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Southern Africa takes lead on landmines

18-04-1997 News Release 97/11

Geneva (ICRC) - The future of anti-personnel landmines in the southern Africa region will be considered at a seminar for member States of the Southern African Development Community next week. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) President Cornelio Sommaruga says he hopes the Harare seminar will mark a turning point in efforts to free southern Africa from both the human suffering and the social and economic burdens that result from landmines. 

The 21-23 April seminar in Harare, Zimbabwe, is being held in cooperation with the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the government of Zimbabwe. It will bring together representatives of Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs and is intended to promote a dialogue between military and humanitarian experts.

At the opening session on 21 April, which will be attended by the media, statements will be made by Zimbabwean Minister of Defence Moven Mahachi and William Nhara of the OAU Conflict Management Division. The three days of discussions will focus on the military utility of anti-personnel mines, alternatives to anti-personnel mines, and regional and international cooperation in mine clearance.

In a year that should see the conclusion of a new international treaty prohibiting anti-personnel landmines, this seminar offers an opportunity for the States of southern Africa to take a leading role in the international effort to eliminate one of the great scourges of the twentieth century. The Ottawa Conference, which in October 1996 brought together 50 States in favour of a total ban on anti-personnel landmines, specifically asked the ICRC in its Action Plan to organize the seminar.