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BURKINA FASO, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

Although Burkina Faso is not and has never been mine-affected, it has played a vocal role in international efforts to ban antipersonnel landmines. Since October 1996, the Burkinabè government has been actively involved in the Ottawa Process. Burkina Faso attended all the major meetings including the October 1996 strategy conference in Ottawa where the process was launched, the Maputo Fourth International NGO Conference where the government delivered a statement, the Brussels Meeting where it signed the declaration and the Oslo treaty negotiations, taking the firm stand for a total ban on landmines all the way through.

There is no ambiguity in the position of the Burkinabè government regarding antipersonnel mines. Burkina Faso first called for a comprehensive ban on landmines at the 50th UN General Assembly in October 1995.[1] Indeed, in all regional and international fora (OAU, UN, Franco-African Summit of heads of state) Burkinabè representatives supported resolutions calling for a global ban on antipersonnel mines. Burkina Faso voted in favour of all the relevant UN General Assembly resolutions in 1996, 1997 and 1998. At the Inter-African NGO Seminar on Landmines parallel to the OAU summit in Ouagadougou in June 1998, Mahahama Savadogo, representing Burkina’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ablassé Ouédraogo, spelled out clearly the government's reasoning: "To forestall the devastating effects of the antipersonnel mine disaster, there is an urgent need to intensify the campaign for the immediate coming into force of the Convention."[2]

On 3 December 1997 in Ottawa, Burkina Faso’s Foreign Minister Ouedrago signed the Mine Ban Treaty and declared that "Burkina Faso confirms its commitment to the participation in the eradication of landmines at all levels. Within the framework of this participation, Burkina Faso will assume all the responsibilities of a member state."[3]

Under the law number 035/98/AN, dated 29 July 1998, the Burkinabè national assembly authorised the government to ratify the Convention; and under Act No. 24/DGAPJC/AJC/STAI of 15 September 1998, President Blaise Compaoré, ratified it. The instruments of ratification were deposited on 16 September 1998 at the United Nations, making Burkina Faso the fortieth ratification and thus allowing the Mine Ban Treaty to enter into force on 1 March 1999, in accordance with article 17.

Although the ratification instruments are in compliance with the Burkinabè constitution in both content and form, the law merely authorises ratification. The government has not yet adopted any national implementation measures as required by Article 9 of the ban treaty. According to sources in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, such implementation legislation is not necessary because Burkina Faso has never produced, stockpiled, or used landmines.[4] Burkina Faso is also not yet a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons nor its amended Protocol.

After participating in the October 1996 Ottawa Conference, the UIDH (Inter-African Union of Human Rights) pursued a vigorous plan of sensibilisation and mobilisation in Burkina Faso and throughout the African continent, in collaboration with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). Among other things, this joint effort resulted in the Inter-African Conference of NGOs, held in Ouagadougou on 3-5 June 1998. Bringing together over 100 participants, including representatives from eighteen African and eight international NGOs, the conference culminated in a final declaration which clearly articulated a comprehensive plan of action for the African continent in the efforts to implement the ban on antipersonnel mines.

The birth of the Burkinabé National Campaign on 23 May 1998, was a direct result of the program undertaken by UIDH and MBDHP (Mouvement Burkinabé des droits de l'Homme et de peuple) at local level. It encompassing a diverse range of NGOs including trade unions, women's organisations, human rights organisations, and lawyer's associations.[5]

Burkina Faso is not known to have ever produced or exported AP mines. At a meeting of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Commission in July 1998, Defence Minister Albert Millogo, in response to questions asked by deputies, stated unequivocally that Burkina Faso had never used or stockpiled antipersonnel mines.[6] According to the Minister, Burkina Faso’s armed forces possess only inactive mines for military training purposes but their number and types are unavailable at this time.

Despite two border disputes with Mali (in 1974 and 1985), no mine incidents have been recorded in the country and it seems that no antipersonnel mines were laid at that time. Interviews with various members of the army and with Commander Haarouna Ouedraogo, a Defence cabinet member, corroborate the Defence Minister's statements, and reveal also that the army has never laid mines beyond its borders.[7]


[1]UN General Assembly resolution 50/74, 12 December 1995.

[2]Speech delivered at the Inter-African Seminar on APM, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 3 June 1998.

[3]His Excellency Ablassé Ouédraogo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Statement to Signing Ceremony, Ottawa, 3 December 1997.

[4]Name withheld at the request of the interviewed official.

[5]The Burkinabè Movement for Human and Peoples’ Rights (MBDHP), the Survey and Research Group on Democracy and Economic and Social development (GERDDES), the Aimé Nikkiema Foundation for Human Rights (FANIDHO), the Coalition of Women’s Associations in Burkina Faso (COA/FEB), the Free Trade Union of Magistrates in Burkina Faso (SAMAB), the Association for the Promotion of Disabled Women (APFH), the BurkinabèTrade Union Confederation (CSB), and others.

[6]Parliamentary debate, 29 July 1998.

[7]LM Researcher interview, 20 January 1999.