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ICRC welcomes entry into force of UN Protocol restricting the use of landmines

05-06-1998 News Release 98/23

Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) welcomes the twentieth ratification, on 3 June 1998, of amended Protocol II to the 1980 United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. The latest ratification, by the government of Lithuania, means that this instrument of international humanitarian law will enter into force on 3 December 1998. Amended Protocol II, which was adopted in 1996 after three years of negotiations, restricts the use and transfer of all landmines and the use of booby-traps and other explosive devices. The failure of States to agree on more stringent restrictions on anti-personnel mines led to the negotiation in 1997 of the Ottawa treaty, which bans the development, use, stockpiling, production and transfer of these indiscriminate weapons.

Although the ICRC considers that adherence to the Ottawa treaty is a top priority, it continues to encourage States to ratify amended Protocol II because this text also restricts the use and transfer of landmines, anti-tank mines and other weapons not covered by the Ottawa treaty.  The ICRC is particularly concerned about the potential consequences in humanitarian terms that would arise from the widespread and irresponsible use of remotely delivered anti-tank mines. In addition, for those States not yet prepared to ban anti-personnel mines outright, Protocol II as amended represents a step forward as compared with the original text adopted in 1980.