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Austria , Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Key developments since May 2002: Austria has served as co-chair of the Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention since September 2002. Austria has continued to play a key role in promoting universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. Austrian funding for mine action in 2002 more than doubled to €2.06 million (US$1.96 million), including €1.27 million for Afghanistan.

Mine Ban Policy

Austria signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified it on 29 June 1998, becoming a State Party on 1 March 1999. National legislation containing penal sanctions for activities prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty pre-dates the treaty. Production and transfer of antipersonnel mines ceased before entry into force of the Mine Ban Treaty, with the exception of Claymore-type directional fragmentation munitions. Stockpile destruction was completed in 1996, and no antipersonnel mines were retained for training and development.

Austria submitted its Article 7 transparency report for calendar year 2002 on 29 April 2003. Data is unchanged since the previous report, with the exception of mine action funding reported on the voluntary Form J. This is Austria’s fifth Article 7 report.[1]

Austria has continued to play a key role in the Mine Ban Treaty intersessional work program and in promoting universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. At the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002, Austria became co-chair of the Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention. Austria actively participated in the contact groups on universalization and on Articles 7 and 9, as well as the new contact group on resource mobilization. Austria has undertaken several démarches encouraging States Parties to submit their Article 7 reports or enact national legislation as required by Article 9. Austria was one of five countries that offered to host the 2004 Review Conference and participated actively in the President’s Consultations on preparations for the 2004 Review Conference.

In 2002-2003, Austria chaired the Human Security Network (HSN). A declaration by the HSN in support of the treaty was presented at the Fourth Meeting of States Parties and included in the meeting’s final report. The declaration, agreed on 12 September 2002 by foreign ministers of HSN members, stated that they remain strongly committed to further strengthening the humanitarian norm established by the Mine Ban Treaty, and noted that “no conceivable military utility of antipersonnel mines could possibly outweigh and justify the devastating humanitarian costs of these weapons.” It expressed their determination to “work strenuously” towards universalization of the treaty.[2]

The Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs, as chair of the HSN, wrote to foreign ministers of all states not yet party to the treaty to encourage them to join. At the HSN’s annual meeting in May 2003, it was agreed that states replying to the HSN would be invited to enter into a dialogue and encouraged to attend the Fifth Meeting of States Parties and the intersessional meetings. States not replying to the HSN letter would receive follow-up communications. The HSN also adopted a workplan for 2003-2005 that included member countries acting as “regional champions” of the Mine Ban Treaty, coordination of universalization activities by diplomatic missions in states not yet party to the treaty, and focusing its activities on the Middle East and G8 countries.[3]

The NGO, Austrian Aid for Mine Victims, wrote to the Minister for Foreign Affairs in January 2003 emphasizing the importance of involving non-state actors in universalization of the treaty. The Minister replied that the Austrian presidency of the HSN had two main priorities, human rights education and children in armed conflicts, as well as the mine ban.[4]

Other efforts by Austria aimed at promoting and universalizing the treaty included bilateral contacts with countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus, the Middle East and the rest of Asia.[5] In November 2002, Austria voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 57/74, which calls for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.

Austria has previously expressed detailed views on the issue of antivehicle mines with antihandling devices or sensitive fuzes.[6] At the Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Austria welcomed practical steps suggested by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) intended to take the issue “beyond legalistic debate,” and encouraged all countries to express views “in the hope of convergence.”[7] Austria did not intervene on this matter in the discussions in the Standing Committee meetings in February and May 2003.

Mines Retained for Training

At a Standing Committee meeting in May 2003, Austria stated that “mine clearance training can be carried out in a very effective and sophisticated manner without the need of retaining live mines.... We think that States Parties should not retain any APLs [antipersonnel landmines] at all.” During discussion of the quantities retained by other States Parties, the Austrian delegation said that the number “cannot be so high that the commitment of a State Party to comply with the core treaty obligation can be put into doubt. That commitment can indeed be questioned, if a State Party keeps so many mines that they could still be used in a conflict.” Austria noted that an understanding has emerged that the number of retained mines should be in the hundreds or thousands, but not in the tens of thousands.[8]

Prohibition on “assist”

In April 2003, the Green Party initiated a parliamentary inquiry that questioned whether national legislation is less stringent than the Mine Ban Treaty as regards the Article 1.1c prohibition on assisting others to undertake prohibited activities.[9] This related to a Green Party letter and parliamentary inquiry in 2002, regarding the use of grenades with Austrian markings in an attack on the parliament building in New Delhi in December 2001. The grenades were marked “Arges,” indicating the Austrian company Armaturen GmbH. The issue relates to landmines because concerns have been raised that Arges licensed Pakistan Ordnance Factories to produce a grenade (which Arges denied) that POF adapted for use in a bounding antipersonnel mine.[10] The Green Party wrote to the Minister of Internal Affairs on 11 April 2003 suggesting that inadequate regulation of the licensing for foreign production of Austrian military ammunition could allow the New Delhi incident to reoccur.

On 20 May 2003, the Minister of the Interior replied that foreign-licensed production of Austrian “war material” would require approval under Article 1(1) of the War Material Act and that existing law prohibits assistance to others in carrying out prohibited acts, as set out in Article 1.1c of the Mine Ban Treaty. The Ministry of the Interior’s reply indicated that the investigation of this issue started over two years ago. The Ministry stated that it could not comment further.[11]

Austria is a State Party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Amended Protocol II and submitted its annual report under Article 13 of the Protocol on 16 October 2002. It attended the Fourth Annual Conference of States Parties to the Protocol on 11 December 2002. It participated actively in the CCW Group of Governmental Experts meetings in 2002 and 2003, and is in favor of a legally binding instrument on Explosive Remnants of War.

Mine Action Funding

At the Standing Committee meetings in February and May 2003, Austria described mine action as an aspect of sustainable development. It stressed the need for greater donor-recipient coordination and planning if the necessary long-term funding is to be achieved. It said that greater involvement of the private sector and of the public was also desirable.[12] As a result of Austria’s early role in establishing the Mine Ban Treaty, humanitarian mine action became a priority topic with its own budget line. But this separated mine action from the Austrian development cooperation program. Austria now recognizes “that the mine problem is a ‘cross-cutting’ issue with many different aspects,” and in the near future hopes to reorganize the development cooperation structure to identify synergies between mine action and development programs.[13]

At a Standing Committee meeting in May 2003, Austria also pointed out that it does not have a separate budget for mine victim assistance. Austria said that as mine action is integrated into the wider development agenda, mine-affected states should include the care of mine victims within their public health development priorities for negotiation with Austrian development agencies. Development programs have the advantage of multi-year funding, whereas Austria’s mine action budget has to be approved annually.[14]

Austria’s most recent Article 7 report gives details on mine action funding in 2002 which total €2,061,701 (US$1.96 million).[15] This includes €1.27 million for Afghanistan. Mine action funding in 2002 was more than twice that of the previous year: ATS13,683,385 ($888,511).[16]

According to the Article 7 report, projects funded in 2002 were:

  • Afghanistan – €800,000 ($760,000) to the Austrian Red Cross and ICRC for victim assistance
  • Afghanistan – €225,000 ($213,750) in technical support to the Organization for Mine Clearance and Afghan Rehabilitation for mine clearance
  • Afghanistan – €245,200 ($232,940) as value of Schiebel mine detectors donated to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
  • Angola and Mozambique – €158,180 ($150,271) to the UN Development Program (UNDP) for training of mine action managers (taken from the 2003 budget)
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina – €115,545 ($109,768) to the Austrian NGO Hope 87 for rehabilitation of mine victims in Sarajevo (taken from the 2003 budget)
  • Mozambique – €270,389 ($256,870) to the Austrian Development Cooperation for capacity building and mine risk education in Sofala
  • Nicaragua – €82,910 (78,765) to Horizont 3000 for rehabilitation and mine risk education in Rio Coco
  • International Trust Fund – €45,037 ($42,785) for rehabilitation in Slovenia of 12 mine survivors from Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining – €5,516 ($5,240) for the Implementation Support Unit
  • Fourth Meeting of States Parties – €18,000 ($17,100) as support for human resources
  • ICBL – €65,902 ($62,607) for the Landmine Monitor
  • Evaluation of the Austrian mine action program – €30,022 ($28,521) for an initial desk study.[17] The evaluation report is not yet published.

In 2002, Schiebel, an Austrian company, successfully field-tested in Croatia a prototype of the Camcopter, as part of the ARC aerial system for technical and post-clearance survey of minefields. The final version of the ARC system was planned for March 2003, with an airborne mine detection demonstration to be held in October 2003.[18]

A charity concert took place in Vienna on 4 May 2003, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to fundraise for a mine-free world. The proceeds of €100,000 ($95,000) were matched by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and given to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The artists Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lambert Orkis donated their work to the cause.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in June 2003 that its policy for future mine action funding is to concentrate on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Mozambique.[19]

It was reported previously that funds designated for Mozambique in 2001 were not used due to the slow progress of the projects. Landmine Monitor was told that the projects are being evaluated by independent personnel.[20] Funds designated for Mozambique in 2002 were also not used. Alternative use of these funds was being planned in June 2003, according to the Austria Development Corporation.[21]

Non-governmental funding of mine action

CARE Austria donated $100,000 to a mine risk education project conducted with CARE Laos, UNDP and UNICEF. In Ingushetia, in the Russian Federation, CARE Austria has undertaken psychosocial rehabilitation for child mine survivors, with $92,099 funding by UNICEF and CARE Austria.[22] Caritas-Austria donated €88,000 to the consortium Church Ecumenical Action in Sudan, including some funding for mine clearance.[23] The Entwicklungshilfe-Klub donated €14,711 to the Jesuit Service Cambodia, via Misereor, for victim assistance in 2002.[24]

The Austrian Red Cross has no mine-related projects, but channels funds to the ICRC for victim assistance and mine risk education in Afghanistan. The €6,525 proceeds of a Red Cross fundraising film premiere in 2002 were donated to the ICRC.[25]

The Rotary Club-Salzburg West donated $3,000 via Austrian Aid for Mine Victims (AAMV) for wheelchairs to the Jesuit Service Cambodia. It also donated €7,000 from the proceeds of a golf tournament to AAMV for its mine action work in 2002.[26] In 2003, the Rotary Club Salzburg-West donated a further €5,000 to AAMV, again from the proceeds of a golf tournament.[27]

[1] Article 7 Report, 29 April 2003 (for calendar year 2002); Article 7 Report, 3 May 2002 (for calendar year 2001); Article 7 Report, 30 April 2001 (for calendar year 2000); Article 7 Report, 28 April 2000 (for the period 30 April-31 December 1999); Article 7 Report, 29 July 1999 (for the period 1 March-30 April 1999).
[2] Human Security Network, “Declaration on Promoting the Universalization of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction,” 12 September 2002. Members of the HSN are Austria, Canada, Chile, Greece, Ireland, Jordan, Mali, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, South Africa, Switzerland, and Thailand.
[3] “Universalization Panel (Human Security Network),” intervention by Austria, Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 12 May 2003, available at www.gichd.ch.
[4] Letter from Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Minister for Foreign Affairs, 30 January 2003.
[5] Email from Alexander Kmentt, Counselor, Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva, 20 January 2003.
[6] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 91-92.
[7] Intervention by Austria, Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 16-20 September 2002. (Landmine Monitor notes.)
[8] “Article 3,” intervention by Austria, Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 16 May 2003, available at www.gichd.ch.
[9] Letter of inquiry from Dr. Peter Pilz, Member of Parliament, and colleagues, 11 April 2003. Parliamentary Inquiry number XXII.GP.-NR/J/2003-04-11.
[10] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 90-91; Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 606.
[11] Letter (no. GZ 11.200/160-III/3/03) to Dr Andreas Kohl, President of the National Assembly, from Dr. Ernst Strasser, Minister of the Interior, 20 May 2003.
[12] Intervention by Austria, Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 3 February 2003 (Landmine Monitor notes). For details of Austrian funding policy, see Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 92.
[13] “Resource Mobilization,” intervention by Austria, Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 12 May 2003.
[14] “Victim Assistance,” intervention by Austria, Standing Committee on Victim Assistance and Socio-Economic Reintegration, Geneva, 13 May 2003.
[15] Article 7 Report, Form J, 29 April 2003 (for calendar year 2002). Exchange rate of €1 = $0.95, used throughout this report unless dollar figure only given. Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 6 January 2003.
[16] See Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 92.
[17] Article 7 Report, Form J, 29 April 2003; email from Romana Koenigsbrun, Department for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 15 January 2003.
[18] Emails from Petra Hoermann-Wambacher,Scheibel Gmbh, 9 and 21 January 2003.
[19] Email from Georg Zehetner, Department for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 5 June 2003.
[20] Emails from Margit Scherb, Department VII.6, Austrian Development Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 9 May 2003, and from Christian Zeinninger, regional coordinator in Mozambique, Austrian Development Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 12 April 2003. See also Landmine Monitor Report 2002, p. 95.
[21] Email from Sigrid Kodym, Department VII.1, Austrian Development Corporation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 25 June 2003.
[22] Fax from Reinhard Trink, Emergency Director, CARE Austria, 14 January 2003.
[23] Email and telephone interview with Franz Karl Prüller, Caritas-Austria, 13 January 2003.
[24] Email and telephone interview with Franz Christian Fuchs, Entwicklungshilfe-Klub, 9 January 2003.
[25] Email from Helga Kohl, Austrian Red Cross, 10 January 2003.
[26] Email from Judith Majlath, AAVM, 19 July 2002.
[27] Telephone interview with Dr. Christian Horn, Rotary Club Board Member, 8 July 2003.