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The prohibition of such weapons should be considered carefully, since a ban under present circumstances might lead to the production of illegal and more barbarous land-mines, said the representative of the Russian Federation. It should be examined separately as it was being considered in such other forums as the Review Conference of States Parties to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects. The Convention, which entered into force in December 1983, deals with land-mines, booby traps and other devices under Protocol II. The Protocol was amended at last May's Review Conference to include new curbs on the use, production and transfer of anti-personnel land-mines by, for instance, banning the use of non-detectable models. Protocol I deals with the use of non- detectable fragments; Protocol III, with incendiary weapons; and Protocol IV deals with blinding laser weapons. Other issues related to land-mines should be considered in other United Nations bodies since the Council was discussing demining only in the context of peace-keeping, China's representative said. The international community and Member States should provide human and financial support for demining. The world community should consider introducing penalties to ensure that belligerents marked and mapped out their minefields in order to ease the demining that followed in the wake of peace, Botswana's representative said. Governments and countries that exported mines should be discouraged with the threat of serious consequences, including sanctions, added the representative of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The United Kingdom's representative said that demining might not always be necessary and, in some circumstances, the premature removal of minefields might add to instability. In all cases, the parties must guarantee that they would desist from further mine-laying once a peace-keeping operation has been established. He questioned the proposed establishment of a demining stand-by force, which would keep designated equipment or facilities idle until they were required at short notice for deployment. For the past 10 years, Chile had observed a moratorium on the production and export of anti-personnel land-mines, its representative said, adding that a summary of today's proposals should be prepared to serve efforts to tackle the problem of anti-personnel land-mines. Statements were also made by the representatives of Italy, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Honduras, France, Poland, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Canada, New Zealand, and Ireland which spoke on behalf of the European Union as well as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Iceland. Also speaking were the representatives of Nicaragua, Japan, Norway, Uruguay, Pakistan, Ukraine, Croatia, Colombia, Hungary, Iran, India, Argentina and Panama. The observer for Switzerland also spoke. The meeting, resumed at 3:30 p.m., was adjourned at 6:30 p.m.
Council Work Programme
The Security Council met this morning to discuss the issue of demining in the context of the United Nations peace-keeping.
FRANCESCO PAOLO FULCI (Italy) said mines were "an instrument of barbarity rather than war, of revenge rather than defence". Their primary victims were innocent civilians, including children. The toll of mines obstructed reconciliation, reconstruction and the reintegration of refugees. Italy paid tribute to those who had led the fight against land-mines, including United States Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont.
Italy had joined the moratorium on the export of anti-personnel land- mines in 1993, and the following year it ceased production of those weapons. He said his country supported the extension of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons to every type of conflict, and was convinced that a binding verification mechanism was needed for every aspect of implementation.
He noted that the Secretary-General had stressed two main goals for demining in the context of peace-keeping: providing a secure environment for peace-keeping forces and personnel; and implementing wider mandates, such as elections and freedom of movement, that require huge mine-clearance programmes. Mines were a grave danger for peace-keeping forces; some 60 had been killed by them and another 213 had been wounded. "To prevent such casualties, we need not only more sophisticated equipment, but also and above all better training focused on detection, recognition and reporting."
Experience showed that, for demining activities to succeed, peace- keeping and humanitarian assistance must be closely coordinated, he went on. More resources should be allocated for demining programmes. For its part, Italy had hosted training courses for Egyptian, Pakistani and Kuwaiti personnel. It had also contributed financially to mine-clearance in a variety of war-torn regions.
KARL INDERFUTH (United States) said that some 64 countries were affected by the land-mines crisis, with more than 110 million of those weapons currently in existence and uncleared. Mines killed or maimed about 500 people weekly or 26,000 yearly. They had become the weapons of choice for many governments and other groups as they were cheap, could be used as weapons of terror, disrupted the return of civilians and hampered peace-keeping operations. Such cases included Bosnia and Herzegovina, where more than 2 to 3 million land-mines had been planted, causing more than 200 United Nations peace-keeping casualties. Others were Afghanistan, Angola and Mozambique. Mines impeded United Nations patrols and delayed the delivery of humanitarian operations. They had claimed some NATO Implementation Force (IFOR) casualties, also. Land-mines had recently claimed some more lives in Angola
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-- a country with about 10 million unexploded land-mines, weapons which had claimed thousands of lives and maimed others. The United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia (UNOMIG) had been delayed by the threat of land-mines, which had claimed the lives of some United Nations personnel, local civilians and members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) peace-keeping efforts. Mines had been laid where they blocked civilian activities.
The representative said that combatants were known for not removing their land-mines. Most land-mine-plagued countries were not party to Protocol II of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which dealt with land-mines, booby traps and other devices. The United States had supported various activities to help with demining and had encouraged local efforts to develop demining capacities. It had spent about $91 million since 1993 to help with training programmes in 14 countries. It was committing $15 million towards the establishment of demining programmes in fiscal year 1997. It would provide $50 million to help with research and development and demining assistance programmes in several countries.
Demining assistance was critical but was not enough, he continued. The weapons must be banned. The United States would continue to lead the effort to eliminate anti-personnel land-mines. The President of the United States had called on nations of the world to join the United States in concluding an agreement to reduce the number of mines and their availability. He had called for Member States to adopt an export moratorium, an effort that had been joined by 32 nations. A global prohibition of the use of land-mines would only succeed with the leadership of all Security Council members and the support of Member States. The United States would propose a resolution on the matter in the next session of the General Assembly, urging all States to start negotiating an international agreement to achieve a world-wide ban.
QIN HUASUN (China) The large number of land-mines in use across the world have hampered United Nations peace-keeping operations and posed a serious threat to the safety of United Nations peace-keeping personnel, the local people and economic reconstruction. Demining is a time-consuming process which called for close cooperation by all parties concerned. The international community and Member States should provide the necessary human, financial and material support for demining in the context of United Nations peace-keeping. The training of local personnel for demining should also be speeded up. While the issue before the Council today was demining in the context of peace-keeping, other issues related to land-mines fell under the category of disarmament and should be discussed by other United Nations bodies.
NUGROHO WISNUMURTI (Indonesia) said the involvement of peace-keeping forces in mine clearance did not in itself warrant a shift of responsibility on that issue from the General Assembly to the Council. The gravity of the problem was self-evident, with more than 20,000 people being killed or maimed by mines in 1995 alone. Considering that some 85 to 100 million mines
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remained to be cleared, "it seems that humanitarian tragedies are just waiting to happen". Indeed, the problem continued to grow; in 1995, if 100,000 mines had been removed, another 2 to 5 million had been newly laid. The loss of lives and destitution suffered during years of debilitating conflicts were only perpetuated by the presence of mines, which threatened all aspects of civilian life. The obstruction to national reconciliation that mines caused was a long-term problem.
Indonesia welcomed the decisions of a number of States to impose a moratorium or a ban on the production, export and use of mines, he said. The review process of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons offered the appropriate means for dealing with land-mines and related devices. Demining was a long-term and expensive process. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) estimated that it would cost $33 billion to rid the world of land-mines. In that light, support for the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Clearance was critical.
The link between peace-keeping operations and humanitarian programmes in the area of mine clearance was vital, he went on. The Department of Humanitarian Affairs should coordinate the work of all agencies involved in mine clearance. "It remains important that mine-clearance activities in the context of peace-keeping operations are linked closely to the humanitarian activities from the very beginning to ensure a coordinated approach to the land-mine problem and the continuation of mine-related activities following the end of the peace-keeping mandate."
Stating that the technology available in the area of mine clearance was outdated, he called for research into new technologies. "The disastrous effects of land-mines can be curbed through technical and financial assistance to demining activities and programmes. For this to materialize, international consensus and concerted political will among the Member States of the global community is imperative."
PARK SOO GIL (Republic of Korea) said land-mines were used in an indiscriminate and brutal manner against civilians. Mines laid during a conflict remained dangerous long after the guns fell silent. As one observer had noted, land-mines were weapons of mass destruction in slow motion. The average anti-personnel mine cost some $3 to produce and $1,000 to remove. Land-mines were being laid faster than they could be removed. Coping with that scourge would require the international community to address the supply side of the equation, including through restrictions on production and export, as well as modifications in design such as the inclusion of self-neutralizing timers. The Republic of Korea had adopted its own year-long moratorium on land-mine exports last year.
It was also important to focus on the "end-user" side of the equation, he said. The vast majority of peace-keeping missions launched since the end of the cold war had been in response to intra-State conflicts, and it was in
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those conflicts that land-mine emplacement was particularly widespread. Land- mines endangered peace-keepers, as well as civilians, and stood in the way of the implementation of peace-keeping mandates such as the distribution of humanitarian aid, repatriation of refugees, or the holding of fair elections.
It was critical to ensure that demining was made an integral part of United Nations peace-keeping operations, he continued. The Council should review the scope of the mandates of existing peace-keeping operations in order to ensure that authorization for demining was adequately provided for. Equally important were efforts to nourish indigenous capacity for safe, fast and effective mine clearance. Before leaving a given area, peace-keepers should transfer their repository of demining experience to the host country. Beyond peace-keeping operations, the United Nations should provide ad hoc demining assistance whenever the need arose. It would be worthwhile to explore how to strengthen the Organization's stand-by capacity, as well as the Voluntary Trust Fund. "We must help mine-ridden nations, particularly those in the developing world, to help themselves shake off this danger, so that civilians can once again farm their fields and walk the roads of their country without fear."
GERARDO MARTINEZ BLANCO (Honduras) said that the production and export of land-mines worsened the humanitarian situation in many parts of the world. The international community should support efforts to develop mine-clearance capacities and try to prohibit the use of such weapons. He paid tribute to activities of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs, other United Nations bodies and some non-governmental organizations, such as the ICRC, for their work in countering the effects of land-mines. Efforts to achieve peace and security should focus not only on security-related and humanitarian activities but also those that promoted development. That view was reflected in peace- keeping missions which now included efforts to reconstruct national infrastructures and the undertaking of economic activities.
Many missions also included mine-clearing activities which were necessary to restore economic activities, the delivery of humanitarian assistance and the return of refugees, he stated. Mine clearance was necessary for the consolidation of peace in countries that were ending their conflicts. The inclusion of mine clearance in peace-keeping helped create safe environments. Honduras supported the inclusion of such activities as part of peace-keeping operations. Demining, while helpful, was not enough: those weapons should be banned; that would be the sole solution to the humanitarian crises caused by the explosion of such weapons.
YURIY FEDOTOV (Russian Federation) said demining was becoming an indispensable part of United Nations peace-keeping missions and those of some regional bodies. The role of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs as a centre for coordinating activities related to demining should be retained. But the relationship between that work of that department in demining related to humanitarian activities and the work of the Department of Peace-keeping
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Operations in that regard should be clarified. Standard rules on demining and central databases should be encouraged. The Russian Federation was concluding a special programme on demining. Technical assistance was important. In the process of peace-keeping in the territory of the CIS, some experience had been gained. The demining activities in Abkhazia were trying to remove some impediments to the mandates of UNOMIG and other peace-keeping missions.
On the question of a full ban, he said that issue should be considered separately as it was being considered in other forums. The matter should be considered carefully. A ban of the weapons under present conditions could lead to the production of illegal land-mines which could be more barbarous.
MOTHUSI NKGOWE (Botswana) said the international community should find effective ways of preventing conflicts as they led to the use of those weapons. When conflicts erupted, efforts must be made to raise awareness about land-mines and all mine-producing and exporting countries urged to restrict the sale of those weapons to belligerents. Responses to conflicts that proved not amenable to preventive measures must invite automatic land- mine embargoes. When a cease-fire had been established or a decision reached to set up a peace-keeping mission, the mandate of such operations must automatically include demining.
Demining should always be given top priority in every peace-keeping mission, he continued. It was important for the demobilization of combatants and the promotion of national reconciliation to go hand in hand with demining in order to facilitate the early return of civilians to productive lives. Belligerents should be made to mark their minefields in order to ease the demining process. The international community should consider taking measures under international humanitarian law to ensure compliance. Such measures would act as a deterrence against the use of land-mines if backed by clear penalties for non-adherence to applicable rules. The development of advanced mine-clearance capability and technology was necessary and the United Nations system should coordinate technological advances in that area.
HERVÉ LADSOUS (France) said that with strict respect for the competencies of the Council, the Assembly, the specialized agencies and disarmament bodies, the international community must deal with the question of mines in all its aspects: disarmament, development and humanitarian. France had long worked to totally eliminate all anti-personnel land-mines. On 9 February 1993, France had requested the Secretary-General to convene a review conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons with the hope that that would lead to a substantial revision of Protocol II of that Convention. The conference had met last May, and while it had not achieved all that France had sought, it did record significant progress in a number of areas. France considered that the only way to stop the scourge of anti- personnel land-mines would be to adopt an international, verifiable agreement for that purpose.
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France's commitment had taken concrete form, he said. That country had stopped exporting anti-personnel land-mines since it proclaimed a complete moratorium on export in 1993. Last year, France had adopted a moratorium on the production of land-mines and had committed itself to destroying existing stockpiles. France also provided assistance to demining activities. It had sent demining training teams to Lebanon, Pakistan, Somalia, Cambodia, Mozambique, Angola and parts of the former Yugoslavia.
While the negotiation of binding agreements and humanitarian interventions were critical to addressing the problems posed by mines, the existence of minefields directly affected the implementation of peace-keeping mandates and must be addressed in that context as well. It was, therefore, critical to raise awareness about mines; set priorities for demining activities; combine mine-elimination programmes with programmes to strengthen national capacity; and ensure the security of United Nations personnel in mine-infested areas.
ZBIGNIEW MATUSZEWSKI (Poland) said his country favoured the resumption of negotiations on banning the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel land-mines. It had long supported Protocol II of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Further, Poland had ceased to export land-mines, which it had not produced since the mid-1980s.
The experience of the United Nations in conflicts within States, which made up the majority of new peace-keeping operations, showed that mines ceased to be mere tools of combat; they were targeted against civilians as a means of spreading terror and hopelessness. Mines not only brought unspeakable suffering and adversely affected the humanitarian efforts of the international community, they also disrupted post-conflict peace-building in war-stricken countries, he added.
In order to deal with the problem, it was important to take mines into account when establishing a new peace-keeping operation or reviewing the mandate of an existing one, he said. "When appropriate and necessary, we should staff peace-keeping operations properly and equip them with technical and financial resources for demining." That in no way released the parties to the conflict from their responsibility. Rather, consideration should be given to including demining clauses in peace agreements.
NABIL ELARABY (Egypt) said the use of land-mines preceded United Nations peace-keeping operations. They could be found in countries with wide-scale economic problems and a lack of technical and financial resources to clear them. Efforts should be made to restrict their circulation, use or proliferation. Egypt was one of the countries that had a large number of mines, especially in its western desert, which was a site of a great battle in the Second World War -- around El-Alamein -- and around the Sinai desert. There were some 22 million land-mines in Egypt, one mine for every three Egyptians. Those weapons delayed Egypt's efforts to develop itself
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economically. The Government had spent more than $10 million in the past few years to clear some 11 million mines. It was wrong to allow Egypt alone to clear mines that had not been planted by Egyptians. Countries responsible for their proliferation should be reminded of their moral, material and legal obligations in relation to land-mines. Countries that had planted mines in Egypt should be obliged to clear them.
Egypt was not among the countries that had benefited from the mine- action programme coordinated by the Department of Humanitarian Affairs, he said. The number of mines planted yearly was 20 times greater than the number being cleared. Sometimes, though, the responsible and legitimate use of mines was an inexpensive way of protecting the borders of poor countries which did not have less costly alternatives. Rich countries should help transfer technology for producing mines that became harmless after a certain amount of time had lapsed. Mine clearance should be considered in the general framework of social and economic development, not just in the context of security.
JUAN SOMAVIA (Chile) said the victims of land-mines were largely innocent civilians. It would be more courageous for armed forces to fight one another rather than to attack innocent civilians. Mines were truly weapons of mass destruction which operated in a perverse and insidious manner because they operated indiscriminately against civilians.
After conflicts concluded, mines continued to cause destruction, he went on. Seventy countries were affected by the scourge of mines, of which some 110 million had been laid and another 1 billion stockpiled. An additional 2 to 5 million mines were being laid each year, while only 100,000 were being removed over the same period. There were 360 different types of anti- personnel mines in use, and 100 companies which produced them in 55 countries. "This is a massive, global problem which falls under the purview of collective responsibility."
The concern of the international community with respect to the problem of mines, as well as its desire to confront the problem, had been manifested in a variety of initiatives that had been inspired by the Secretary-General's An Agenda for Peace, he said. Many countries had declared moratoria on the export of anti-personnel land-mines. For the past 10 years, Chile had observed a moratorium on the production and export of such mines -- well before the moratorium proposed by the General Assembly.
Chile had participated actively in diplomatic and operational activities in the area of demining, he continued. It had also participated in the International Conference on Mine Clearance which had been convened by the Secretary-General pursuant to Assembly resolution 49/215 of 1994. The Conference had constituted an historic benchmark in international efforts to deal with the global problem of land-mines.
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He said Chile had taken note of the proposals put forward this morning, and suggested that a summary of those proposals should be prepared in order to serve future efforts aimed at tackling the problem of anti-personnel land- mines.
Sir JOHN WESTON (United Kingdom) said his country was one of the largest contributors to mine-clearance activities. It fully supported the Organization's position that responsibility for such activities lay primarily with the parties to a conflict, not with an individual peace-keeping operation. While supporting all United Nations activities for mine clearance, the United Kingdom believed that a clear distinction must be drawn between the mine clearance to serve the operational needs of peace-keeping operations, which was the responsibility of the Department of Peace-keeping Operations, and other humanitarian demining requirements, which fell under the responsibility of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs. There should clearly be close coordination between the two Departments, but their tasks were not the same.
The armed forces of the United Kingdom undertook mine-clearance work only where it was necessary for the success of a military operation, he went on. Responsibility for humanitarian mine clearance must be carried out by development and humanitarian organizations with the overall guidance of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs. Demining by the military may not be the most cost-effective means of land-mine clearance, which was a slow, painstaking and methodical process.
He went on to say that where a serious mine threat to United Nations peace-keepers existed, efforts must be urgently made to address it. However, not all peace-keeping operations faced similar mine threats. "Demining might not always be necessary and, in some circumstances, the premature removal of minefields might add to instability." In all cases, the parties must guarantee that they would desist from further mine laying once a peace-keeping operation has been established.
The United Kingdom questioned the proposed establishment of a demining stand-by force, he continued. Donor countries were unlikely to be willing to designate equipment or facilities which, if they were to be available at short notice, would sit idle in the meantime. "The United Kingdom would not be able to put mine-clearance trainers on permanent stand-by, but we remain ready to consider each request on its merits."
With respect to minefields in Egypt from the Second World War, he said that the United Kingdom had handed over to that country's Government all maps and other information it had on that subject. It had also offered to assist in the clearing of those mines.
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ALFREDO LOPES CABRAL (Guinea-Bissau) said the problem of anti-personnel land-mines had grown in recent years. As he was addressing the Council, a mine had exploded in one of the 68 countries where mines were laid. Mines were a bitter heritage and painful memory of the recent past with consequences that continued to haunt the daily lives of many millions of people. The list of affected countries was too long to read out. A small child on the way to school would lose a limb to a mine; a mother seeking water or wood would lose her life.
In light of the seriousness of the scourge of land-mines, the Council was today discussing the problem, he said. Some 118 million mines were scattered around the world. The United Nations must forge a genuine consensus on the issue. Long-term solutions would require development efforts. Demining operations posed formidable challenges to the heroic United Nations peace-keepers. More than 200 Blue Helmets had been wounded by mines, and 60 had been killed. Mines remained active for decades, constituting a permanent danger to the life of persons living in mine-infested areas. Parents feared to send their children to school in such areas, where the future was held hostage.
The military usefulness of mines was more dubious than ever, he went on. Too many children were blinded or mutilated by mines -- useless martyrs of wars without end. Negotiations on a total ban on the use, production or export of anti-personnel land-mines must be pursued. The international community must immediately seek solutions to the problems caused by anti- personnel land-mines and put an end to that global disaster which killed and injured hundreds of people each week.
TONO EITEL (Germany) said the casualty report of the United Nations demining database was a 30-page document with an endless list of mostly United Nations peace-keepers and military or civilian personnel killed or wounded by land-mines. Every figure represented an individual human being. Conflicts in which mines were used indiscriminately appeared, despite all international efforts, to be on the increase.
He recalled that some 1.3 million mines had been laid along the 1,378 kilometres of the former inner German "iron curtain", stating that the effect of those mines were still vivid in German memories.
While mine-clearance was already part of numerous United Nations peace- keeping operations, more should be done to enhance the United Nations capabilities in that area. The Secretariat, in particular the demining unit in the Department of Peace-keeping Operations, deserved more support. The creation of rapid reaction capabilities, possibly including a range of easily deployable demining stand-by facilities, could be a step forward. Member States must be willing to facilitate that task .
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Lessons learned from past peace-keeping operations, especially from the failures, have pointed to the particular importance of clear and practical mandate, he continued. Provisions for mine clearance should be made an explicit element of mandates wherever necessary. The rational delineation of responsibilities and clear hierarchies in the decision-making were also needed. While the task of the demining unit in the Department of Peace- keeping Operations was distinct from the humanitarian approach towards demining in the Department of Humanitarian Affairs, one may wonder whether some greater integration of demining activities combining the shorter- or longer-term perspectives, might not be a more efficient way of handling those issues. "I do not intend to challenge the somewhat different nature of peace- keeping and so-called humanitarian demining, and, of course, compliance with the mandates remains the first priority. But it is my feeling that demining in peace-keeping should not dogmatically have to limit itself to the concerns of mission personnel." The welfare of the local people, their protection from the danger of land-mines, should also be seen as a possible element of conflict resolution, thus, a task of peace-keeping in a wider sense. The international community must start humanitarian mine clearance wherever and as early as possible. Any other approach would be cynical to the victims.
He went on to stress that the problem of remining must also be addressed. While the international community should be ready to step up its assistance in mine clearance and related programmes, the major responsibility lay with the parties that laid the mines. "We cannot allow this simple fact to be forgotten."
For its part, Germany had relinquished totally and unconditionally the use of anti-personnel mines, as underlined again the recent seven-point-action programme of anti-personnel mines by the country's Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel. Mandates for new peace-keeping operations must require the parties to abstain from laying new mines. Affected countries must be ready to play a larger role in tackling the problem. Peace agreements should contain provisions for the former warring parties to actively contribute to mine- clearance efforts. In order to facilitate that task, the international community should be ready to provide training personnel in order to turn former combatants into active deminers. As one step in that direction, Germany, on a bilateral basis, was prepared to do its part. It was hoped that today's debate would lead to concrete proposals for practical improvements of demining efforts in a peace-keeping context.
ROBERT R. FOWLER (Canada) said that his country had a two-track approach to addressing the scourge of land-mines. The first sought to help with demining assistance, victim rehabilitation and the development of demining and victim assistance expertise and technologies to deal with the problems of mine-affected countries. The second track related to the need to stop deploying new mines and to promote an agreement which bans anti-personnel mines. Two Canadian peace-keepers had been killed and 22 seriously wounded by mines in the past five years. Canadian forces had helped develop indigenous
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mine-clearing capabilities in Afghanistan, Angola and Cambodia. Since 1993, the nation had provided more than $6 million for United Nations-sponsored mine clearance in those States through the Canadian International Development Agency. It would provide financial assistance to the mine-clearance programme of the Organization of American States (OAS) and had contributed $200,000 to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Clearance.
The representative said that the international community should confront the challenge land-mines posed for peace-keeping by seeking urgent action to eliminate and ban their use. To move international efforts to highlight the need for national action to eliminate the scourge of mines and develop a comprehensive approach to their use, Canada would host an international strategy session in Ottawa from 3 to 5 October, bringing together States, international agencies and non-governmental organizations. Participating States should endorse an Ottawa declaration to establish commonly agreed objectives to move the international community closer to a ban on anti- personnel mines. The meeting would provide an opportunity for working towards a fifty-first General Assembly resolution expressing Member States' commitment to support a global ban on such weapons, to implement national moratoria or bans on their use and export and to speed the movement towards negotiations on an agreement to ban them entirely. All United Nations Members had endorsed the "eventual elimination" of such mines. More than 40 countries had called for a comprehensive ban, with almost 30 having moved to impose unilateral restrictions on their use and export.
The meeting was suspended at 1:19 p.m.
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The meeting was reconvened at 3:30 p.m.
COLIN KEATING (New Zealand) said the proliferation of millions of land- mines around the world constituted a dreadful legacy for civilian populations. Hundreds of people were killed or maimed each week, most of whom were innocent civilians, including children. The Council must also take account of the threat posed by mines to the safety of peace-keeping personnel.
In April, New Zealand had renounced the operational use of anti- personnel land-mines by its defence forces, he said. It was hoped that all countries would do the same. "We call again for an immediate and unequivocal ban on all anti-personnel land-mines." Although the review conference on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons had not achieved all that had been hoped for, it had served to draw attention to the problem.
New Zealand had long worked to make a significant contribution to mine- clearance efforts, including through the training of personnel and the provision of significant financial resources, he went on. That country supported the Voluntary Trust Fund, as well as the establishment of demining units within the Department of Peace-Keeping Operations and the Department of Humanitarian Affairs, and the latter's designation as the focal point for United Nations mine-clearance activities. Those were welcome first steps, but much remained to be done. The Council must design mandates taking into account the need for mine clearance, mine awareness, information gathering, and training to build indigenous capabilities.
He went on to say that the Council had a role to play in more clearly defining the various mine-clearance tasks among agencies involved in a peace- keeping operation. The Department of Peace-keeping Operations and the Department of Humanitarian Affairs must coordinate their efforts to avoid duplication. Adequate resources must be allocated to support mine clearance. Lessons should be drawn from past experience on mine clearance. The Council should adopt a presidential statement requesting such a review. Perhaps, the lessons learned unit of the Department of Peace-keeping Operations could take up that project.
Regarding the need for a timely response to the threat of mines, he said New Zealand saw merit in examining, within the stand-by forces concept currently under investigation, the possibility of a rapid mine-clearance capability that could be used at the beginning or end of an operation. Consideration should be given to acquiring greater numbers of mine-protected vehicles and developing operational concepts and standardized procedures to counter the mine threat.
JOHN H.F. CAMPBELL (Ireland) made a statement on behalf of the European Union, as well as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Iceland. He said there were up
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to 110 million unexploded land-mines spread in almost 70 countries around the world. More alarming was the fact that an additional 2 to 5 million new mines were being laid every year. "The human scale of the destruction is horrific, with more than 800 people, mostly civilians, being killed each month and many thousands more being maimed."
He said the problem had humanitarian, disarmament, and development aspects. Only by tackling all three components could the problem be fully addressed. The European Union welcomed the increased priority being attached to demining in the context of peace-keeping, and strongly encouraged that greater coordination between the relevant departments be pursued in that regard.
It was important to ensure that when a peace-keeping mandate was being prepared, the responsibilities for mine-clearance programmes by the various departments and the parties to the conflict were clearly defined, he continued. The cost for such programmes must be taken into account from the outset. Mine-clearance priorities must be set, and mine-awareness programmes must be implemented at the local level. In-country mine-clearance training programmes must be established to train field staff.
While the establishment of national mine-clearance activities was critical, it should not be forgotten that the primary responsibility for demining lay with the parties to the conflict, he stressed. The extent to which the United Nations would have to bear responsibility would depend on the capacity of the parties to respond to the problem.
Reviewing the contributions of the European Union to mine clearance, he said its member States had contributed $9 million to the Voluntary Trust Fund established for that purpose. Most recently, the Union had funded mine- clearance operations directly or with non-governmental organizations in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Angola and Mozambique. The Union's Council of Ministers had decided to contribute $4.6 million to finance the work of the Mine Action Centre in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Union would continue to work to combat the indiscriminate use of anti-personnel land-mines and to stop their spread around the world.
MARIO CASTELLON DUARTE (Nicaragua) said demining programmes required long-term international assistance. The cruel nature of mines was horrific, taking the lives of thousands of people and maiming even more. A number of States had taken welcome steps to ban the production and export of land-mines, but the international community had failed to adopt a binding agreement banning anti-personnel land-mines. Great political will would be required to achieve that aim.
He said that his country had sponsored a regional conference in April which had identified land-mines as a violation of international law.
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Countries of the region had decided to adopt "mine-free zones". Governments of the world had been encouraged to ban land-mines and to contribute to restitution for the victims of their indiscriminate effects. The OAS had met in Panama in June and had taken the occasion to underline the destructive effects of anti-personnel land-mines and to call for international support for mine clearance in Central America. It was hoped that a complete ban on anti- personnel mines would be agreed upon. Nicaragua attached high priority to that goal.
Stating that there were four nuclear-free zones on the planet, he questioned why it had not been possible to establish a mine-free zone in the Western Hemisphere.
HISASHI OWADA (Japan) said that his country had contributed more than $20 million to United Nations mine-clearing activities in Cambodia, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina and elsewhere. It had pledged $2 million to the Voluntary Trust Fund at the International Meeting on Mine Clearance held in July 1995 and disbursed the amount. The issue of land-mines must be addressed comprehensively, focusing efforts on three interrelated directions: the strengthening of mine-clearance work of international agencies, with the United Nations as the centre of coordination; promoting the development of new technologies for mine detection and clearance; and strengthening international help for rehabilitating victims. The root cause of the problem -- the use of mines -- should be tackled, he said. Efforts to prevent a further proliferation of the weapons should be coupled with demining activities. Last May's Review Conference had strengthened efforts to curb the use of anti-personnel land-mines. Japan supported the momentum towards a global ban of the weapons, which had emerged from the Conference. On its own, it had decided to undertake some initiatives, pending an agreement on such a ban. It would advance necessary measures to modify its anti-personnel land-mines into self-destructing ones; it would not plan to acquire non-self-destructing land-mines; it would not make operational use of non-self-destructing types; and Japan would promptly pursue the study of alternatives to anti-personnel land-mines that would not hurt civilians. The problems of the commercial transfer of land-mines from producer countries to areas of conflict should be more closely scrutinized. Japan was restraining from such trade and urged others to do so.
The representative said that land-mines compromised peace-keeping missions and threatened the safety and security of United Nations personnel. Those facts should be considered when missions were being planned in order to include demining functions in the mandates of United Nations peace-keeping operations. Japan supported the German proposal to consider the demining function within the framework of peace-keeping activities of the United Nations. He expressed the hope that the consultation in the Council on the issue would provide a powerful momentum towards establishing an effective framework towards a global ban on the weapon.
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DAG WERNO HOLTER (Norway) said that the issue of anti-personnel land- mines should be addressed on a broad and comprehensive basis. The only sane and humane response to the scourge of such mines was their total prohibition and elimination. Norway had declared a moratorium on their production, stockpiling, transfer and use. All such mines currently found in Norwegian military stockpiles would be destroyed by 1 October. The outcome of the May Review Conference on the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects had fallen short of expectations. The amended Protocol II did not ban anti-personnel land-mines and did not go far enough in the area of interim protection for civilians. But it was a first step on the road to a legally binding global ban. The next review conference in 2001 would help maintain political pressure for a ban.
The conclusion of the recent Review Conference was only the beginning of a process which required persistent efforts to succeed. It was encouraging that more than 30 countries were now advocating a total ban on anti- personnel land-mines. Norway wanted a strong resolution at the forthcoming General Assembly that would embody the objectives of the States that wanted to ban the mines. It was also ready to take part in negotiations on a comprehensive ban on anti-personnel mines, which should start as soon as possible.
In addition to the political measures, he said practical efforts should be made to strengthen the capacity for demining by increasing permanent facilities and schemes at the local level. Norway had trained over 1,000 deminers and 400 mine-awareness instructors in various countries and spent $20 million on demining-related activities. More attention should be paid to improving mine-clearance technology, and the United Nations should provide funds for demining. Norway had contributed some $1.3 million to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Clearance and would contribute to a stand-by capacity of the United Nations mine action assistance programme.
JULIO BENITEZ SAENZ (Uruguay) said international efforts to deal with the mine problem were outweighed by the work of those laying mines. In the context of peace-keeping operations, the United Nations had assisted affected governments not only in demining, but also in the training of local populations in mine clearance and the provision of medical treatment to those who had suffered the effects of mines. As a troop-contributing country, Uruguay shared the work of the United Nations. So far, Uruguay had suffered three casualties because of anti-personnel land-mines. His country supported international diplomatic efforts to combat the scourge of mines, including the proposal by Germany that the Council should consider the demining aspects of all peace-keeping operations.
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AHMAD KAMAL (Pakistan) said more than 800 people, most of whom were innocent civilians, were killed each month by mines, and the number maimed or mutilated was even higher. "Land-mines have thus become a problem which has achieved the dimensions of a world-wide plague."
The deployment of peace-keepers in mine-strewn countries was replete with grave threats to their safety and security, he went on. Along with civilians, peace-keepers fell victim to randomly scattered mines. Unfortunately, Pakistani peace-keepers had been among those who had suffered. Last June, one of Pakistan's site supervisors serving with the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM III) had been seriously injured in a demining operation.
Peace-keepers carried out demining in order to ensure a secure environment for peace-keeping and to carry out their mandates, he said. But the importance of demining extended beyond those objectives. The removal of land-mines was a prerequisite to national reconstruction. Therefore, the linkage between the peace-keeping and humanitarian mine-clearance activities was critical.
Although the removal of mines was costly, the human cost of not destroying them was even more expensive, he continued. "Thousands of lives are lost to explosions, entire regions are denied basic services because repairs to an infrastructure are impeded, humanitarian aid shipments are disrupted, and organized societies are thrown into chaos." The international community should make contributions to demining activities. The United Nations demining capacity should be strengthened by placing trained personnel, equipment, modern technology and other facilities at the Organization's disposal. Those who laid mines must bear the primary responsibility for their clearance. "In the context of peace-keeping operations, wherever the abusers can be identified, they should be made to pay for the devastating suffering that they have caused."
YURI BOHAYEVSKY (Ukraine) said that the question of demining should be included in the planning and implementation of any peace-keeping operation. The lessons learned from the recent peace-keeping missions in the former Yugoslavia showed that the clearance of mines was a precondition for full- scale deployment of a mission. The question of sending forward-line demining units to the field before full-scale deployment should be considered. Joint missions of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs and the Department of Peace-keeping Operations to areas of conflict should assess the scope of the mine problem in each country and develop the best programmes of helping in the demining of the territories. The establishment of mine-clearance centres in countries where armed conflict had ended should be considered carefully. The centres should train staff and strengthen national capacity in the demining process.
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He said that Ukraine strongly supported efforts to eliminate the threat of land-mines and had declared a self-imposed, four-year moratorium from 1 September 1995 on the export of all types of anti-personnel land-mines. A declaration by all States of a comprehensive moratorium on the export of such weapons could significantly help solve the problems related to the use of those weapons. His country had contributed to mine clearing in Angola. It was ready to provide, on specific terms, special units of its forces for demining operations under the auspices of the United Nations, other international organizations and on bilateral bases. Concerned Member States should work closely together to make progress to destroy the "seeds of death".
CAROLINE MILLAR (Australia) said her country had long worked in the area of mine clearance, aiming to transfer knowledge and capacity to local people so that they could minimize the risk posed by anti-personnel land-mines. It had contributed some $5.8 million for that purpose. The consequences of land- mines went beyond the personal danger they posed; they were a constant reminder of periods of destruction and obstructed the return of refugees and displaced persons. "One needs no more graphic illustration of this than the picture of thousands of square kilometres of previously productive land in countries such as Cambodia and the Lao People's Democratic Republic now rendered useless because of mines", she said.
Planning for peace-keeping missions should include consideration of the need for mine-clearance activities, she went on. Planners needed to address whether mine clearance was operationally necessary to carry out the mandated functions of the mission. Any truly comprehensive political settlement should address in detail the elements of peace-building, of which demining was an essential part.
Currently, the Departments of Peace-keeping Operations and Humanitarian Affairs were coordinating their respective involvement in mine-clearance well, she said. Generally, the transition from a peace-keeping mine-clearance programme to a humanitarian programme must be carefully managed and well- coordinated. Demining for peace-keeping purposes was different from humanitarian mine clearance. "For affected people on the ground, the emphasis on demining to provide a safe working environment for peace-keepers can be seen as a failure by the United Nations to address urgent humanitarian problems." Accordingly, the creation of an indigenous demining capability should run concurrent to demining for peace-keepers.
She said adequate financing for humanitarian demining was of concern. The United Nations, through the Economic and Social Council or the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary), should consider the long-term budgetary situation, exploring the possibility of allocating more regular budget resources for mine clearance. "We believe it is false economy to invest our efforts in mine clearance in the absence of clear international commitment to prevention." Australia had announced its support for a global
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ban on the use, transfer, production and stockpiling of anti-personnel land- mines in April of this year. It would determinedly pursue that end.
VLADIMIR DROBNJAK (Croatia) said that an estimated 3 million land-mines had been laid on 13,000 square kilometres of his country. It would take an estimated 2,000 men directly engaged in mine clearance some eight to 10 years to clear that terrain. Demining should become an integral part of the post- conflict restoration process, and should become inseparable from peace- keeping. Demining was important not only to the safety of peace-keepers and returning civilians, but was essential to restoring the fabric of a war- shattered economy. Peace-keeping could not facilitate the return of refugees, the nominal functioning of civil order, or the distribution of aid if territories were not demined.
The United Nations should become the global coordinator of demining activities. A United Nations coordinating body could facilitate an exchange of data on various types of mines, exchanges of technical personnel responsible for demining and an exchange of equipment and other materials necessary for demining. Leading military Powers should make sophisticated equipment available to less developed countries, by loan if necessary. Croatia fully supported the initiative calling for a comprehensive international ban on anti-personnel mines, he said.
CLARA I. VARGAS DE LOSADA (Colombia) said that the production and use of land-mines should be banned. In the meantime, all efforts should be geared towards decreasing their proliferation. Effective international cooperation was needed to ensure less use of those weapons and in mine clearance in countries where they had been planted. There should be an increase in contribution to the funds that were used to clear mines in several parts of the world. Those who had profited from the production of land-mines bore a moral obligation to contribute towards the funds that would be used to clear mines in affected areas of the world. The ultimate goal of international action should be the elimination and prohibition of the production and use of all anti-personnel land-mines in order to stop their scourge.
ISTVAN NATHON (Hungary) said that his Government was concerned that, despite numerous international efforts, the extensive use of anti-personnel mines was still jeopardizing the solution of many long-lasting regional conflicts. Also, the indiscriminate deployment of anti-personnel mines had slowed down and even blocked the efforts of the international community to implement the mandate of peace-keeping missions. The time had come to seek a global political and legal solution to eliminate or, at least, decrease the danger represented by anti-personnel mines.
In times of post-conflict rehabilitation, land-mines could obstruct the delivery of relief supplies and the repatriation of displaced populations, he said. The rebuilding of infrastructure and the implementation of economic
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recovery operations may also be delayed. While States directly affected had the primary responsibility for mine-clearance activities, the United Nations had a role to play in strengthening the international legal framework and in assisting States in their mine-clearance efforts.
While reinforcement of existing prohibitions and restrictions on the use and transfer of certain types of anti-personnel mines would be a step in the right direction, an international ban on anti-personnel mines would better serve to relieve mankind of those weapons. The recent initiative presented by Germany in that regard was of particular value, he concluded.
MAJID TAKHT-RAVANCHI (Iran) said the indiscriminate use of mines defied the consciousness of mankind and demanded comprehensive solutions. As an affected State, Iran had actively participated in the work of competent bodies dealing with the issue, and, in principle, it supported any genuine initiative aimed at prohibiting all types of land-mines. During the Iran-Iraq war, nearly 16 million mines had been laid on Iranian territory occupied in different stages of the war. Over the past six years, the Government had embarked on a massive mine-clearance programme in order to enable displaced persons to return to their homes. Lack of advanced equipment and of maps of minefields had slowed efforts and had caused unacceptable casualties among those involved in mine-clearance activities.
He said it was ironic that, despite a world-wide campaign against anti- personnel land-mines in recent years, no serious attempt had been made to transfer newer mine-clearance technologies to affected countries. "Various types of equipment continue to remain subject to discriminatory and unjustifiable export control regimes." The United Nations had a special role to play in ensuring that no restrictions would be applied by any State that would impede access to mine-clearance technology.
Concluding, he stated that mine-clearance activities, whether in the context of peace-keeping operations or outside of their purview, should be consistent with the United Nations Charter, particularly the principles of full respect for the sovereignty and sovereign equality of all States, their territorial integrity, and non-interference in their internal affairs.
ARUN KUMAR SINGH (India) said that Indian troops had been involved in United Nations peace-keeping and demining from the Congo operations of 1961 to 1963 to recent ones in Somalia and Cambodia. The nation had contributed some $50,000 in kind to United Nations demining in the form of a broad range of experts. Mine clearance was constrained by factors, such as the lack of time and by the financial implications of major involvement of the military in demining activities in United Nations peace-keeping, in an era of financial stringency and mounting United Nations debt to major troop contributors.
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Demining was not conducive to merely a military solution nor could it be restricted to peace-keeping missions, he said. It should be an integral part of the post-conflict peace building of nations. To be successful, it should be addressed in the light of economic and social development in order to rehabilitate and improve living conditions of people in countries devastated by mines. As far as the United Nations system was concerned, the responsibility for peace-building activities had to pass on to the General Assembly, given its overall Charter mandate and responsibilities. The norms against land-mines should be strengthened by barring their transfer and use in internal conflicts.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said all were by now familiar with the statistics about land-mines, which killed or maimed some 20,000 people each year, most of whom were civilians. "Alarming as these statistics are, they do not tell the entire tragic story. They do not tell us in graphic detail of the horrendous injuries and deaths they inflict on their victims and of the tremendous social and economic costs they exact on these countries, most of which are already impoverished by long years of conflict." Affected countries were plunged into even greater depths of poverty and dependence on foreign aid. "With such vast numbers of these cruel and indiscriminate weapons strewn around the world, which by some estimates might take over a thousand years to be completely cleared, there should be a serious rethinking of existing military doctrine which legitimizes the use of these land-mines."
Malaysia joined others in calling for serious efforts to address the mine crisis, he said. Increased global awareness was critical to ensuring that there was no conspiracy of silence about the use and debilitating effects of those weapons. Peace-keepers must be adequately armed to defend themselves, and United Nations peace-keeping operations should include mine clearance as an integrated component of their work. However, Malaysia's concerns went beyond those of peace-keeping troops. "We empathize with the plight of those affected by land-mines, such as our close neighbour, Cambodia, which is seriously affected by this tragedy, and wish to contribute towards ameliorating their hardships and work together with the rest of the international community in finding an early solution to the problem."
The Review Conference on the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons had been welcome, as had other recent measures to address the scourge of mines, but such efforts fell short of the ultimate goal of the complete elimination of land-mines. Pending the realization of that goal, the onus was on mine-producing countries to ensure a more stringent regime governing the production and transfer of those weapons. "Clearly, in this exercise the role of the major Powers is pivotal. They should manifest clear leadership and seriousness in pushing the process forward. They should lead by example and demonstrate clear commitment to phase out these weapons from their arsenals."
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PETER MAURER, observer for Switzerland, said the United Nations should have a structure and financial resources to coordinate the international efforts to tackle the scourge of anti-personnel land-mines. Switzerland would increase its contributions to the efforts to clear mines and to programmes to promote awareness of the dangers of mines, the rehabilitation of mine victims and the pursuit of improvements in mine detection and clearance technology. He then announced a voluntary contribution of 1 million Swiss francs to the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Demining.
He said that the amendments to Protocol II of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons had not gone far enough in curbing mines, which should be banned. In the meantime, Switzerland was observing its own moratorium on the production of those weapons. States should act in a similar fashion to curb their proliferation. The ultimate aim of the international community should be to ban the production, transfer and use of anti-personnel land-mines all over the world.
PETER KUNG, of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said with 64 countries affected and some 24,000 victims of anti-personnel mines each year, there was no doubt that mine clearance was a priority for the world community. Although the ICRC did not itself undertake mine clearance, it was often called upon to give advice about priority areas to clear in order to enable humanitarian relief to reach affected areas. The extreme difficulties in mine clearance could not be overestimated. "The ICRC has seen that even establishing the presence of minefields frequently depends on anecdotal indications by locals of where an animal or a person was blown up by one." Rain or soil movements could also change the location of mines. The presence of mines not only hampered the work of the ICRC, it had also killed or injured a number of ICRC personnel.
It was estimated that clearing the mines currently laid would cost $33 billion, he said. Although millions of dollars were being spent on clearance, far greater numbers of mines continued to be laid than could be removed. The ICRC was convinced that mine clearance, although essential, could never be seen as a solution to the problem. While it rarely called for the ban of a specific weapon, the ICRC supported the proposed ban on anti- personnel land-mines. "First of all, our surgeons, who have had many years of experience in treating war wounds, have stressed that anti-personnel land- mines cause by far the worst injuries of conventional weapons; they are very difficult to treat, require multiple operations, and usually result in maiming or even death."
Further, land-mines had an indiscriminate effect, with the majority of their victims innocent civilians, including displaced persons returning to their homes, he continued. Land-mines closed whole regions -- often on the poorest parts of the planet -- to agricultural, social and economic development. A severe deprivation of resources could last for decades. Mines
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further deprived whole communities of emergency relief by hindering humanitarian operations.
He said the ICRC had commissioned a number of senior military officers to conduct a study of 26 post-Second World War conflicts, including all of the international ones, which found that mines had rarely been used, even by professional armies, in accordance with military doctrine, and that their effect on the tactical situation was at best marginal. In many situations, their military effect was even counterproductive for the user.
Anti-personnel mines must be banned and severe restrictions must be placed on anti-vehicle mines, he went on. "The alternative will be countless new victims, further destruction of economic and development potential, and endless pouring of truly enormous amounts of money for demining, the end result of which will be more mines, not fewer. We sincerely hope that the international community will take the only humane and logical decision."
ANA MARIA RAMIREZ (Argentina) said Argentinean peace-keepers had been killed or injured by land-mines. In addition to the humanitarian consequences of land-mines, they also hampered economic development by rendering land useless. Argentina was assisting Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua in mine clearance. It had also supported the proposed moratorium on the sale of all land-mines.
Argentina was a party to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, and had participated in the Convention's Review Conference, she said. It had welcomed the adoption of the Protocol II on the prohibition and restriction of the use of mines, booby-traps and other devices. Argentina had also offered its trained mine-clearance personnel to the United Nations. Its efforts to clear the mines in the Malvinas should be considered as Argentina's contribution to the Voluntary Trust Fund. Argentina had participated in mine- clearance activities around the world in the context of peace-keeping and would continue to do so. In order to gain further insight into the matter, the Security Council should adopt a presidential statement calling for a review of the issue.
IVAN Z. MISIC (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said that up to 3 million land- mines were strewn across his country. From 1 January to 15 June alone, 16 persons had been killed by mines, with eight of them being children. In Tuzla and Zenica, abut 55 per cent and 45 per cent, respectively, of all war- time amputees had been maimed by those weapons. The cost of rehabilitation was immense. Mines were reminders of intolerance, ethnic chauvinism and the war aims that had torn apart the fabric of Bosnian society. While the mines had completed their military roles, they were now helping out the aims of division, ethnic cleansing and genocide. The mine problem in Bosnia and Herzegovina had contributed to the lack progress in the return of refugees and displaced persons; helped prevent the freedom of movement; hampered economic
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recovery, increased medial costs and kept a psychological siege on the Bosnian people. It was clear that it would take 1,000 mine clearers about 33 years to cover the mine-plagued areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. Bosnia and Herzegovina had about 20,000 unmarked mine fields and the work of clearing them would be carried out by the Bosnians themselves.
He said that his delegation supported the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and similar General Assembly resolutions. It also supported the efforts of many Member States and international organizations for a total ban on the manufacture, transfer and use of land-mines. More investments should be made to improve mine detection and destruction technologies. Governments and countries that exported mines should be discouraged with the threat of serious consequences, including sanctions. He expressed support for the initiatives of the President of the United States to ban the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel land- mines. The seven-point-action programme on personal mines announced by the German Foreign Minister was an extraordinary effort towards the elimination of dangers and damages of those weapons.
RUTH DECEREGA SMITH (Panama) said the problem of land-mines was a matter of great urgency. In areas that were no longer battlefields, land-mines could detonate at any time, making victims of defenceless civilians. Humanity must eradicate that repugnant reality. Many had denounced anti-personnel land- mines, and demining was frequently called for. Those measures must be carried out in the context of disarmament and development. According to one Spanish historian, indigenous persons in an area that had been colonized by the Spanish had decided not to produce any more bows and arrows after they realized that their fields had been sown with poison arrows to which they were particularly vulnerable since they walked barefoot. As humanity approached the twenty-first century, that problem persisted in new forms.
Panama supported a total ban on land-mines, she went on. The European Union had called for accelerated efforts to address all humanitarian aspects of the problem of anti-personnel land-mines. That call was welcome, and it was hoped that the necessary resources would be allocated for that purpose. "We are shouldering a task that should be the duty of all of us." She expressed appreciation to those countries which were taking the lead in combating the scourge of land-mines, and pledged her country's full support for those efforts.
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