+   *    +     +     
About Us 
The Issues 
Our Research Products 
Order Publications 
Press Room 
Resources for Monitor Researchers 
Table of Contents
Country Reports
Landmine Monitor: Commonwealth of Independent States ICBL/Landmine Monitor Meeting

Commonwealth of Independent States ICBL/Landmine Monitor Meeting

Baku, Azerbaijan,
7-9 November 2002

International Campaign To Ban Landmines (ICBL) members from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region of the former Soviet Union met in Baku, Azerbaijan from 7-9 November 2002 to discuss their research for Landmine Monitor Report 2003. This was the first in a series of meetings planned to prepare the fifth annual report of the ICBL's Landmine Monitor initiative.

On Thursday 7 November, the meeting opened with a plenary session/press conference featuring remarks by Hafiz Safikhanov, Coordinator of the Azerbaijan Campaign to Ban Landmines; Roman Dolgov of IPPNW-Russia, Landmine Monitor's Russia researcher; and Mary Wareham, Landmine Monitor Global Research Coordinator. Representatives of ANAMA, UNICEF, ICRC, Oxfam UK and Rädda Barnen participated in the opening session. The meeting received good media coverage, including national and regional television.

Key mine action practitioners briefed the group on their activities in Azerbaijan including: Dr. Shamsaddin Khudaverdiyev, the director of the Baku-based National Orthopedic Hospital; Allen Jelich of the Survey Action Center; Musa Jalalov, UNICEF's mine risk education officer for Azerbaijan; and Nazim Ismayilov, the director, and other staff of the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA). Azerbaijan is mine-affected from the 1992-1994 conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, which saw the country lose 20 percent of its territory and resulted in one million internally displaced persons. Azerbaijan also suffers from explosive remnants of war leftover from Soviet times.

On Friday 8 November, the participants traveled by train to Horadiz in Fizuli region in the far west of the country, ten kilometers north of the Iranian border. They met with the Chief Administrator of Fizuli region, Nabi Mukhrarov, to discuss the socio-economic impact of the weapon on local communities. The regional ANAMA office hosted the ICBL field visit, showing participants their facilities and providing lunch and a meeting room. The group met with the regional director, Tariel Gakhramanov, and Shahin Ibrahimov, director of the non-governmental demining organization Relief Azerbaijan. The participants visited a Relief Azerbaijan/ANAMA mine clearance operation on a hillside by a village being rebuilt for returning IDPs.

On Saturday 9 November, the group met for two hours with the deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Araz Azimov. They urged Azerbaijan to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, but also outlined steps the country could take to show its support for the antipersonnel mine ban. These measures included: 1) participate in key diplomatic and mine action Ottawa Process meetings; 2) vote in support of the annual pro-mine ban United Nations General Assembly Resolution (instead of abstaining as Azerbaijan has done since 1996); 3) consider following the Greece-Turkey example by joining the treaty at the same time as neighbouring Armenia; and 4) increase transparency on the part of government authorities and mine action practitioners and cooperate more with non-governmental organizations, including the AZCBL. The Minister agreed to act on points one, two and four, but gave a detailed reply on why it was not possible at this time to take on the third suggestion.

While the group met at various points, the main Landmine Monitor/ICBL meeting took place on Saturday 9 November at the hotel. Each researcher/campaigner from the region discussed their recent activities and plans. They answered specific questions from the Landmine Monitor research coordinators (ban, mine action, mine casualties, and regional) and the ICBL government relations officer, and received training by the ICBL webmaster on Internet research and advocacy tools and presentation of their reports. The participants agreed to accept the generous invitation made by IPPNW- Kyrgyzstan to meet next in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in early November 2003.

Seven researchers participated in the Baku meeting for the following countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Ukraine. The Abkhazia, Armenia and Chechnya researchers did not attend. The meeting was held at Absheron Hotel. The participants are grateful to the Azerbaijan Committee of the International Humanitarian Movement Refugees Against Landmines, the Institute for Peace and Democracy, and other members of the Azerbaijan Campaign to Ban Landmines for hosting the meeting, especially Hafiz Safikhanov, the head of Refugees Against Landmines, for his tireless organizing and Shahla Ismailova for her expert translation.

The next regional ICBL/Landmine Monitor regional meeting will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 11-14 December 2002. Landmine Monitor Report 2003 is due for release on Tuesday, 9 September 2003, just before the Fifth Meeting of States Parties, which will be held in Bangkok, Thailand. For more information, contact the AZCBL at safihanov@box.az or Landmine Monitor at lm@icbl.org. See also www.icbl.org/lm/research/

Posted by Briana Wilson at 17:34, 15 November 2002