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Vienna Conference on UN weapons ConventionICRC regrets outcome on landmine issue but welcomes new ban on blinding laser weapons

13-10-1995 News Release 95/50

Vienna/Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) deeply regrets that the Review Conference of the 1980 United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, held in Vienna over the past three weeks, was unable to agree on measures to prohibit or substantially restrict the use of landmines. This unfortunate outcome reflects both the overly complex technical nature of many of the proposals considered and an unwillingness on the part of many States to place significant limits on landmine use, in order to achieve the humanitarian goals of the Conference.  The ICRC does, however, welcome the adoption today of a new, legally binding agreement which will prohibit the use of laser weapons to intentionally blind soldiers or civilians.

The new protocol prohibits both the use and the transfer of laser weapons specifically designed to cause permanent blindness. It also requires States to take all feasible precautions, including training of armed forces, to avoid permanent blinding through the legitimate use of other laser systems.

Despite the deadlock on the landmines issue at the Vienna Conference, the ICRC sees the Conference as a step towards the stigmatization and elimination of anti-personnel landmines. The Conference clearly demonstrated that the international public outcry about these weapons has broken the consensus that they are legitimate weapons of war. By the first week of the Conference sixteen States had joined the ICRC and the Secretary General of the United  Nations in calling for a total ban.

The ICRC encourages all the States that will participate in the resumed session of the Review Conference to rise above their narrow nat ional interests in the general interest of humanity.