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New York: UN Security Council invites ICRC to speak on anti-personnel mines

22-08-1996 News Release 96/33

For the first time in its history, the ICRC recently agreed to take part in a UN Security Council debate in New York. The topic under discussion was indeed a crucial one: on 15 August the President of the Council, the German ambassador, officially submitted the problem of anti-personnel mines to the Member States. In spite of the disappointing results achieved during the latest session of the Review Conference of the 1980 United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, held in Geneva in May, the international community has clearly refused to give up the struggle.

Apart from the members of the Security Council, the representatives of some 20 other countries and the ICRC expressed their views on the medical, social and economic impact of the use of mines, and on the dangers involved in mine-clearing operations. The ICRC stressed the unspeakable human suffering and the extent of the damage caused by these sinister weapons. The institution has invested considerable efforts in promoting the development of legal instruments providing for the protection of civilians in the face of this growing scourge.

In his address to the Council, Peter Küng, the ICRC head of delegation to the United Nations in New York, said that the institution was convinced of the inherently indiscriminate nature of anti-personnel mines, which rendered them particularly inhumane; these weapons should therefore be outlawed, as poison gas was in 1925.

While continuing to work towards a ban on the production, storage, transfer and use of landmines, and p ursuing its efforts to stigmatize the u se of these weapons in the public conscience, the ICRC warmly welcomes the regional and national initiatives being taken by a growing number of States towards this end. Particular mention should be made of the Canadian government's invitation to countries which unilaterally support a ban - and have announced moratoria on the use of mines - to participate in an international conference to be held in Ottawa on 3 October. The next session of the UN General Assembly is due to consider a draft resolution calling on States to negotiate an international agreement providing for a worldwide and total ban on these weapons.