Archived page: may contain outdated information!
  • Send page
  • Print page

Third Session of the Review Conference of the 1980 United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons


Update no 7

 Geneva, 22 April - 3 May 1996  


* Council of Europe  

On 24 April 1996, the Council of Europe's 39-State Parliamentary Assembly called for a total ban on the transfer, exportation and use of anti-personnel mines. The Assembly requested that member States adopt national laws on humanitarian matters, ratify the Protocols additional to the Geneva Convention and boost political and financial support for the Red Cross. During a debate on anti-personnel mines, ICRC President Cornelio Sommaruga said that there were 110 million mines waiting to kill and maim in 64 countries, and three million in Bosnia alone. With more than 30 conflicts around the globe, he appealed for the creation of an international system of rules which could be made part of national criminal law in all countries, in order to ensure that persons who violate international law are prosecuted.

* Inter-Parliamentary Union  

At the request of the 95th Inter-Parliamentary Conference, which was held in Istanbul from 15-20 April 1996, the ICRC on 23 April forwarded to Ambassador Johan Molander, President of the Review Conference of the CCW, the original list of 220 signatures from 133 national parliaments all over the world and the three international parliamentary assemblies which form the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). At the initiative of Belgium, Canada, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, the petition appealed for a ban on the production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines. In a letter addressed to Mr Molander, IPU Secretary General Pierre Cornillon remarked that " [the IPU ] position on the important issue of landmines ... reflects, I believe, not only the views of and commitments of the parliamentary community worldwide but also the concerns of civil society at large, of which parliaments are the institutional representatives. " (Facsimiles of the IPU appeal and the list of individual signatures are available at the ICRC's Communication Department / Mines Unit).  

* The enduring legacy of mine injuries  

Since the end of the CCW Review Conference in Vienna on 13 October 1995, the ICRC has added over 115 cases to its Mine Incident Registry. More than 200 people were killed and 1,000 injured in these incidents. Sadly, this represents only a very small fraction of the estimated 2,000 casualties that occur every month, the vast majority of which go unreported.  

In the past few weeks landmines have indiscriminately killed and injured children, civilians, UN and NATO peace-keepers in various parts of the world. On 29 February 1996, an 11-year-old boy lost his arm when he picked up a mine near a bus depot in Sarajevo. The following day, two Portuguese IFOR soldiers were wounded when a mine exploded in Gorazde, Bosnia . In Abkhazia , on 3 March 1996, a mine-clearer with the Russian peacekeeping force had his foot blown off by a mine. He had successfully deactivated 62 mines when the sixty-third - the unlucky one - exploded. On 22 March, in Peru , three people were injured and a 13-year-old boy killed by mines planted around power lines. A few days later, on 27 March, at least 10 people were killed in north-west Rwanda when they detonated a particularly murderous anti-tank mine. This was but one of the eight mine incidents that occurred in Rwanda in March and were reported to the ICRC. In all, at least 40 people were killed in them and another 38 injured. In April, so far, four mine incidents have been reported to the ICRC in Rwanda , involving 15 injuries and 10 deaths

On 16 April, in the Kashmiri city of Srinagar, a mine blast killed two people and wounded at least 15. Meanwhile, on 17 April the NATO-led implementation force paid tribute to Danish Private Arne Andersen, 28, and Lithuanian First Lieutenant Valteris Normundas, 23, both of whom were killed when their vehicle struck a landmine near Doboj , Bosnia. 

 On Tuesday 23 April, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines - which represents over 60 NGOs attending the Review Conference - opened a Wall of Remembrance at the United Nations in Geneva displaying the photographs of some of the 791 persons who have been injured by landmines in Battambang province in  Cambodia  since the first session of the Review Conference was held in Vienna in September-October 1995. Eighty blank spots represented those who were killed during that time.  

At the opening plenary of the Geneva session, ICRC President Cornelio Sommaruga declared that " any compromise that fell short of a ban would be paid for in human flesh and human lives for a very long time " . He said the actions taken at the Conference would decide the fate of the 100,000 landmine victims expected over the next five years.

* Public awareness of the campaign against landmines     

At the initiative of Isopublic Zurich (Switzerland), a member of the Gallup international group conducted - for the first time in its 50-year history - an international mines awareness omnibus survey for the ICRC. The survey was conducted in March 1996. The following are two of the questions put to 20,435 persons in 21 countries:


 Q:  You say you remember seeing or hearing of a campaign to ban anti-personnel mines recently. Can you tell me who you think is responsible for this campaign? (No prompt)  


1 - International Red Cross( including all forms of abbreviations of the Red Cross and the ICRC) 

2 - Red Cross (including all forms of abbreviations as above) 

3 - Incorrect answers 

4 - Don't know 

 Analysis of replies to Question 1 : Red Cross (RC) / specified International Red Cross (IRC)

Bulgaria (45% IRC/82% RC); India (38% IRC/74% RC); Austria (49% IRC/62% RC); Slovakia (42% IRC/52% RC); Czech Republic (31% IRC/28% RC); Ukraine (38% IRC only); Poland (24% IRC/35% RC); Korea (28% IRC/33% RC); Russia (15% IRC/30% RC); Ireland (13% IRC/28% RC); South Africa (18% IRC/28% RC); Japan (20% IRC only); Spain 10% IRC/12% RC); Germany (8% IRC/12% RC); Denmark (8% IRC only); Brazil (5% IRC only); Switzerland (4% IRC only); USA (2% RC only); Italy (2% IRC only); Canada 2% (IRC only).


 Q: In fact, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are running a campaign to encourage an international agreement banning the use of anti-personnel mines. Would you personally be in favour of or against (your country) signing such an international agreement?


1 -In favour

2 -Against 

3 -Don't know

 Analysis of replies to Question 2 (% say in favour vs % against):  

Denmark (92% vs 4%); Spain (91% vs 2%); Switzerland (88% vs 5%); Italy (88% vs 5%); Austria (86% vs 10%; Slovakia (85% vs 2%); Russia (83% vs 4%); India (82% vs 8%); Czech Republic (82% vs 5%); Finland (79% vs 8%); Ukraine (78% vs 2%); Brazil (76% vs 8%); Korea (75% vs 8%); Germany (75% vs 15%); South Africa (74% vs 6%); Canada (73% vs 8%); Ireland (72% vs 1%); Bulgaria (68% vs 2%); Poland (66% vs 5%); USA (60% vs 22%; Japan (58% vs 3%).

In in a message read by the Director-General of United Nations Geneva to the Conference plenary session of 22 April, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali said that "differences of view, no matter how substantial, must not mar the opportunity to keep the issue of landmines on the international agenda and to bring about further progress towards the ultimate goal of the elimination of anti-personnel mines"  He added that this goal would require utmost determination and dedicated pursuit. " We must ban the use of landmines " , he concluded. " We must ban their production. We must destroy those that are stockpiled. We must eliminate landmines once and for all! "

In a briefing to ICRC staff members, Toni Pfanner, head of the organization's Legal Division, said that the current minimalist trend to adopt a revised Protocol based on the lowest possible denominator emphasizes the crucial importance of the campaign to stigmatize the production, use and transfer of these weapons in the public conscience. He said that after the Geneva Conference, stigmatization and public outcry may be the only means left to curb rampant proliferation of anti-personnel mines and compel self-restraints or at best second thoughts in the minds of those who may be tempted to use them. 


 (The following information is not exhaustive; it is based on reports received from a limited number of National Societies and delegations)  

* Denmark  

In conjunction with Danchurch Aid, Save the Children-Denmark and the Danish Refugee Council, the Danish Red Cross organized a public hearing at the Danish Parliament on 25 March 1996. Although the Government had publicly acknowledged its support for a total ban on anti-personnel mines, its remained opposed to renouncing their use. At the Danish hearing an ICRC representative explained why national renunciation of the use of APMs was very desirable. At the opening plenary session in Geneva, the representative of Denmark said that the Government continued to support all steps leading to the eventual elimination of anti-personnel mines. In light of this policy the Danish Minister of Defence decided last month to commission a study on the need for anti-personnel mines in the Danish armed forces. The study, which will take into consideration the ICRC publication " Friend of Foe " , should be released in spring of 1997, in time for a general review of the future organization of the Danish armed forces that year.

Setting forth their political and military lobby, which is currently encountering a degree of resistance, the Danish Red Cross will run a major campaign from 21 May to 21 June. Secretary General Jorgen Poulsen plans to travel to mine-stricken Angola with a team of selected journalists.

* United Kingdom  

The British Red Cross (BRC) has achieved indisputable leadership with a three-year, multifaceted national campaign including a high-profile public relations programme, an effective media thrust and involvement in the ICRC mine-awareness programme in Bosnia and the production of the ICRC's international exhibition. Also scheduled is a major campaign aimed at raising £5 million for mine victims. On 6 March 1996 Sir Richard Attenborough (producer of the award-winning film " Ghandi " ) appealed for the support of the media industry at a private reception hosted by AMV in London. The advertising material has been customized to meet UK cultural requirements and is currently appearing in most national print and television outlets. In March 1996, Sir David Terence Putnam (producer of " The Killing Fields " ) visited Cambodia with a team of journalists from major media organizations. The BRC's high media profile has also included a one-hour special debate on the BBC 1 p rogramme " Heart of the Matter " , four picture stories and a Christmas appeal in the Sunday Times and several special features in other dailies and tabloids. The military study was also widely covered by press and television thanks to efforts by the British Red Cross. The BRC is actively involved in supporting ICRC mine-related activities in Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia and Mozambique. According to BRC Public Affairs, "the Red Cross has stood aside from this more overtly popularized method, and its position is that of the leading authoritative and credible voice on the landmines issue."  

On 23 April at the Review Conference in Geneva, the United Kingdom announced a new policy on anti-personnel mines saying it would start destroying half of its stockpiles and would " with immediate effect lend active support to efforts to agree a total international ban on anti-personnel landmines " .

* Austria  

Members of Parliament from all political parties   met at the Austrian Red Cross in Vienna to discuss the law proposal which had been drafted and circulated by the National Society. According to the Austrian Red Cross, April was declared " mines month " and efforts are being focused on raising public awareness. To this end, 60,000 signatures were collected to support the draft legislation; the print adverts " Good News/Bad News " and " Forget London "   are currently running in major Austrian newspapers. The television spot " Farmer " will be projected for the next three weeks in 35 cinemas all over Austria. Meanwhile, wide and sustained coverage of the issue is reported. " This is how two thousand mines get cleared " was adapted to poster size and distributed i n 3,000 schools and all local Red Cross branches. Once the law proposal has been passed by Parliament, the Austrian campaign will continue with a new emphasis on mines awareness in the former Yugoslavia and fund-raising activities to support the medical and rehabilitation work of the ICRC in mine-stricken countries.

* The United States of America  

This year the American Red Cross will celebrate World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day under the theme " Helping victims of landmines " . All chapters have been provided with an impressive promotion pack comprising a position statement, a news release, a Q & R on landmines, radio announcements, a brochure, poster and ad slicks entitled "A $3.50 landmine changed her life forever... For $100, you can help put it back together".  The primary goals include the expansion of current American Red Cross activities to help mine victims, such as a prosthetic programme in Cambodia, the provision of orthopaedic assistance in Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, and the transfer to the Society by the ICRC of responsibility for the prosthetics programmes in Viet Nam. In addition, the American Red Cross aims to raise public awareness of the humanitarian rules through its education programme on international humanitarian law and through an approach designed for school children. 

At the same time, the American Red Cross intends to carry out a massive mailing to seek free advertising space in all American newspapers and magazines for the following ads: " There are 110 million killers at large " , " Good News and Bad News " and " Activating a landmine takes pressure " , to be jointly signed by the ICRC and ARC. 

According to the New York Times, Gen. John Shalikashvili, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, in March 1996 ord ered a review of the Pentagon's policy on anti-personnel mines, saying he was inclined to back elimination of all anti-personnel landmines. Shortly after the publication of the ICRC-commissioned study on military utility ( " Anti-personnel mines: Friend or Foe " ), an open letter to President Clinton - signed by 15 senior American retired officers including Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Commander of Operation Desert Storm, was published in the New York Times on 3 April. The letter concludes that " the President as Commander-in-Chief could responsibly take the lead in efforts to achieve a total and permanent ban on the production, stockpiling, sale and use of anti-personnel mines " . It strongly urges the President to do so.

* Sweden  

On 29 March, the Swedish Red Cross and Swedish Save the Children hosted a press conference on the military study " Friend or Foe? " . In addition to work aimed at generating wide coverage, the Swedish Red Cross organized a seminar on the ICRC study. According to the National Society, the government, parliament and army are under considerable pressure to end the use of anti-personnel mines by Sweden. A decision is expected to be taken later this year as part of the new five-year plan for reforming the Swedish Army. The Swedish Red Cross said it will continue to lobby and will soon launch a three-phase advocacy campaign. The print, radio and television ads have been customized and translated into Swedish and are expected to run during the forthcoming weeks.

* Australia  

Thanks to a major effort by the Australian Red Cross, the military study " Friend or Foe? " has generated keen interest in the media and Departments of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Trade. 

At the Review Conference in Geneva, Australia reiterated its suppor t for an immediate ban and its own renunciation of use, first announced the week before. The Australian representative stated that " the only sane, humane response is to eliminate them as a weapon of war " and called on other countries to join the movement towards a ban and adopt unilateral measures.

In a report to the ICRC, the Australian Red Cross stated that four of the five television stations had agreed to run the TV spot " Farmer " , as had one of the major cinema chains. Adaptations of the print ads are being produced for newspapers and billboards.

* New Zealand  

On 15 April, the New Zealand Red Cross Society launched a high-profile campaign to draw the attention of the public to the issue of landmines. On 22 April, the Minister of Defence announced that New Zealand was renouncing the operational use of AP mines immediately. The media release further stressed that New Zealand " has been very disappointed in the results to date of the revision of the Inhumane Convention " . At the Review Conference in Geneva, the representative of New Zealand stressed the need for an immediate international ban. 

* Switzerland  

The Swiss Red Cross is preparing to launch its campaign in conjunction with the ICRC. In a recent approach by the Society to all national and local radio stations, the two largest radio outlets in Zurich and Basel have already confirmed that they will play the radio announcement and the TV spot " Farmer " will run in 10 large cinemas throughout Switzerland in the coming weeks. The print ads " Good News " and " Forget London " will be displayed on 2,500 outdoor billboards throughout the country. A major drive for optimal appearances in all print media is being prepared.

* Other countries  

Reports will soon be available on campaign activities occurring in Spain, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Canada, Finland, Bosnia, the Caucasus, the Russian Federation, Guatemala, the Philippines, Jordan and many other countries.

 We welcome campaign situation reports from National Societies and ICRC delegations and will be happy to include them in future updates.  

* International edition  

The ICRC was granted 84 slots for the television spots " Farmer " and " 110 million " on Euronews which are each being aired twice a day from 13 April to 3 May. EBN, CNBC and BBC World have expressed renewed willingness to run an ITC(UK)-friendly version of television spot " Farmer " . Talks are underway with MTV(VIACOM/PARAMOUNT), MCM and CNN to pass the ICRC TV spots. World Radio Geneva showed interest in broadcasting the radio spots when it starts airing in June. Time Magazine and the Financial Times are currently rotating the print ads. Newsweek, Asia Week, the Economist, the International Herald Tribune, Readers'Digest, Wall Street Journal and Business Week have indicated that they will run the second wave of print ads " Fertile Soil " , " Two Thousand Mines " and " Good News " in their various language editions.

International Committee of the Red Cross

Communication Department

Mines Unit

1 May 1996

Ref. UN(1996)17b

Related sections