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Oslo Conference: Landmines banned

17-09-1997 News Release 97/25

Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies wholeheartedly welcome and endorse the new treaty of international humanitarian law forever banning anti-personnel mines, which was concluded earlier today at a Diplomatic Conference in Oslo. " This is a victory for humanity. It shows that it is possible, with determination and perseverance, to make significant improvements in international humanitarian law " , said Louise Doswald-Beck, head of the ICRC delegation to the Conference.

The treaty contains an unambiguous prohibition on the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines. It requires the destruction of stockpiled mines within four years and of mines in the ground within ten years.

Since the lCRC launched its appeal for a total ban on anti-personnel mines in February 1994, the entire International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has worked strenuously to raise public awareness of the problem and to encourage diplomatic and military circles to strive for this historic breakthrough. " The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement will do its utmost to achieve universal ratification of the treaty and to ensure its earliest possible entry into force so as to end once and for all the horrendous suffering caused by anti-personnel mines, " added Louise Doswald-Beck.

The treaty will be formally adopted by the Oslo Diplomatic Conference on Thursday and opened for signature in Ottawa, Canada, on 3-4 December. The vast majority of the 106  States that officially launched the process in Brussels in June 1997 are expected to sign the treaty, whic h will enter into force once 40 signatory States have ratified it. In the meantime, States are nonetheless expected to respect the core obligations it lays down.