Date: Sat, 4 Apr 98 13:27:20 CST
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Final Statement of the ICBL Regional Conference on Landmines
Budapest, Hungary, 28 March 1998
TO: US Campaign to Ban Landmines
The ICBL has been meeting in Budapest, Hungary and below is the final statement from that successful conference. Also, Zimbabwe has ratified the treaty!
Another reminder is that Visions in Action is having a Ban Landmines Rally at Lafayette Park on Friday, April 3, 1998 from 1- 2:30. Speakers from campaign include Loung Ung of VVAF, Caleb Rossiter of DFD, Jim Bridgeman of Peace Action and our own co-chair of the USCBL, Holly Burkhalter. Bring your shoes- we will have a shoe pile to remember the victims of landmines. I look forward to seeing everyone there!
From 26-28 March 1998, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and the Hungarian Campaign to Ban Landmines, in cooperation with the government of Hungary, hosted a regional conference aimed at promoting a comprehensive ban on antipersonnel mines. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) hosted a parallel conference focused on the issue of the military utility of antipersonnel mines. The ICBL and ICRC held joint opening and closing plenary sessions.
The ICBL conference was attended by more than 100 participants from non-governmental organizations in 19 countries from the Baltics to the Balkans, as well as by numerous governmental representatives from the region, Canada, Austria, and Norway. The 19 nations included ten that signed the Ottawa Treaty banning all antipersonnel mines in December 1997 (Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, and Slovenia), eight that have not signed the Ottawa Treaty (Albania, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Ukraine, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) and one, the Former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which has submitted a letter of intent to ratify the treaty.
The opening plenary featured remarks from the Hungarian Foreign Minister, Canadian Foreign Minister, Speaker of the Hungarian Parliament, Norwegian Political State Secretary, the Head of the ICRC Regional Delegation, and Jody Williams of the ICBL, co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.
Fifteen governments from the region made statements. Notably, all of the governments that have not signed the treaty indicated their support for an eventual total ban on antipersonnel mines, and Albania and Latvia indicated their hope to be able to sign the treaty soon. Yugoslavia, a major producer and exporter of mines in the past, stated that it does not now produce or export antipersonnel mines-the first such statement from that government known to the ICBL. Belarus and Ukraine, which have been identified as producers by various sources, likewise stated that they do not manufacture antipersonnel mines. The ICBL awaits definitive statements from all of these governments that they will not produce or export AP mines ever in the future.
The President of Hungary, in an unannounced ceremony, officially signed Hungary's ratification document for the Ottawa Treaty. Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia and Slovenia all indicated that ratification was likely by the summer of this year. Participants of the conference appealed to all parties of the conflict in Kosovo not to use AP landmines.
The ICBL conference included presentations, panels, videos and a slide show on a wide range of mine-related issues, including the Ottawa Treaty, humanitarian demining, mine victim assistance programs, and case studies on the impact of mines in Bosnia, Chechnya, Abkhasia and Croatia. Discussions among the NGOs revealed that, although little known outside of the region, significant pro-ban activities have already been underway in a number of countries, including Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, and Yugoslavia. The Caucusasian Campaign to Ban Landmines will be launched in the near future.
As a result of the conference the ICBL is hopeful that more coordinated action will take place with these and other established campaigns such as those in Bosnia, Croatia, and Hungary, and that new initiatives will be launched in the region. Subsequently, NGOs broke into three groups-one for non-signatory states, one for signatory states, and one for Russia, Chechnya and Abkhasia.-to develop an action plan for the future. Major elements of the plan include:
All participants agreed that they will report back to NGOs throughout their nations on the Budapest Conference and present the materials they have gathered here. Future activities will include writing articles for their newsletters; hosting round-table briefings using the material collected in Budapest; including landmines advocacy in teacher and adult education and textbooks; and including landmines in future conferences, such as the NGO Congress in May in Riga, Latvia, conflict resolution seminar for youth in Prague in June, War Resisters Triennial in Croatia in September. NGOs in the FRY will publish a book on landmine issue in September 1998 to raise public awareness. Rossitsa Ferdinandova of the Tolerance Foundation in Bulgaria has offered to coordinate an NGO information network in the region, receiving information from the ICBL coordinators and disseminating it by email. There is a need for financial resources to translate, reproduce, and distribute materials.
Participants agreed to contact media and give them information from the Budapest Conference. NGOs in the Czech Republic will approach Radio Free Europe.
NGOs will contact their governments as a follow-up to the Budapest Conference to discuss their country's position. This will occur prior to the ICBL/IPPNW Conference in Moscow on 27 May.
Specific events coming up include: May 1998: Moscow conference. Jointly organized by IPPNW and the ICBL the objectives of this conference will be to engage key Russian political, military, and health officials, as well as NGOs in a discussion of the mine issue, to mobilize public opinion to support a total ban, to catalyze the formation of NGO campaigns in the region, and encourage Russia and states of the FSU to sign the Ottawa Treaty and take domestic steps to eliminate mines.
Participants interested in attending agreed to follow-up with the Moscow conference organizers. Participants in the region would like to organize events in their own countries around this conference, such as postcard campaign to Russia, letters and visits to Russian embassies in their countries, ringing church bells or sounding sirens every 20 minutes to symbolize someone stepping on a landmine, sound on the radio every 20 minutes, or listing the countries who have not yet signed.
June 1998: Yugoslav Campaign organizing a round-table meeting on landmines in Belgrade.
August 1998: Landmine Survivors Network and Bosnia Campaign organizing National conference in Bosnia, one year anniversary since Princess Diana's trip to Bosnia
Other proposed events included:
September 1998 Albania Campaign proposed a week of action on landmines for between 31 August, one year since when Princess Diana died, and the following week, when Albanian-born Mother Theresa died.
Ban Bus in Bosnia; Soccer games with disabled teams from abroad in Bosnia. dan