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Country Reports
Papua New Guinea, Landmine Monitor Report 2003

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea has not yet acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. On 15 January 2003, Prime Minister Michael Somare said the government was arranging to accede to the treaty.[1] At the May 2003 intersessional Standing Committee on General Status and Operation of the Convention, a representative from Papua New Guinea made the following intervention:

In 1997, the Cabinet made the decision to become a State Party. A lack of prioritization by the government and administrative problems has meant that internal ratification procedures have not been completed. As of last month, efforts to accede have been revived. Documents are being prepared for the national parliament to ratify before the end of the month. We will deposit before Bangkok [September 2003].[2]

Papua New Guinea’s interest in acceding to the treaty was revived during an April 2003 visit to Port Moresby by New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Phil Goff, and Minister for Disarmament, Marion Hobbs. The ministers raised the need for Papua New Guinea to accede to the treaty without delay when they met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, who assured the delegation that he could see no possible hindrance to Papua New Guinea doing so.[3]

On 22 November 2002, Papua New Guinea voted in support of UN General Assembly Resolution 57/74 stressing the importance of universalization and effective implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.

Papua New Guinea states that it has never used, produced, or transferred antipersonnel mines.[4] In October 2001, the Commander of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Colonel Peter Ilau, said the country maintains a stockpile of mines, which he described as not “major.”[5] Parts of Papua New Guinea still have unexploded ordnance dating from World War II.

[1] Letter to Sr. Denise Coghlan, Cambodia, from Michael Somare, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, 15 January 2003.
[2] Notes taken by Landmine Monitor (HRW) of a statement to the Standing Committee on General Status and Operation of the Convention by Grace Dom, Legal Officer, Department of Foreign Affairs, Geneva, 12 May 2003.
[3] The Landmine Monitor researcher, John V. Head, was also part of the New Zealand delegation, which visited Papua New Guinea from 10-12 April 2003. He received similar assurances from Gabriel Pepson, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and Dominic Sengi, Director of the International Organization Branch of the Papua New Guinea Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
[4] Interview with David Anere, Politics and Security Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Papua New Guinea, Wellington, 27 March 2001.
[5] Interview by David Capie, small arms researcher, with Colonel Peter Ilau, Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Port Moresby, 9 October 2001. Capie provided the information in email to Landmine Monitor (HRW), 12 December 2001.