban movement
has been nothing but beneficial to deminers. The number of
organizations and individuals in our profession who think otherwise
is very small.' ...
ICBL events celebrating the 1 March 1999 entry-into-force of the
ban treaty are taking place in dozens of countries from New Zealand
to Kenya to the UK and include bell-ringing, ceremonies to remember
the victims of mines, demonstrations in non-signatory countries -
including one outside the White House in Washington DC, and a
seminar at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway. The International
Campaign to Ban Landmines is a coalition of over 1300
non-governmental organizations in over 75 countries working to ban
antipersonnel landmines, clear them and assist the victims."
Source: ICBL web-site, http://www.icbl.org
Press Release fromHuman Rights Watch, 1 March: "As the
1997 Mine Ban Treaty became binding international law today, Human
Rights Watch praised the remarkable progress in eliminating
antipersonnel landmines around the world. But it also questioned
the sincerity of the United States in reaching its stated goal of
signing the ban treaty by 2006.
'The goal of 2006 is already unconscionably distant,' said
Stephen Goose, Program Director for the Arms Division of Human
Rights Watch. 'But how can we believe the Pentagon is serious about
that goal, if it's seeking nearly $50 million from Congress this
year for a new mine system that will be banned by the treaty?'
The new system, called RADAM, will package together existing
antipersonnel and antitank mines and will cost in excess of $200
million. If the US signs the treaty, it will be unable to use RADAM
after 2006, and will then have to spend money to destroy it. Last
May the US said it would sign the treaty by 2006, but only if the
Pentagon's search for alternatives to mines was successful.
'RADAM is the latest of a growing number of indicators that the
Pentagon is not serious about the 2006 deadline, and that it is
very unlikely to be met,' said Mr. Goose.
The world is moving rapidly toward a ban without the United
States... Ukraine, a nation with a stockpile of 10 million
antipersonnel landmines - nearly as many mines as in the US
stockpile - signed the treaty last week.
The landmines treaty has become binding international law more
quickly than any major treaty in history. Global production is down
significantly, global exports have been reduced to a trickle, more
than 10 million antipersonnel mines have already been destroyed
from stockpiles, and new use appears to be on the wane. There are
still serious disappointments: the government of Angola - a treaty
signatory - is once again laying mines, and very few nations from
the Middle East and former Soviet Republics are willing to sign
Source: Human Rights Watch web-site, http://www.hrw.org
Press Release from the International Committee of the Red
Cross, 1 March: "On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of mine
victims and the millions who live each day in fear of those
weapons, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and
the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies whole-heartedly welcome the entry into force of the
'The treaty represents the standard by which all efforts to deal
with this humanitarian tragedy will be judged', said ICRC
Vice-President Eric Roethlisberger at a ceremony held at the United
Nations' Geneva headquarters to mark the event. Mr Roethlisberger
drew attention to the daunting challenges that lie ahead for
States, international agencies and non-governmental organizations
in ensuring that the treaty becomes binding worldwide and fully
implemented in mine-affected communities. He committed the ICRC to
doing its share in this regard.
'The task before us - to ensure rapid universalization and
implementation of the Ottawa treaty - is a matter of high priority
for National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies', said Ms. Astrid
N. Heiberg, President of the International Federation. 'Those
Societies continue to play a key role by advising their governments
on national legislation needed to ensure swift implementation of
the treaty's provisions and by keeping the plight of mine victims
in the public eye.'
The ICRC is currently running 25 limb-fitting and rehabilitation
programmes in 13 countries (Afghanistan, Angola, Azerbaijan,
Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Georgia, Iraq,
Kenya, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan and Uganda).
Twenty-four ICRC projects in 12 other countries have now been
handed over to local or international NGO control, though many
continue to receive financial and technical support from the ICRC.
In a number of countries, the National Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies, supported by their International Federation, care for
mine-injured people through health, rehabilitation and social
welfare programmes. ..."
Source: ICRC web-site, http://www.icrc.ch
Statement from Pope John Paul II, 1 March: "This [moment]
signifies a victory for the culture of life over the culture of
death. I pray to God to give all people the courage to make peace,
so that the countries that have not yet signed this important
instrument of international humanitarian law do so without
Source: Pope's plea over landmine ban, BBC Online
Network, 1 March.
US Senator Patrick Leahy (Democrat - Vermont), 1 March:
"This is a global problem that cries out for US leadership...
President Clinton deserves credit for taking some steps to move the
policy of his Administration. There has been progress. But the
response has been slow and it has been grudging and it has fallen
far short of what is needed."
Source: US faulted on landmine treaty, Associated
Press, 1 March.
US Representative Jack Quinn (Republican - New York), 1
March: "Any treaty that bans landmines cannot be effective without
the United States as a signatory. We are the only nation in the
world who has the military, economic, and moral influence to
enforce such a ban."
Source: US lawmakers push for landmine treaty compliance,
Reuters, 2 March.
© 1999 The Acronym Institute.
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