Date: Wed, 1 Nov 1995 23:51:02 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>
Subject: Land mines conference self-destructs
/** wri.news: 265.0 **/
** Topic: Mines conference self-destructs **
** Written 9:06 PM Oct 24, 1995 by gn:peacenews in cdp:wri.news **
After three weeks' wrangling in Vienna, government experts reached an impasse in negotiations to strengthen the landmines protocol of the Convention on Conventional Weapons. The meeting apparently will reconvene 11-20 December in Geneva. The INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO BAN LANDMINES monitored the conference, and despaired at what it saw.
Public opinion is clearly calling for a ban on landmines. At the beginning of the review conference, amputees from several countries presented the Review Conference with 1.7 million signatures from people in 53 countries calling for a complete and total ban.
Yet the delegates did not concern themselves with the humanitarian cost of the 100 million landmines contaminating 64 countries around the world.
In the three weeks while delegates struggled to protect their own stockpiles of landmines, more than 1,600 people around the world were killed or maimed by landmines.
In the three weeks while delegates manoeuvred to avoid creating a mechanism to ensure compliance with the laws that they themselves are formulating, 243 more people in Cambodia were wounded by landmines and 36 were killed.
Yet, even though most governments and their militaries are united in their desire to protect their landmines, they could not reach consensus on how to achieve that goal and still project the image of having come together to change the law because of the humanitarian crisis caused by landmines.
It has been impossible for governments meeting in Vienna to reach that consensus. This demonstrates the increasing pressure on governments to outlaw landmines -- already considered by many to be an outlaw weapon.
Between now and the next negotiating session in Geneva, 4,333 more people will be killed or maimed by landmines. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines calls upon governments to include in their delegations relief and development experts who can contribute their expertise in the next round of negotiations in Geneva -- short of that, members of the delegations should visit a mine-infested country before December.
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines calls upon these governments when they reconvene in Geneva to write a meaningful law banning anti-personnel landmines. To amend the landmines protocol to protect the millions of civilians who live with the lethal legacy of that indiscriminate weapon -- not to protect the weapons that do the killing.
TIM CARSTAIRS of the UK Working Group on Landmines adds: In brief, the Inhumane Weapons Convention review ended in a stand-off. States from the South would not accept the Western technological solution of self-destruct and self-deactivating mines which would inevitably cost a great deal more than "conventional" mines. The Western bloc in turn would not agree to inexpensive transfer of the technology needed to manufacture such "smart" mines. It was perhaps a no-win situation in Vienna. It is most certainly a no-win situation for the people of Cambodia, Angola ...
Under the pretence of a humanitarian treaty, states were eager to find exemptions for their own mine systems: the British with their "Ranger" system; the Austrians and the USA with the Claymore; and other countries with their non-detectable mines. In addition, the US and UK delegations offered an outrageous, and highly contested failure rate of 1 in 1,000 for self-destruct mines. No such system exists, and neither of the "promoter" states seemed prepared to prove what they advanced.
The Western states are inclined to blame certain countries -- India, China, Pakistan -- for blocking progress, but forget that their own positions were probably equally to blame.
International Campaign to Ban Landmines, 1347 Upper Dummerston Rd, Brattleboro VT 05301 USA (tel +1 802 254 8807; fax 254 8808) UK Working Group on Landmines, 601 Holloway Rd, London N19 4DJ (tel/fax 01296 632056)