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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Africa: Maputo Landmines Conference

Africa: Maputo Landmines Conference
Date distributed (ymd): 990505
Document reposted by APIC

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Continent-Wide
Issue Areas: +security/peace+ +US policy focus+
Summary Contents:
This posting contains excerpts from press releases from the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, on the occasion of the First Meeting of States Parties to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, taking place in Maputo, Mozambique, as well as a recent factsheet on landmines and Africa.

For additional resources on landmines see the listing on the web site of the International Campaign ( For a variety of earlier documents on landmines in Africa see the Africa Policy web site

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For more information or to schedule an interview contact the ICBL at the NGO Secretariat, +258-1-499-765 * Mary Wareham, mobile: +27-82-858-5098 * Liz Bernstein, mobile: +258-(0)82-309-195

International Campaign to Ban Landmines PO Box 2189
Maputo, Mozambique
Tel 258 1 49 39 81/2
Fax 258 1 49 39 80

(Maputo: 3 May 1999) At the opening of the First Meeting of States Parties to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) hailed the very substantial progress that has been made toward eradicating the weapon as evidenced by its Landmine Monitor Report 1999. The ICBL also condemned continued users of antipersonnel landmines since the ban treaty was signed in December 1997, including Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and Yugoslavia.

The good news is that "the world is clearly embracing the new, emerging international standard against the antipersonnel mine," said Jody Williams, co-recipient with the ICBL of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. To date, the Mine Ban Treaty has been signed by 135 nations and ratified by 77. "While the ICBL condemns any use of antipersonnel mines, it is particularly appalled at the disregard for their international commitments by treaty signatories the government of Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal," said Williams. The ICBL also expressed alarm at the renewed use of antipersonnel mines by UNITA, the opposition force in Angola, and by the government of Yugoslavia, which has not signed the treaty. "People everywhere are sickened by reports of Yugoslav atrocities against civilians; regrettably the use of mines will mean many, many more civilians will die or be injured even after the horror of this war comes to an end," said Williams.

"Despite these instances of continued use, overall we have seen a distinct decrease in use, production, transfer and stockpiling of antipersonnel mines globally as the norm established by the ban treaty begins to take effect," said Williams. The number of mine victims is decreasing in high-risk places such as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Cambodia, Mozambique, and Somaliland. Approximately 12 million antipersonnel mines have been destroyed from the stockpiles of 30 nations--mines that now can never find their way into the ground. At least 38 nations have stopped production of antipersonnel mines, while just 16 producers remain. There is no evidence of significant exports of antipersonnel mines by any nation in recent years, and Iraq is the only known past exporter that has not at least publicly declared a halt to mine shipments.

These conclusions are drawn from the ICBL's 1,100-page Landmine Monitor Report 1999: Toward a Mine-Free World, which was presented to governments during the opening plenary of the diplomatic conference, where the ICBL has official observer status. This unprecedented and unique book contains information on every country in the world with respect to mine use, production, trade, stockpiling, humanitarian demining and mine survivor assistance. (See separate Landmine Monitor press advisory).

The ICBL noted that there has been a significant increase in global pledges to and spending on mine action since the treaty signing in December 1997, and that a number of important new initiatives and programs are underway but it expressed concern that too little money appears to be actually reaching the field and resulting in mines being quickly detected and destroyed. The ICBL also raised concerns that too much funding is going to research and development programs for demining technologies and equipment that may have limited relevance to immediate needs on the ground and called on governments to support current methods of mine clearance and allocate more funds for proven current methods.

"More must be done to ensure demined land is used by those who really need it," said Tun Channareth, a Cambodian landmine survivor and ICBL Ambassador. "Demined land must help the mine-affected communities, and not the politicians, police chiefs, province governors and military commanders." Jerry White, an American landmine survivor and chair of the ICBL Working Group on Victim Assistance, said, "We need to help survivors and implement programs now. The ICBL calls on governments to provide up to $3 billion over the next ten years to support effective assistance programs in mine-affected countries." In Maputo, the ICBL introduced its new "Guidelines for the Care and Rehabilitation of Survivors."


The ICBL called on the recalcitrant states that have refused to join the treaty to accede to it now. "It is unconscionable for some governments to continue to insist that their militaries must use this weapon whose victims are nearly always civilians," said Elizabeth Bernstein, ICBL Cocoordinator. While welcoming rapid progress made in ratifying the ban treaty, which resulted in entry into force on 1 March 1999 -- more quickly than any major treaty in history -- the ICBL also called on all states that have not yet ratified to do so as soon as possible, and to abide by the terms of the treaty until their ratification process is completed. The ICBL noted that only a relatively small number of the states parties (governments that have signed and ratified) have enacted domestic legislation implementing the treaty. The ICBL called on all states parties to do so quickly, including imposing penal sanctions for treaty violations.

The ICBL also expressed concern that the United States has indicated that it reserves the right to use antipersonnel mines in the Kosovo conflict. All of the NATO nations except the United States and Turkey have signed the Mine Ban Treaty. "There should be a NATO-wide policy of no use of antipersonnel mines in joint operations," said Williams. "Treaty signatories should not have to fight alongside allied forces that use antipersonnel mines." The Kosovo operation has heightened the ICBL's concerns about U.S. mines that are stored in NATO countries that have signed the treaty (Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Spain, and United Kingdom) and the possibility of U.S. transit of antipersonnel mines through those, or other signatory, countries for the purpose of war fighting. The ICBL believes such transit would constitute a treaty violation.

Landmine Campaign Releases Unique, Ground- Breaking Report: Landmine Monitor Report 1999: Toward a Mine-Free World

(Maputo, Mozambique: 3 May 1999) At the opening of the First Meeting of States Parties to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) presented to government delegates and the public the first report of its Landmine Monitor initiative: a 1,100 page book, titled Landmine Monitor Report 1999: Toward a Mine-Free World. The report is the most comprehensive book to date on the global landmine situation, containing information on every country in the world with respect to mine use, production, trade, stockpiling, humanitarian demining and mine survivor assistance. A 49-page Executive Summary is also available. [See]

Landmine Monitor is an unprecedented initiative by the ICBL to monitor implementation of and compliance with the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, and more generally to assess the efforts of the international community to resolve the landmines crisis. Its reports are timed for release to the annual meetings of states parties to the ban treaty. It is the first time that nongovernmental organizations are coming together in a
coordinated, systematic and sustained way to monitor a humanitarian law or disarmament treaty, and to regularly document progress and problems.


Landmine Monitor's eighty researchers in more than 100 countries collected information in very short period and further conclusions will be drawn from the data collected. Landmine Monitor is largely based on in-country research, collected by in-country researchers, utilizing the ICBL's network of 1,300 non-governmental organizations working in over 80 countries, but also drawing on other elements of civil society to help monitor and report, including journalists, academics and research institutions. The book also includes appendices with reports from major actors in the mine ban movement, such as key governments, UN agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The ICBL received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to eradicate antipersonnel mines and its Landmine Monitor initiative is coordinated by a "Core Group" of five organizations already very active in the ICBL: Human Rights Watch, Handicap International, Kenya Coalition Against Mines, Mines Action Canada, and Norwegian People's Aid.

Factsheet: Africa and Landmines

AFRICA: Anti-landmines Campaign

EVENT: The first conference of the government signatories of the 1997 Ottawa Landmine Ban Treaty will be in Maputo, Mozambique, on May 3- 7.

SIGNIFICANCE: African countries have played a leading role in the global anti-landmines campaign. Despite this, the continent remains the most mine-affected area of the world.

ANALYSIS: The Ottawa Landmine Ban Treaty was signed in December 1997, following a year-long process of diplomatic conferences in Vienna, Brussels and Oslo where an increasing number of governments came to support the concept of a global ban on anti-personnel mines (APMs). A total of 122 countries signed the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction. Although major powers, such as the United States, China and Russia, refused to sign, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called the treaty "a landmark step in the history of disarmament" and expressed his belief that it would provide the final impetus for a universal ban, encompassing all mine-producing and mine-affected countries.

The treaty entered into force on March 1 this year, six months after the 40th ratification (by Burkina Faso), which made it binding international law; by March 31, 135 countries had signed it and 71 had ratified it. For the first 40 countries to ratify it, they are required to: report to Annan on their implementation measures by September 1 this year, destroy their stockpiles by March 1, 2003 and destroy mines in the ground in their territory by March 1, 2009.

First monitoring report. The 1997-Nobel Prize winning NGO coalition International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) played an important role in the Ottawa process. The ICBL has just completed its first Landmine Monitor Annual Report, which will be released at the first 'state parties' meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, on May 3-7. The report has been coordinated by five NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, Norwegian People's Aid and Handicap International. This initiative is a unique feature of the Ottawa treaty -- while NGOs and research institutes have in the past monitored compliance with treaties individually or informally, this is the first attempt to create a systematic, civil society- based monitoring network for an international agreement.

According to the report, Africa remains the most landmine-affected continent in the world. In Africa, 43 countries have signed the convention and 17 have ratified it, including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia. However, although Africa has played an important role in the global anti-landmine campaign, there are still a number of serious problems:

  1. Non signatory countries. Still, a number of African countries have not signed up for the treaty. This reflects in part current conflict fault lines in the continent:
    • The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC, formerly Zaire) and Congo-Brazzaville have seen political and military chaos throughout the Ottawa process and have not signed yet.
    • The Comoros, Liberia and the Central African Republic, all of which have a troubled recent history, are also outside the treaty.
    • In Nigeria, which is close to completing a rushed transition to civilian rule, there are signs that the new government will consider signing the treaty. However, the country's regional politico-military interests, which it has pursued throughout the 1990s under the flag of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), may well prelude a decision in favour of Ottawa until Nigerian forces are extricated from war-torn Sierra Leone.
    • Eritrea has not signed the treaty. Since independence from post-revolutionary Ethiopia in 1993, Eritrea has pursued a steadily more belligerent foreign and defence policy, both for domestic political and legitimate defence reasons. Given the continued border war between the two countries, neither is likely to sign the treaty soon.
    • In North Africa, Egypt, Libya and Morocco have not signed the treaty. These three countries are contaminated by landmines and also maintain significant stockpiles. Egypt and Morocco have been hostile to the Ottawa process, although in the Organisation of African Unity context, they feel increasingly isolated. Egypt remains Africa's last producer of APMs.
  2. Signatories still using mines. The report finds a number of Ottawa signatories in Africa responsible for using new landmines, including Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Senegal. In the case of Guinea-Bissau, the peace deal signed last November between President Joao Bernardo Vieira and army rebels has allowed for a special commission to be set up to supervise the clearance of around 5,000 landmines laid during the conflict. In the context of the war in the DRC, there are also allegations that other signatories and ratifiers are using mines since December 1997, including Rwanda, Uganda and Zimbabwe, but these have not being confirmed and have being denied by the respective governments.
  3. Rebel use of landmines. A number of rebel groups have also used landmines in Africa since the Ottawa Treaty. Fresh mines have been laid in Angola by UNITA and in Uganda by the Lord's Resistance Army , as well as in Djibouti, Somalia and, possibly, in Senegal by the separatist Mouvement des forces democratiques de la Casamance
  4. Destruction of stockpiles. Many of the mines still being used are from old stocks, indicating why the destruction of stockpiles is such an urgent priority. Stockpiles of mines have already been destroyed in Guinea-Bissau, Mali and South Africa. South Africa, along with Uganda and Zimbabwe, have also reported that they have closed down their APM production.
  5. Clearance of landmines. Complementary to the Landmines Ban Treaty are international efforts to clear areas contaminated over the last 50 years. Landmines are estimated to kill or injure more than 25,000 people worldwide each year. However, the global impact of landmines in not known, with vastly differing estimates from the UN's 110 million mines in the ground to recent suggestions of just over 2 million. Estimates for time needed to eradicate landmines vary also -- 1,000 years at 20.5 billion pounds (dollars) according to the UN to 10-15 years at a cost of millions of dollars according to the EU. As more becomes known through national surveys, more accurate forecasts will become possible.

In Africa, landmines were first laid during World War II, leaving Egypt today as one of the most mine infested countries in the world. In Africa, apart from Egypt, Angola and Zimbabwe are probably the most affected, closely followed by Mozambique, Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia. In the case of Sudan, landmines have killed or injured an estimated 70,000 people in the past 15 years of civil war, and there are still 500,000-2 million mines planted across the country. In the case of Angola and Mozambique, landmine victims also run into thousands. A number of other countries such as Burundi, Chad, Rwanda, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal, Western Sahara, Morocco and Uganda also have a serious mine problem. A report from Handicap International estimates that 500 persons were killed or injured by mines in Senegal between August 1997 and August 1998 in the region of Casamance. This figure is high considering that the province's population totals only 250,000.

According to the ICBL, some 10 million landmines have been destroyed in the last couple of years owing to the campaign. Mine clearance operations are underway in many African countries, with the largest operations being in Angola, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. In Mozambique, the government claims to have destroyed more than 60,000 landmines and other explosive devices since a clearance programme began in 1993. In the case of Angola, demining operations in some areas have stopped due to the resurgence of conflict. However, success will not only depend on countries' willingness to sign, ratify and comply with the treaty, but also on the mobilisation of resources at the national and international levels. Canada has so far pledged to provide 100 million Canadian dollars (64 million US dollars) over five years, while other countries have pledged large sums to fund rehabilitation and demining programmes. The United States, despite not being a signatory, is aiming to raise 1 billion dollars per year from public and private sources for the international demining effort.

CONCLUSION: Over the next year, more countries will sign the treaty to ease NGO and international pressures, although a small number of African countries are likely to drag their feet on ratification believing that landmines are a legitimate weapon.

This material is being reposted for wider distribution by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen the policy debate in the United States around African issues and the U.S. role in Africa, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.

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