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Treaty Working Group, Landmine Monitor Report 2004

Treaty Working Group

The ICBL’s Treaty Working Group (TWG) consists of approximately twenty-four ICBL member organizations and while the group does not meet formally, its members consult informally and often draft common ICBL statements, discuss positions on ICBL issues of concern and develop strategies and actions related to the Mine Ban Treaty and dealing with other mine-oriented international bodies and instruments, such as CCW Amended Protocol II, as well as with national laws and measures. The TWG chair is Human Rights Watch.

Actions Taken

Universalization: Mine Ban Treaty universalization efforts continued in 2003 and 2004, as TWG members placed special emphasis on using the December 2004 date for the “Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World,” or First Review Conference, as a deadline to encourage countries to join the treaty. Since Landmine Monitor Report 2003 was published, nine countries radified or acceded to the treaty (Belarus, Burundi, Estonia, Guyana, Greece, Papua New Guinea, Serbia and Montenegro, Sudan, and Turkey). Members of the TWG participated in regular meetings of the Universalization Contact Group, as well as the two regional ICBL/Landmine Monitor meetings held in non-signatory countries: Kyrgyzstan in November 2003 and United Arab Emirates in December 2003. Members of the TWG represented ICBL in other regional landmine conferences in non-signatory countries, including in China, and visited target countries to press for accession to the treaty, including Kazakhstan. They spoke on multiple occasions in regional and international fora, such as the United Nations in Geneva and New York, the European Union, NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council’s Political Committee, the Organization of American States, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The TWG also supports efforts taken to engage Non-State Actors, as this is essential to obtaining truly global adherence to the antipersonnel mine ban.

Implementation and Monitoring: TWG members continued to work closely with national campaigns and other ban partners on the implementation and monitoring of the Mine Ban Treaty. The TWG continued to monitor and report on progress made by States Parties in submitting Article 7 reports and also closely tracked developments in national implementation measures (Article 9), including commenting on draft legislation. The TWG chair serves as the coordinator of the Landmine Monitor. The work of the TWG and the ICBL has been reinforced by Landmine Monitor’s data gathering process, as persistent inquiries from researchers have helped convince governments to ratify and to better implement the treaty, and non-state actors to recognize the norm established by the treaty.

Fifth Meeting of States Parties: TWG members participating in the 5MSP in Bangkok, Thailand in September 2003 released Landmine Monitor Report 2003 and used the meeting to raise key ICBL issues of concern, successfully lobbying for the meeting to recommend that States Parties reach common understandings on these issues by the time of the First Review Conference. The TWG chair served as the Head of the ICBL delegation to the meeting and delivered the ICBL statement to the Plenary. TWG members made interventions in other working sessions and also participated in opening and closing day press briefing and several media events.

Intersessional Work: In close coordination with the ICBL's Intersessional Program Officer, the TWG chair continued to organize ICBL participation in two intersessional groups, the Standing Committees on Stockpile Destruction and on General Status and Operation of the Convention. The ICBL played a prominent role in these SCs, providing relevant information, clearly stating NGO positions and concerns, and recommending specific actions that the SCs and participating States Parties could carry out.

General Status: The TWG chair, Human Rights Watch, and the Intersessional Program Officer closely worked with SC co-chairs and co-rapporteurs, especially Dutch Ambassador Chris Sanders, to ensure that key items of interest to the ICBL were discussed in this SC’s meetings, especially those including Article 1 (interpretation of “assist”), Article 2 (definitions, particularly antivehicle mines with antihandling devices and sensitive fuzes), Article 3 (mines retained for training), Article 7 (transparency reporting), Article 8 (compliance), and Article 9 (national implementation measures). The chair spoke and issued Landmine Monitor fact sheets on these articles at both the February and June 2004 meetings. The TWG chair, together with the ICRC, urged States Parties to use a non-paper on Articles 1, 2, and 3 as the basis for further discussions, so that States Parties reach common understandings on these articles by the time of the Review Conference in 2004, if not sooner.

Stockpile Destruction: The TWG chair presented a global overview of stockpiles and stockpile destruction efforts at both meetings at the invitation of the SC co-chairs Italy and Guatemala, a standard practice since 1999. Landmine Monitor also issued fact sheets on stockpile destruction progress and challenges. An issue raised frequently by the TWG chair was resolved in 2004 when Turkmenistan agreed to destroy approximately 69,000 antipersonnel mines, which were initially retained for training, by the time of the Nairobi Summit.

United Nations General Assembly: In 2003, the ICBL circulated updates to its membership on UNGA Resolution 58/53, which urged universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. The resolution secured 153 votes in favor, none against, and 23 abstentions.

Convention on Conventional Weapons: Several ICBL members, including the TWG chair, participated in CCW meetings on Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) and Mines Other Than Anti-Personnel Mines (MOTAPM) during 2003 and 2004, as well as the Fifth Annual Conference of the States Parties to Amended Protocol II on 26 November 2003. The ICBL has stated its view that the CCW is a useful international instrument for addressing humanitarian and conventional weapons issues if its work is efficiently conducted and accompanied by political will. After one year of negotiations CCW members agreed in December 2003 to a new protocol on Explosive Remnants of War that essentially extends the post-conflict requirements set forth in 1996 Amended Protocol II on landmines to all explosive remnants of war. ICBL members welcomed the agreement as a step forward, but expressed disappointment at its weaknesses, especially the numerous qualifiers and ambiguities.

Several ICBL members are part of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), launched in November 2003, and since December 2001, the ICBL has supported calls to establish a moratorium on the use, production and trade of cluster munitions. Negotiators chose not to address specifically the issue of cluster munitions in the protocol, but agreed to continue discussions in 2004 on “preventive measures,” including those related to cluster munitions, and also antivehicle mines. The ICBL has urged member states to negotiate a legally binding instrument to end the civilian casualties caused by antivehicle mines, and has encouraged all States to examine their national stocks to take steps to eliminate antivehicle mines with sensitive fuses or antihandling devices that cause the mine to function like an antipersonnel mine, as these are already prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty.

During the 2003 and 2004 CCW meetings, the ICBL and other NGOs organized bilateral meetings with a number of non-signatories, as well as various briefings for Conference delegates and the press. TWG members prepared a number of documents for the deliberations. Landmine Action UK issued several reports on explosive remnants of war in 2003, while HRW issued a fact sheet detailing its concerns about actions by Amended Protocol II States Parties. As of September 2004, ten of the sixty-nine States Parties to Amended Protocol II (Landmines) were not signatories or party to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty: China, Finland, India, Israel, Latvia, Morocco, Pakistan, South Korea, Sri Lanka, and the United States.

Conference on Disarmament: The ICBL strongly opposes any effort to deal with antipersonnel mines in the CD, which has not been able to agree on a negotiating mandate since 1997. On 29 July 2004, the US announced its intent to pursue negotiations of an international ban on the sale or export of “persistent” non-self-destructing land mines in the Conference on Disarmament (CD), during the third and final session of the CD for 2004. The ICBL supports the position expressed by Canada that the 42 CD member states that are already part of the Mine Ban Treaty “will not be in a position to enter negotiations on a lesser ban, aimed at arresting trade in one category of antipersonnel mines alone, but implying the acceptability of trade in other categories of these weapons.”[3]

[3] Canadian Statement to Conference on Disarmament Plenary, Geneva, 29 July 2004.