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Country Reports
NON-STATE ACTORS WORKING GROUP, Landmine Monitor Report 2001
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The Non-State Actors Working Group (NSAWG) was established by country campaigns in the ICBL to address the issue of NSAs and landmine use. Since NSAs are not covered by the Mine Ban Treaty, the Working Group sees the need to develop a complementary process to engage NSAs in an unconditional ban on the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of landmines and obtain their cooperation on integrated mine action. It promotes and disseminates research and information related to NSAs and landmines. Since 1997, NSAWG members have been approaching NSAs in East and South Asia, Latin America, North and East Africa, and southern Europe to discuss the landmine problem with them and seek their commitment to a ban.

In March 2001, the NSA Working Group listed 20 country campaigns from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, Europe and North America as members of the group.[2] It has published a brochure and put up a website at www.icbl.org/wg/nsa where research materials and NSAWG/country campaigners’ papers on NSAs and landmines can be found.

A Non-State Actors Database Program is hosted by the London-based International Alert and is maintained in partnership with Geneva Call. The Database’s regional and country surveys of NSAs, collection of NSA declarations, and reference information on selected NSAs, are available from nsadba@international-alert.org.

Other country campaigns and partners have been developing new research on various NSAs. The Indian Campaign, for instance, has produced a briefing paper on “Militant Groups in India” and their use of explosives. The Thai Campaign, with Non-Violence International taking the lead, has put together a report on the landmine issue in Southeast Asia, including an overview of NSAs and landmine use in the region. Yeshua Mosher and Andrew Seth have also written informative articles on landmines in Burma in recent issues of the James Madison University's Journal of Mine Action and of the Burma Debate produced by the Open Society Institute. Landmine Monitor researchers likewise report on NSA landmine-related activities under each country report in this and past issues of Landmine Monitor.

Following the ICBL General Assembly in Washington in March 2001, the Swiss Campaign assumed the post of co-chair of the NSA Working Group, replacing Mines Action Canada. The Philippine Campaign continues to be the other co-chair of the Working Group. Neil Mander, convener of the New Zealand campaign has taken on the task of moderator of the Working Group’s listserve, while Non-Violence International, on behalf of the Thai Campaign, continues to maintain the Working Group’s web page.

Post-NSA Conference Developments. To pursue its efforts in developing strategies for and actually engaging non-state armed groups in committing themselves to a mine ban, several country campaigns of the NSAWG organized a landmark conference on 24-25 March 2000, in Geneva. Dubbed “Engaging Non-State Actors in a Landmine Ban, A Pioneering Conference,” the event was organized and hosted by the Swiss Campaign in cooperation with members of the Colombian Campaign, Mines Action Canada, the Philippine Campaign, the UK Working Group on Landmines, and the Zimbabwe Campaign. About 120 people from over 30 countries attended. (For more details, see Landmine Monitor 2000 NSA Working Group Report, p. 994.)

The summary proceedings of the conference have been published in pamphlet form and a book publication of papers and other documents presented or made available during the Conference is being prepared for release by the end of 2001. The Summary Proceedings were widely distributed.

Guidelines in Engaging NSAs. One of the Conference’s recommendations was the further development of the Working Group’s draft Guidelines in Engaging NSAs through workshops at the field level, and the integration of the experience and research of other organizations working with similar groups. Toward this end, low-key workshops with selected NSAs in Southeast and South Asia and in East Central Africa are currently being planned to improve the draft, and to provide a forum where NSA commitment to a landmine ban can be enhanced.

Geneva Call: L’Appel de Geneve or The Geneva Call is a new international NGO based in Geneva that calls upon NSAs to commit themselves to a total ban on AP mines and to other humanitarian norms, and serves as a mechanism to hold NSAs accountable for their commitments. Geneva Call was launched in March 2000 by members of the Working Group. It hopes to fill a gap in the international legal regime whereby NSAs, as a rule, are not allowed to enter into or adhere to international treaties such as the Mine Ban Treaty.

The initial mechanism is for NSAs to sign a standard “Deed of Commitment for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action,” or to deposit their own unilateral declarations. The custodians for these deeds are the authorities of the Republic and Canton of Geneva. Under the standard “Deed of Commitment,” signatory groups commit themselves to prohibit under any circumstances the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of AP mines, as well as to undertake and cooperate in mine action activities. They also pledge to cooperate in the monitoring and verification of their commitment, notably by providing information and allowing fact-finding missions.

So far, three NSAs, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Rebolusyonaryong Partidong Manggagawa-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPM-ABB) of the Philippines, have deposited their unilateral declarations. The latter two signed the “Deed of Commitment.”

The accountability mechanism of the Deed is currently being tested with the MILF for apparent violations reported in the latter part of 2000, when conflict between the MILF and the government forces intensified. Pursuant to the transparency and accountability mechanism envisioned in the Deed, Geneva Call is undertaking plans to hold a fact-finding mission in Mindanao in 2001, the area of the conflict in the Philippines. Initial arrangements have been made with government and rebel representatives for this mission but continuing political instability in the country has moved back the schedule.

The Geneva Call is also following up commitments and declarations made by NSAs during the Geneva Conference and in other fora. Regular dialogue was established, for instance, with high-ranking representatives of the Polisario Front and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to review their stand on landmines and encourage them to join the ban movement.

In addition, in order to promote the norm of a total ban on AP mines in a more systematic way, Geneva Call has started, in partnership with the Working Group, the development of an educational handbook on the landmine problem directed at NSAs and their constituencies. Once finalized, the handbook will be widely circulated, in particular among NSAs, and publicized through the future website of the Geneva Call (http://www.genevacall.org/). The distribution of the handbook will be followed up by dialogue with receptive NSAs.

Geneva Call has also established contacts with NGOs dealing with NSAs on other problems related to the application of humanitarian norms, such as the use of child soldiers and torture, in order to share knowledge and experience and to discuss prospects for cooperation. More information on Geneva Call is available from info@genevacall.org.

Advocacy of NSA work: Several NSA Working Group country campaigners have given presentations on NSA landmine ban advocacy in national and/or regional fora. In his paper, “The Ottawa Process and Nonstate Actors,” presented at the national conference organized by the Indian Campaign in New Delhi last 3 May 2001, Lt. Gen Gurbir Mansingh elaborated on the necessity of getting NSA compliance and related strategies. In Sri Lanka, a meeting called “Engaging Non-State Actors in the Ottawa Convention Process” was organized by the Centre for Defence Studies of Kings College (London) and the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (Colombo).

A briefing by Philippine campaigners was also devoted to the theme in the forum, “Measured Steps: The Global Movement to Ban Landmines,” co-sponsored by the Canadian Embassy and held at the University of the Philippines in February 2001. In Mali, South African campaigner Noel Stott gave a presentation at the Seminar on the Universalization and Implementation of the Ottawa Convention in Africa, held on 15-16 February 2001. On 4 May 2001, Swiss campaigner Elisabeth Reusse-Decrey was invited by Cornelio Sommaruga, President of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining, to give a presentation on the NSA issue and Geneva Call at a meeting of the Centre’s Advisory Board.

The Australian Network has continued to monitor situations of instability in the region, especially in Myanmar/Burma, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Bougainville, but has not undertaken any direct action except to build base contacts, in particular with communities from Sri Lanka. A petition was presented to the Australian Government seeking support for advocacy with the Sri Lankan government and rebel factions for a total ban. An Australian campaigner attended the seminar on landmines in Sri Lanka in April 2001.

The NSAWG has also sought to advance NSA work in other mine initiatives such as in the Intersessional Standing Committee on General Status and Operation of the Convention on landmines.

Field Work. Working Group members and Landmine Monitor researchers in Thailand, the Philippines, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Colombia, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Switzerland and the United Kingdom continued to engage NSAs in their countries, sub-regions, or work sites where and when possible, as special initiatives or in the course of other work. The Japan Campaign has sent a Japanese volunteer to work as an intern with Thai-based campaigners active in NSA work in the region.

In the Guwahati state capital of Assam (North East India), some ex-NSAs attended the Regional Seminar held by the Indian Campaign on 30 December 2000. NSA representatives also attended the Indian Campaign’s Regional Seminar in the Kohima state capital of Nagaland (North East India) on 6 December 2000. NSA groups in Nagaland have a peace truce with the Government of India.

In all, communication lines have been established with NSAs in Burma/Myanmar, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan Colombia, Angola, Sudan, Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan, Kosovo/Yugoslavia, and the Polisario in Western Sahara/Morocco. In places such as the Philippines and Colombia where political negotiations are taking place, NSA Working Group and Geneva Call campaigners lobby for specific agreements relating to landmine use.

For instance, during the April 2001 multi-sectoral Solidarity Conference on the Peace Process held in Metro Manila, Philippine landmine campaigners lobbied peace panel members of the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to adhere to a landmine ban. The Conference was held as a prelude to the resumption of formal negotiations between the two parties.

An open letter to the Ejercito de Liberacion Nacional (ELN/National Liberation Army) was also presented during a three-day meeting in July 2000 in Geneva between the Colombian government, ELN guerrillas and civil society delegates to discuss the possible content and modalities of a peace process with the ELN. The letter, given to the ELN delegates at the meeting, called on the armed group to live up to its earlier announcement regarding cessation of the use of mines. The letter provoked a debate on the fringes of the meeting and, in turn, media covering the conference reported on it in the country. Early in August 2000 it was given national coverage on radio and television.

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[2] These are the Afghan Campaign, Australian Network of the ICBL, Azerbaijan Campaign, Colombian Campaign, Indian Campaign, Irish Campaign-Pax Christi, Italian Campaign, Kenya Coalition Against Landmines, Mines Action Canada, Namibian Campaign, Nepal Campaign, New Zealand Campaign, Pakistan Campaign, Palestine Campaign, Philippine Campaign, South African Campaign, Swiss Campaign, Thai Campaign, Landmine Action (UK), and Zimbabwe Campaign. The WG also has a roster of experts/associates working closely with the group. This includes London-based Eduardo Marino, the previous chair of the NSA Working Group; Mary Foster, formerly with Mines Action Canada; Rae McGrath, technical adviser to Landmine Action (UK Campaign); and retired Indian Maj. Gen. Dipankar Banerjee, executive director of the Regional Centre for Strategic Studies based in Colombo and international consultant of the ICRC.