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ICRC: A total ban on antipersonnel mines and blinding weapons is the best option

24-02-1994 Statement

Statement by Cornelio Sommaruga, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Press Conference, Geneva, 24 February 1994

The first preparatory meeting for the Review Conference on the 1980 United Nations Weapons Convention opens in Geneva on 28 February 1994.

It will be an important milestone in the long-term effort to control the use of the more destructive of modern weapons.

The Convention came into force in 1983 and has been ratified by 41 countries. This is the first opportunity -- and   the last for at least another 10 years -- to review its workings.

It is clear, for all its good intentions, that the Convention has had little impact on restricting the use of the deadly weapons it regulated in 1980 - in particular mines. Mines are now proliferating so fast that there are perhaps as many as 100 million of them in 62 countries. Scattered like deadly seeds, they have turned whole swaths of many countries into deserted, no-go areas.

Moreover, the Convention should take a stand against the invention of new even more terrifying weapons such as lasers that can destroy the eyesight of a victim. Blindness is considered the most incapacitating and dreaded form of disability. Against lasers there is no defence and there is no cure for the damage they cause.


  • We believe that the 1980 UN Weapons Convention should restrict the use of certain conventional weapons more effectively.

  • From a humanitarian point of view, we believe that a worldwide ban on antipersonnel mines is the only, truly effective solution, and that blinding as a method of warfare has to be outlawed now.

  • We believe that the Convention should be extended to internal armed conflicts, be given means of enforcement and have wide reaching control mechanisms.

  • Most importantly, we believe that the 1980 UN Weapons Convention has to be ratified by all the countries of the world.

Ref. DP(1994)4b