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Southern Africa: Move to ban landmines

24-04-1997 News Release 97/15

A regional seminar of experts on anti-personnel mines, held from 20 to 23 April in Harare, Zimbabwe, has taken the first step towards declaring Southern Africa a mine-free zone. The experts concluded that even though anti-personnel mines might serve a limited military purpose, their utility was far outweighed by the appalling humanitarian consequences of their use.

Military and defence officials, together with high-level representatives of Ministries of Foreign Affairs from all 12 States of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), called on their governments to put an immediate end to all new deployments and to enact national prohibitions on the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of this weapon.

Participants urged the SADC to place the issue of landmines high on its agenda and to give urgent consideration to matters such as joint training in mine clearance, the establishment of an anti-personnel mines data bank, the promotion of technological cooperation, and expanded programmes for assistance to mine victims.

They further encouraged active participation in the continental conference on landmines to be convened by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Johannesburg this coming May. At this meeting over 50 Member States will be urged to sign an international treaty banning anti-personnel mines at a conference in Ottawa, Canada, at the end of this year.

The Harare seminar was organized by the ICRC, with support from the OAU and the government of the Republic of Zimbabwe.