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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 37, May 1999

The Ottawa Convention: First Meeting of States Parties

First Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (the Ottawa Convention), Maputo, Mozambique, 3-7 May 1999

The Maputo Declaration

'Maputo Declaration,' APLC/MSP.1/1999/L.6, 7 May 1999

"1. We, the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, together with signatory States, are gathered in Maputo, Mozambique, joined by international organizations and institutions and non-governmental organizations, to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the total eradication of an insidious instrument of war and terror: anti-personnel mines.

2. Even now, at the end of the century, anti-personnel mines continue to maim and kill countless innocent people each day; force families to flee their lands and children to abandon their schools and playgrounds; and prevent long-suffering refugees and displaced persons from returning to rebuild their homes and their lives. The real or suspected presence of anti-personnel mines continues to deny access to much-needed resources and services and cripples normal social and economic development.

3. We raise our serious concern at the continued use of anti-personnel mines in areas of instability around the world. Such acts are contrary to the aims of the Convention; they exacerbate tensions, undermine confidence and impede diplomatic efforts to find peaceful solutions to conflicts.

4. Therefore, even as we celebrate this First Meeting of the States Parties two months after the rapid entry-into-force of the Convention, we recognise that the enduring value of this unique international instrument rests in fully realizing the obligations and the promise contained within the Convention

  • to ensure no new use;
  • to eradicate stocks;
  • to cease development, production and transfers;
  • to clear mined areas and thus free the land from its deadly bondage;
  • to assist the victims to reclaim their lives and to prevent new victims.
5. We believe these to be common tasks for humanity and therefore call on governments and people everywhere to join us in this effort.

6. To those who continue to use, develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain and transfer these weapons: cease now, and join us in this task.

7. To those who can offer technical and financial assistance to meet the enormous challenges of humanitarian mine action: intensify your efforts and help build the capacity of mine-affected countries themselves to increasingly take on these tasks.

8. To those who can offer assistance: help with the physical and psycho-social treatment and social and economic re-integration of mine victims, support mine awareness education programmes, and help those States in need to meet treaty obligations to demine and to destroy stockpiles, thus facilitating the widest possible adherence to the Convention.

10. To those that have not yet joined this community of States Parties: accede quickly to the Convention. To those who have signed: ratify. If ratification will take more time: provisionally apply the terms of the Convention while you put in place the necessary domestic legislation.

11. To the international community: promulgate, implement and universalize the Convention, the new international standard and norm of behaviour it is establishing.

12. In this spirit, we voice our outrage at the unabated use of anti-personnel mines in conflicts around the world. To those few signatories who continue to use these weapons, this is a violation of the object and purpose of the Convention that you solemnly signed. We call upon you to respect and implement your commitments.

13. Know that, as a community dedicated to seeing an end to the use of anti-personnel mines, our assistance and cooperation will flow primarily to those who have foresworn the use of these weapons forever through adherence to and implementation of the Convention.

14. Driven by the sad reality that the people of the world will continue to suffer the consequences of the use of anti-personnel mines for many years to come, we believe it crucial that we use this First Meeting of the States Parties to ensure that we make continued, measurable progress in our future efforts to eradicate anti-personnel mines and to alleviate the humanitarian crisis caused by them.

15. We recognise that anti-personnel mines represent a major public health threat. The plight of mine victims has revealed the inadequacy of assistance for victims in the countries most affected. Such assistance must be integrated into broader public health and socio-economic strategies to ensure not simply short-term care for victims, but special attention to the serious long-term needs for social and economic reintegration. Mine victims must be permitted to realise, with dignity, their place within their families and their societies. These issues must be accorded the highest political importance and practical commitment by States Parties and all those in the international community who care about this issue.

16. To this end, we commit ourselves to mobilise resources and energies to universalize the Convention, alleviate and eventually eradicate the human suffering caused by anti-personnel mines, including by striving to meet the goal of "zero victims".

17. For these purposes, we, the States Parties, will implement an intersessional work programme to take us steadily forward to the next Meeting of States Parties, which will take place in Geneva from 11 to 15 September 2000. This will enable us to focus and advance our mine action efforts and to measure progress made in achieving our objectives. This work will be based on our tradition of inclusivity, partnership, dialogue, openness and practical cooperation. In this regard, we invite all interested governments, international organizations and institutions and non-governmental organizations to join us in this task.

18. Our work programme will draw together experts, building on the discussions held here in Maputo, to address the key thematic issues of:

  • the general status and operation of the Convention;
  • mine clearance;
  • victim assistance and mine awareness;
  • stockpile destruction; and,
  • technologies for mine action.
This intersessional work will, inter alia, assist us in developing, with the United Nations, a global picture of priorities consistent with the obligations and time-frames contained within the Convention, including with regard to international cooperation and assistance. It will also take into account important work done at the international, regional and sub-regional levels.

18. The work of our experts will begin just four months from now, in Geneva. We appreciate and accept the offer of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining to support our efforts. Our work will complement and reinforce the important mine action activities being undertaken by mine-affected States working in partnership with other States, international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations and the private sector also recognizing the United Nations system as an important actor in global mine action efforts.

19. Meeting here in one of the most mine-affected continents on earth and in a country which has experienced the ravages wreaked by these weapons on the Mozambican people and the social fabric of the nation, we focus our minds and strengthen our conviction on the need to make the killing fields of anti-personnel mines that have terrorized, maimed and killed people, destroyed lives and hope for too long, a relic of the past.

We are determined to succeed in our common task. We are determined to work in partnership to this end. We are determined to apply the principle of international humanitarian law, enunciated in the final preambular paragraph of the Convention itself that 'the right of the parties to an armed conflict to choose methods or means of warfare is not unlimited'. This is our firm pledge to future generations."

Summary of Meeting

'First Meeting of States Parties Concludes; "Maputo Declaration" calls for universal application of Ottawa Convention; Intersessional work programme decided,' Final Press Release from the First Meeting of States Parties (FMSP), 7 May 1999

"The First Meeting of States Parties (FMSP) to the 'Ottawa Convention' concluded in Maputo, Mozambique today with the adoption of a final Declaration and report on its work.

Addressing the closing plenary session, the President of the FMSP, Mozambique's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr. Leonardo Santos Simão, urged all States to take urgent measures to eliminate landmines. 'Eradication should be considered as a priority,' he said, because anti-personnel mines continued to kill and maim thousands of defenseless civilians, particularly women and children.

Dr. Simão said the Maputo meeting should be a starting point for a systematic and effective implementation of the Ottawa Convention. He expressed the hope that the effective commitments assumed in Maputo would be priorities for all Governments, international and non-governmental organizations - and for civil society in general. …

President's Press Conference

At his closing press conference, correspondents asked Dr. Simão to comment on the absence in the Maputo Declaration of references to specific allegations about landmine use. In reply, he said the Declaration was a statement of general principles, which expressed the consensus of the States Parties. 'The meeting was not a tribunal,' he said. Paragraph 11, which concerns the continued use of landmines by signatories, reflected the concern of the meeting with the violations of the Convention by any signatory, Dr. Simão said.

Intersessional Work Programme

The States Parties agreed that Standing Committees of Experts should begin meeting in Geneva in September this year, and welcomed the support of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining in this regard.

The Standing Committees will take up mine clearance (13 - 15 September 1999); victim assistance, socio-economic integration and mine awareness (15-17 September); stockpile destruction (9-10 December); technologies for mine action (13-14 December), and the general status and operation of the Convention (10-11 January 2000) .

During the FMSP, working groups were set up to focus on these themes.

General Guidelines: The President presented a paper containing general guidelines for the intersessional work programme which he said should help maintain the momentum and cohesion behind global humanitarian mine action.

The Standing Committees of Experts should provide an informal forum where experts representing all those engaged in mine action - States Parties, signatory States, other interested States, as well as international and regional organizations and NGO - would have an opportunity to participate in substantive discussion.

The paper noted that the work of the Standing Committees of Experts should support, among other things, the coordination role of UNMAS. United Nations and regional organizations should be urged to participate in the work of the Committees.

Mine Clearance: The working group on mine clearance technologies focused on technological research and its contribution towards improving quality, effectiveness, speed and safety of mine clearance operations. The working group's objective was to help establish the link between users' needs and the capacities of technological development.

Technology must necessarily be seen in the overall context of mine action, the group noted. It must be based on a dialogue between deminers, private industry and donors. Financial support for development of technology should not detract from funding to current mine action programmes. The group explored such issues as measuring the impact and success of mine clearance, planning and prioritization.

Developing more dependable detection techniques was an urgent priority in order to increase the safety of deminers and accelerate demining operations. The group described building national capacity as 'fundamental' and acknowledged the overarching role of the UN system in the coordination of mine clearance. The working group highlighted the importance of developing software for analyzing requirements of different demining environments and for perfecting the choosing between different techniques. It welcomed the pioneering work being done along this line by the UN Mine Action Service and the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining.

Victim Assistance: The working group on victim assistance, socio-economic integration and mine awareness expressed consensus on the need for comprehensive and integrated mine victim assistance - including mine awareness and education - within the context of national reconstruction and development policies. The group proposed that the Standing Committee of Experts should, among other things, support a wider scope of assistance to landmine victims, including medical assistance and rehabilitation of individuals as well as communities. It should also promote the exchange of experiences and facilitate use at the country level of the Strategic Framework for Victim Assistance, formulated by ICRC, WHO, UNICEF and the ICBL. The group recommended that the Standing Committee ensure consensus was reached on globally applicable approach to integrated programmes and on guiding principles for mine victim assistance.

The intersessional committee of experts should also aim at reaching consensus, before the September 2000 Meeting of States Parties, on a globally applicable approach to integrated programmes and on guiding principles for mine victim assistance.

Stockpile Destruction: The working group on stockpile destruction stressed 'due and strict compliance' with Article 4 of the Convention. Referring to estimates indicating that some 90 per cent of the world's estimated 250,000,000 mines were in stocks held by non-signatory States, the group considered it imperative that universalization of the treaty was a top priority. The group welcomed some States' offers of assistance to others struggling to ensure their compliance with Article 4. The focus of the intersessional work should be to seek ways to ensure compatibility between the capacities of donors and the needs of States requesting assistance under Article 4. ...

The States Parties adopted standard formats for the presentation of their reports on measures taken to implement the Convention under Article 7. ...

States Parties and Other Ratifying States

A total of 135 States have signed the Ottawa Convention. Under Article 17 of the Convention, a State formally becomes a 'State Party' six months after its instrument of ratification is deposited with the United Nations Secretariat. By the end of the FMSP, a total of 80 States had deposited their instruments of ratification.

During the meeting, the Convention was in force for the following 55 States Parties: Andorra, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, France, Germany, Grenada, Guinea, Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niue, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Samoa, San Marino, Senegal, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

In addition, 24 States deposited instruments of ratification but had not yet passed the six-month mark: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Barbados, Brazil, Chad, Costa Rica, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Italy, Lesotho, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Niger, Portugal, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Swaziland, Uganda, Venezuela.

Participants at the FMSP

Delegations from 108 States participated in the First Meeting of States Parties, including:

96 signatory States: Albania; Algeria; Angola; Antigua and Barbuda; Argentina; Australia; Austria; Bangladesh; Belgium; Benin; Bolivia; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Brazil; Bulgaria; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cambodia; Cameroon; Canada; Cape Verde; Chad; Chile; Colombia; Côte d'Ivoire; Croatia; Cyprus; Czech Republic; Denmark; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; El Salvador; Ethiopia; France; Gabon; Germany; Ghana; Greece; Guatemala; Guinea; Holy See; Honduras; Hungary; Iceland; Indonesia; Ireland; Italy; Jamaica; Japan; Jordan; Kenya; Lesotho; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Malawi; Malaysia; Mali; Mauritania; Mauritius; Mexico; Mozambique; Namibia; Netherlands; New Zealand; Nicaragua; Niger; Norway; Panama; Peru; Paraguay; Philippines, Poland; Portugal; Romania; Rwanda; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; San Marino; Senegal; Slovakia; Slovenia; South Africa; Spain; Sudan; Swaziland; Sweden; Switzerland; Thailand; The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; Togo; Turkmenistan; Uganda; Ukraine; United Kingdom; United Republic of Tanzania; Yemen; Zambia; Zimbabwe.

12 non-signatories: China, Cuba, Finland, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Libya, Morocco, Nepal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Turkey.

The following 39 signatory States did not attend the Maputo meeting: Andorra; Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Botswana; Brunei Darussalam; Cook Islands; Costa Rica; Djibouti; Dominica; Equatorial Guinea; Fiji; Gambia; Grenada; Guinea Bissau; Guyana; Haiti; Liechtenstein; Madagascar; Maldives; Malta; Marshall Islands; Monaco; Niue; Qatar; Republic of Moldova; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Samoa; Sao Tome and Principe; Seychelles; Sierra Leone; Solomon Islands; Suriname; Trinidad and Tobago; Tunisia; Uruguay; Vanuatu; Venezuela.

Palestine was represented as an observer, along with international organizations and entities such as: the United Nations and its related programmes and agencies; the Organization of African Unity, the European Community and the Organization of the American States. The International Committee of the Red Cross also attended, along with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and other non-governmental organizations."

Source: ICBL website, http://www.icbl.org

Statement by the ICBL

Head of ICBL Delegation Stephen Goose of Human Rights Watch, 4 May

"We were pleased to present a Landmine Monitor report to every delegation yesterday and hope that they will find it useful in assessing implementation of the treaty. This is the first in a series of annual reports to be produced by the ICBL's Landmine Monitor system and its global reporting network, currently active in more than 80 nations. … The Landmine Monitor report documents the very substantial progress that has been made in implementing this treaty and establishing the norm against the antipersonnel mine. We have seen a distinct decrease in global use, production, transfer and stockpiling of antipersonnel mines. The number of mine victims is decreasing in such high-risk places as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Cambodia, Mozambique and Somaliland. Landmine Monitor has identified 13 conflicts in which we believe it is likely mines have been used since the December 1997 treaty signing and there are frequent allegations in another five. While even one is too many, this number is surprisingly low - mines are clearly no longer being used automatically and without consideration of the humanitarian consequences around the world. More than 12 million mines have been destroyed from the stockpiles of more than 30 nations - mines that will never claim a civilian victim. At least 38 nations have stopped production of antipersonnel mines, while just 16 producers remain. There is no evidence of significant exports of antipersonnel mines by any nation in recent years and Iraq is the only known past exporter that has not at least publicly declared a halt to mine shipments. Eight of the twelve biggest producers and exporters of the past 30 years are treaty signatories, counter to the oft-heard criticism that the Mine Ban Treaty does not include major producers and exporters.

Yet the news is by no means all good. The most disturbing finding of the report is that it appears three treaty signatories have used mines since December 1997. Angola's continued use has been properly noted and criticized by many yesterday and today. Guinea-Bissau also used mines in its internal conflict in 1998, and it is likely that the forces of Senegal used mines as well in that conflict in support of the Guinea-Bissau government. Yugoslavia has rightly been criticized for recent mine use, but non-signatories and non-State actors are still using mines on a near daily basis in places such as Burma and Sri Lanka, and on occasion in such rarely noticed places as Djibouti.

Moreover, Landmine Monitor research reveals that global stockpiles of antipersonnel mines likely total more than 250 million, which is more than double the previous common estimate. The ICBL believes that an increased emphasis needs to be placed on mine stockpile destruction, as a form of 'preventive mine action.' We encourage States Parties and others to consider the establishment of a special program and fund to facilitate stock destruction; this could possibly be done through the intersessional work. This effort should not be undertaken at the expense of other mine action programs. Such a program would not only keep mines out of the ground, but could encourage universalization as well. …

There are several issues of special concern to the ICBL that we would like to highlight for delegates. First, we note that only a relatively small number of States Parties have enacted domestic legislation implementing the treaty. Just as signature, then ratification were vital, so is implementation law. The ICBL calls on all States Parties to enact such legislation quickly, including imposing penal sanctions for treaty violations.

Second, we are concerned about the issue of antivehicle mines with antihandling devices. States Parties need to acknowledge more explicitly the diplomatic understanding reached during the Oslo negotiations that if such mines explode from an innocent, unintentional act, they are to be considered antipersonnel mines, and therefore banned. Indeed, the ICBL believes that all weapons that function as antipersonnel mines should be banned. ...

Third is the matter of treaty States Parties and signatories potentially engaging in joint military operations with a non-signatory that may use antipersonnel mines. The conflict in Kosovo has turned this from a largely theoretical discussion to a very real and grave concern. While there is no evidence the United States has yet used antipersonnel mines in this NATO operation, the US has stated that it reserves the right to do so. The ICBL calls on treaty signatories to insist that any non-signatories do not use antipersonnel mines in joint operations. This should be a matter of great concern to all NATO nations, as well as Japan, Australia, New Zealand and others.

And fourth, the ICBL remains concerned about the related issues of US antipersonnel mines stockpiled in at least seven nations which have signed the treaty, and the permissibility of the US or other non-signatories transiting mines through the national territory of treaty signatories. The ICBL believes that all US mines must be removed from those nations, and that the transit of mines for the purpose of war fighting would constitute a treaty violation. ..."

Source: ICBL website, http://www.icbl.org

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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