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Ottawa Conference on anti-personnel mines: a strategy for the total elimination of mines

25-09-1996 News Release 96/38

As an observer with special expertise on the mines issue, the ICRC will be taking an active part in the International Strategy Conference to be held in Ottawa from 3 to 5 October under the auspices of the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This Conference is the first formal meeting of States committed to the total elimination of anti-personnel mines - bringing together all countries that support an immediate ban and are willing to take action at the international, regional and national levels to reach that objective. Since 1993, a total of 43 States have taken such a stand, 25 have already renounced or suspended the use of anti-personnel mines, and 11 have begun destroying their existing stocks. Almost 200 participants and observers - representatives of governments, international agencies and non-governmental organizations - are expected to attend the Ottawa meeting.

 The magnitude and gravity of the mines scourge prompted the ICRC to launch a global awareness-raising campaign in November 1995, with a view to stigmatizing these barbarous weapons in the public conscience. For Ottawa the ICRC plans to use its Web site to show photos taken in Cambodia as the Conference actually proceeds by Tim Page, who won fame as a photographer during the Vietnam war. Page knows the country well and is familiar with its countless vicissitudes. His task will be to inspire the Conference and promote its goals through vivid illustrations of the day-to-day reality of minefields and their consequences for the victims. The novelty of this "Seven days in a minefield" project is that every day the photos will appear on the Web site within hours of Page capturing the scenes on film. National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are being encouraged to set up Web site links so as to create a forum for international dialogue on this photo documentary. The kick-off date is 29 September, and the display will continue through to the end of the Conference on 5 October