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Anti-personnel Mines: What Future for Southern Africa?

23-04-1997 Statement

Regional Seminar for States of the Southern Africa Development Community sponsored by the International Committee of the Red Cross in cooperation with the Organisation of African Unity and the Republic of Zimbabwe, Harare, 21-23 April 1997: Final Declaration of Participants

(representing: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia,

South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe)

Defence and foreign affairs officials from all 12 States of the Southern Africa Development Community gathered in Harare to consider the human, social and economic costs of anti-personnel mines in Southern Africa and throughout the world. Participants examined the military effectiveness of these weapons, the practical difficulties of their actual use and mine clearance. The seminar sought to develop recommendations for a common response in Southern Africa to the humanitarian crisis caused by landmines. The following statement was adopted by the participants.

 Participants in the seminar "Anti-personnel Landmines: What Future for Southern Africa ?" agree that:  

1. the global scourge of landmines, which kill and injure some 2,000 persons per month, most of whom are civilians, is unacceptable and must be stopped. Mines indiscriminately kill and maim civilians and combatants alike, and continue to do so long after conflicts end, which is a cause of grave concern;

2. since 1,100 years will be required, at the current rate, to clear the world of mines currently in the ground, parties to conflicts should not add to this burden through new deployments of anti-personnel mines;

3. those who have used and those who have supplied anti-personnel mines bear a joint responsibility to ensure the clearance of these weapons and the provision of adequate care to their victims;

4. the limited military utility of anti-personnel mines is far outweighed by the appalling humanitarian consequences of their use in actual conflicts;

5. resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly resolution (A/51/45S) calling for a new global treaty banning anti-personnel mines and of the Organisation of African Unity (CM/res.1593, LXII) calling for the total prohibition of these weapons should be urgently implemented throughout the continent;

6. the presence of an estimated 20 million mines in Southern Africa, one fifth of those in the world, represents a direct threat to the health, welfare and survival of many millions of people in the region; and

7. anti-personnel mines constitute a major obstacle to post-conflict reconstruction and development in Southern Africa.

 Participants call upon States of the Southern Africa Development Community to take the following steps, on the national, regional and global levels, towards ending the scourge of anti-personnel mines:

1. to launch an initiative, in the context of the Southern Africa Development Community, for the establishment of a regional zone free of anti-personnel mines;

2. in this context to establish within the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security a Sub-Committee on Landmines supported by a working group of experts to promote and coordinate as a matter of urgency:

a. planning of humanitarian mine clearance;

b. training of mine clearance personnel;

c. technological cooperation to facilitate more rapid and cost effective clearance operations in the region;

d. adoption of a SADC code of ethics and standards for humanitarian mine clearance (quality assurance);

e. mine awareness campaign programs;

f. support of national programs for victim assistance;

g. creation of a SADC data bank on landmine matters; and

h. funding for humanitarian mine clearance, victim assistance, rehabilitation programs and mine awareness;

3. to immediately end all new deployments of anti-personnel mines and to establish national prohibitions, such as those already adopted in the region, on their production, stockpiling, transfer and use;

4. for those States which are not yet Parties, to adhere to the 1980 United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, including its Protocol II on landmines (as amended on 3 May 1996); for current States party to this Convention to adhere to its amended Protocol II at the earliest possible date to ensure its early entry into force;

5. to participate actively in the Conference of the Organisation of African Unity on " A Landmine Free Africa: The OAU and the Legacy of Anti-personnel Mines " to be held in Johannesburg from 19-21 May 1997 and to take into account there the results of this seminar;

6. to promote the strongest possible resolution on anti-personnel mines at the OAU Summit Meeting in Harare from 2-4 June 1997; and

7. to declare, at an early date, that they will participate actively in the Brussels Conference (24-26 June 1997) of the Ottawa Group of States supporting a global ban and officially to endorse there the conclusion of a new treaty comprehensively prohibit ing the production, stockpiling, transfer and use of anti-personnel mines to be signed by the end of 1997.

 Participants appeal to the international community , including governments, international agencies and non-governmental organisations to assist the Southern Africa region in becoming permanently free of the scourge of anti-personnel mines, in particular through the provision of technical, financial and other assistance in the clearance and destruction of mines, assistance to victims and mine awareness programs.

 Participants express their thanks to the International Committee of the Red Cross for convening the seminar, and for its ongoing efforts on behalf of war victims in many of the countries of the region, to the Organisation of African Unity for its active leadership on the mines issue in Africa and to the Republic of Zimbabwe for its generous hospitality in hosting them in Harare.

Harare, 23 April 1997

 Ref. LG 1997-115-ENG