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Results of the Oslo Landmine Conference, 18 September 1997

18-09-1997

 The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) enthusiastically welcomes the adoption at the Oslo Diplomatic Conference of a treaty prohibiting the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of anti-personnel mines.  This is the first time that a weapon in widespread use has been prohibited under international humanitarian law. Some ninety States have been full participants in the negotiations and 30 States have attended as observers, as have representatives of the ICRC, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the United Nations and the International (NGO) Campaign to Ban Landmines.

There follows a summary of the major provisions of the treaty.

 GENERAL OBLIGATIONS  

States Parties undertake " never under any circumstances " to use, develop, stockpile, transfer or produce anti-personnel mines.

 DEFINITIONS  

The definition of anti-personnel mines includes all victim-actuated mines except anti-vehicle mines equipped with anti-handling devices. This is much stronger and clearer than the definition contained in the Protocol II as amended to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons.

 EXCEPTIONS  

States will be allowed to retain or transfer a " limited quantity " (understood to mean no more than several thousand) of anti-person nel mines for mine detection and clearance purposes only.

 DESTRUCTION OF STOCKPILED MINES  

Each State must destroy all stockpiled anti-personnel mines within 4 years of becoming a party to the Convention.

 CLEARANCE OF EMPLACED MINES  

Each State must clear all emplaced mines within 10 years of becoming a party to the Convention. Severely affected countries that require more time and resources may apply for periods of extension of up to 10 years at a time to meetings of States Parties. This provides a forum to which such States may direct a request for international aid and assistance.

 INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AND ASSISTANCE  

This provision covers international cooperation and assistance both for mine clearance and for victim assistance. In the provision on assistance to mine victims only there is a specific reference to the provision of assistance through " the International Committee of the Red Cross, National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and their International Federation " as well as through the UN and NGOs.

 TRANSPARENCY AND COMPLIANCE  

States must report annually on measures taken to implement the treaty. In case of alleged violations of the provisions of the treaty, a meeting of States Parties may decide to dispatch a fact-finding mission.

 NATIONAL IMPLEMENTATION MEASURES  

States must ensure the suppression of violations either by persons under its jurisdiction or control or on territory under its jurisdiction or control through legal, administrative and other measure s at national level.

 MEETINGS OF STATES PARTIES  

There will be annual meetings of States Parties beginning a year after entry into force of the Convention and continuing until, at least, the first Review Conference.

 REVIEW CONFERENCES  

A first Review Conference will be held 5 (five) years after entry into force of the Convention and thereafter upon a request by one or more States Parties as long as 5 years has gone by since the last Review Conference. The ICRC may be invited to these Conferences as an Observer.

 AMENDMENTS TO THE CONVENTION  

Amendments may be made to the Convention by a special amendment conference upon agreement of 2/3 of the States Parties present and voting.

The treaty will be translated into the official languages of the United Nations (the Secretary General is to be the depositary) and opened for signature from 3-4 December 1997 in Ottawa and thereafter at the UN Headquarters in New York. It is expected that the vast majority of the 106 States supporting the Brussels Declaration will sign the treaty. It will enter into force once 40 signatory States have ratified it, pending which States are nonetheless expected to respect its core obligations.

ICRC, Mines Unit, 18 September 1997

 Ref. LG 1997-104-ENG