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Anti-personnel mines: Crucial decisions for Oslo Conference

26-08-1997 News Release 97/24

On behalf of landmine victims worldwide, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is renewing its appeal to States to conclude a treaty prohibiting anti-personnel landmines at the Oslo Diplomatic Conference due to open on 1 September. More than 100 pro-ban countries are expected to be represented at the Conference, which is scheduled to last three weeks. The ICRC urges these States to stand firm in their commitment to a total ban.

The ICRC maintains that a total and immediate prohibition on the use of all anti-personnel mines is essential for the effectiveness and credibility of the treaty. Such an unequivocal ban has been crucial to the success of similar controls on weapons imposed by humanitarian law, such as the Protocol on blinding laser weapons negotiated in September 1995 the Geneva Protocol on poison gas adopted in 1925 and the prohibition on expanding (dum-dum) bullets agreed in 1899.

The ICRC believes that the definition of an anti-personnel mine in the treaty should be clear and unambiguous, and should encompass all types of anti-personnel mines, whether used on their own or in conjunction with other weapons. In this regard, the ICRC supports the definition proposed by the government of Austria.

The ICRC has made a strong appeal for a " no reservations " clause to be maintained in the final version of the treaty, similar to the provision in the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. This will ensure that all States are subject to the same obligations and will thereby build confidence in the treaty's implementation.

Every year an estimated 24,000 people, mostly civilians, are killed or injured by anti-pe rsonnel mines and millions more lives are disrupted by the loss of fertile agricultural land and by problems of access to food and water. An unambiguous and legally binding treaty banning anti-personnel mines is central to efforts to put an end to this humanitarian emergency.