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Geneva: a failure of the review conference can be measured in the loss of human limbs, lives and livelihoods

12-01-1995 News Release 2

During the fourth and last meeting (Geneva, 9-20 January) of the group of governmental experts to prepare the Review Conference of the States party to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons, the International Committee of the Red Cross has reminded the participants of their high responsibility. " Every month which passes before the implementation of strict and effective controls on anti-personnel mines can be measured in the loss of hundreds of human limbs, lives and livelihoods " , declared Mrs Louise Doswald-Beck, senior legal advisor at the ICRC.

The ICRC fears that the proposals being discussed at the preparatory meeting will not result in measures sufficiently effective to avoid further suffering. The most widely supported initiative currently under consideration would require that in principle anti-personnel mines should contain self-destruct mechanisms. However, this same proposal explicitly permits the continued production, sale and use of non-self-destruct mines for use in fenced and guarded minefields. Therefore " dumb mines " will continue to be available and the ICRC anticipates, with concern, that they will in practice be frequently used indiscriminately. " This use outside fenced and guarded areas is precisely what has had such devastating effects on civilian populations " , the ICRC legal advisor deplored. A regime based on the use of self-destruct mines is, according to the ICRC, only likely to reduce casualties if the production, transfer and use of non-self-destruct mines is prohibited and if it is accompanied by stringent verification and sanctions.

The ICRC strongly believes that for humanitarian reas ons the only effective solution to the tragedy of anti-personnel mines is their total prohibition and elimination. Other options being considered are likely to result in continued large-scale civilian casualties for many years to come.