|Updated: 18-Nov-2004||NATO Speeches|
17 Nov. 2004
on Landmine Monitor Report 2004
MODERATOR: … who are here to present the Landmine Monitor Report. This has become a small tradition at this organization, and we're very proud that it has taken place. I think you're all familiar with Miss Jody Williams, the first Nobel Prize winner I've ever introduced. That's the closest I'll get to a Nobel Prize, but I'll take what I can get. She has just met with the Secretary General.
We also have with us Steve Goose, who is the executive director of Human Rights Watch and who is responsible in many ways for this report and will give a detailed report on it. And we have, to the left, someone with whom you are all very familiar, Robert Simmons, who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary General of Political Affairs and Security Policy here at NATO and is in many ways responsible for what NATO does as part of our efforts to contribute to the landmine effort.
So let me, without further ado, please turn the floor over to Jody… Oh, to Stan. Excuse me.
STAN BRABANT (Handicap International): Good afternoon. Thank you.
This press conference is going to take place in English, but we would be very happy to take questions in other languages afterwards if you wish.
Landmine Monitor is a unique and unprecedented civil-society-based mechanism that was developed by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines to assess the international community's response to the landmine crisis, in particular in relation to the 1997 treaty that bans anti-personnel mines. This year's report is of major importance, both because it provides a five-year review and because we release it a few days before the Nairobi Summit on a Mine-free World that shall begin on the 29th of November in Kenya.
This year's cover features a photo of Umar Eskief(?), a 13-year-old teenager who stepped on an anti-personnel mine on his way home from selling milk at the market in Grozny, Chechnya. Alone at the time of the incident, he crawled to a main road and a passing vehicle took him to a hospital where his leg had to be amputated. His story is the kind of story that still happens somewhere in the world every 30 minutes.
On this podium today we have some of the key actors of the struggle to rid the world of anti-personnel mines. We shall begin this press conference with an overview of the major findings of this report by its chief editor, Steve Goose. We shall then turn to NATO, and with Mr. Simmons we shall look at what NATO as a military alliance does to address the challenges raised by this report. We shall then conclude this press conference with forward-looking thoughts about the Nairobi summit as well as a conclusion by Jody Williams.
We are winning the war against anti-personnel mines. Astounding progress has been made over the course of the past five years and indeed the past 10 years in eradicating the anti-personnel mine. Virtually every measure of progress that you can look at is positive. This does not mean that huge challenges don't remain. Indeed, many of us are convinced that the next five years will be more important and more difficult than the past five years have been. But, if we look at the record since 1999, we find that more and more countries are accepting the comprehensive ban on anti-personnel mines, more and more countries are becoming states parties to the international treaty, and, just as important, countries who are staying outside of the treaty thus far are largely complying with its provisions. We are seeing that an international norm against the anti-personnel mine is taking firm hold throughout the world where any use or possession of this weapon is rejected by the international community.
Use of anti-personnel mines has decreased dramatically since 1999. The first Landmine Monitor Report, published in 1999, confirmed use of anti-personnel mines by 15 governments. We suspected that even more were using, but we had confirmed use by 15 governments. In this most recent edition, we can cite only four governments… that's four too many, but we can cite only four governments who were confirmed using anti-personnel mines in the period of 2003 and most of 2004. Those four are Russia, Burma, Georgia and Nepal.
Looking at the five-year period, there are only two governments who have used anti-personnel mines on a regular and consistent basis each and every year, those two being Russia and Burma. There was only one massive mine-laying operation during this five-year period, and that is when India and Pakistan engaged in a mutual stand-off in 2000-2001 and laid, we believe, millions of mines on their common border, most of those being laid by India.
This is a very different situation than we had in the 1960s or '70s or '80s or early '90s, when millions of mines were being laid each and every year by dozens of governments. A stigma has been attached to this weapon, and even those who don't join the treaty are reluctant to use it.
We have seen a de facto global ban on trade in anti-personnel mines.
We know of no instance of significant transfer of anti-personnel mines
since the mid 1990s. There is certainly still a low level of illegal,
illicit, black-market trade in the weapon (we don't even find many cases
of that) but there has been no acknowledged legal trade in the weapon
by any country, including those outside of the treaty. Many of the non-states
parties to the treaty have formal moratoria or bans on export, including
countries like the United States, Russia, China, India, Pakistan. All
have legal prohibitions on export.
We see that mine clearance programs are proliferating. Mines are coming out of the ground in ever-greater numbers. There is now some form or mine clearance in 65 of the 83 countries that are affected by anti-personnel mines. Mine clearance has become a much more sophisticated operation than in the past. We see increasingly that mine clearance is aimed at helping communities, done through a humanitarian perspective, and increasingly within a development context. These are all very positive developments in the fight against anti-personnel mines.
Funding for mine clearance and other mine action programs… When we speak of "mine action", that includes clearance and mine risk education, assistance to the victims of landmines. Funding for mine clearance has expanded greatly. Over the course of the past decade, actually 12 years or so, some $2.1-billion has been donated by the international community to mine clearance around the world. The vast majority of that has come in the past five years, about $1.35-billion over the course of the past five years. Funding since before the treaty was signed has almost tripled.
We, perhaps most importantly, have seen that the number of new mine victims each year has gone down, particularly in the most mine-affected countries where we have the best data about the number of casualties. The casualty rate has dropped dramatically in countries like Afghanistan and Cambodia and Bosnia and elsewhere. This, of course, is our objective; no new mine victims. And, when we see the casualty rates coming down as a result of effective mine clearance programs, as a result of effective mine risk education programs, as a result of fewer mines being put into the ground, when we see that happening then that's our greatest measure of success.
There are still many, many challenges ahead. There are 42 countries who have not yet signed or ratified the Mine Ban Treaty. The United States, Russia and China are among them. Few states in the Middle East and few among the former Soviet republics have come onboard. At the current rate of clearance and spending… as much as they've increased, at the current rates it's going to be very difficult for many of the Mine Ban Treaty states parties to meet their deadlines for mine clearance. In addition to the requirement to get rid of stockpiles within four years, the treaty requires that you get… that you clear all mined areas within 10 years. For the first states parties, that deadline comes up in 2009. We're halfway there, and many of the mine-affected countries are nowhere close to halfway through the clearance of their mined land.
Providing adequate and long-term assistance to landmine survivors will be, in the end run, perhaps the greatest challenge, and it's the area in which the least progress has been made. While overall funding has gone up greatly, funding directed for the victims has in fact decreased slightly in the past five years and we haven't seen the kind of progress in that area that is necessary for the long run.
I think that I will stop there. There are a lot more details about how states parties have or have not complied fully with all of the provisions of the Mine Ban Treaty. We'd be happy to take questions on those, but perhaps, in trying to keep to our timetable and allowing you maximum time for questions, I'll stop at that point.
ROBERT SIMMONS (Deputy Assistant Secretary General, NATO): Thank you.
Not all NATO and EAPC countries are signatories to the Ottawa Convention, but all nations within the alliance and our partnerships are actively engaged in an ad hoc group to deal with anti-personnel landmines and small arms and light weapons, and to assist NATO efforts both to remove and to eliminate anti-personnel landmines. NATO-led forces in the Balkans and Afghanistan have taken the lead in both of the regions where they have security operations in clearing landmines laid by others. In the Balkans, it is estimated that NATO has cleared over 120,000 anti-personnel landmines, and removed or cleared over 26-million square metres of that region. ISAF forces are doing the same in the areas in which they're operating around Kabul and in other areas where the PRTs operate in that country.
In addition to this work by our forces, the NATO trust funds have helped partners destroy their stockpiles and to meet the obligations under Article 4 of the Ottawa Convention. Each trust fund is led and funded on a voluntary basis by NATO and partner countries. In the four years since it was established, trust funds have helped to destroy more than 2-million anti-personnel landmines in Albania, Moldova, Tajikistan and Ukraine.
Last month we launched two new projects in Belarus and Serbia. A project for anti-personnel landmine stockpile destruction in Afghanistan was conducted in Kabul earlier this year in partnership with ISAF, the UN and the government. Work to prepare a trust fund for Afghanistan is in the preparatory stage. Our project in Belarus alone will destroy more than 4-million anti-personnel landmines, the majority being so-called "butterfly" landmines which are among the most dangerous types. We believe that this is the first large-scale project to destroy this type of weapon. Our second project to destroy stockpiles in Serbia and Montenegro will contribute significantly to making the whole of South Eastern Europe mine-free. When these two projects are completed, the trust funds directed by NATO will have destroyed more than 8-million anti-personnel landmines.
We recognize the leading role played by the United Nations and NGOs such as our guests today, and we look forward to co-operating with them as we move forward on the overall trust funds and in making the report to the Nairobi convention. We have on our website details of the specific trust funds projects, but we are pleased to be a host of this and to make our own contribution in this regard to the destruction of landmines.
JODY WILLIAMS (1997 Nobel Prize winner): I'll wrap with just a couple of comments about Nairobi and multilateralism and human security.
You've heard mentioned a few times already that we are on the road to
Nairobi. The review conference of the treaty will take place in Nairobi,
Kenya, from the 29th of November to the 3rd of December. As has been
pointed out, it's a very important meeting, not just because we will
be assessing our progress in the first five years of the life of the
treaty but because we will be charting the way forward to 2009, which,
as Steve has pointed out, is an incredibly critical date because that
is a time limit where governments are supposed to have de-mined their
country if they have a problem of landmines contaminating their territory.
So, how we come out of Nairobi, figuring out how we're going to tackle
that serious challenge of mine clearance by the deadline of 2009 and
increased resources for survivor assistance is a big challenge for Nairobi.
I think part of the reason that we were successful in mobilizing global support on this issue was because people recognize it's a "do-able", as we say in English. If the international community and all its members, NATO, work together, we really can deal with this one problem. I think that it's a very clear example of how multilateralism can work.
When we started the landmine campaign in early… late '91, early '92, I don't think anybody thought that we would see this global treaty where we have 143 nations that are part of it, another nine that have signed and are on the road to ratification, all of the progress that we've seen that Steve has described. I know personally, because I was one of the first, the most we thought would be maybe we would be able to help a few mine victims around the world, and, if we did that, that would be great alone. Instead, we have created a hybrid treaty which is a cross between arms control and humanitarian law that actually functions in today's world.
Through co-operative compliance by governments, civil society, ICRC, agencies like NATO working together to make sure the treaty is implemented and obeyed, I believe that we have really put forth a solid model of a different way to approach problems in the world today. The continued success of the Mine Ban Treaty, called micro-disarmament by some, is a clear indicator that, if everybody in the partnership brings their expertise to the table, you can have success and you can make international law function. It underscores what I believe is the way forward in this very troubled world; that we all need to find ways to work together to address the problems that affect us all. No one power, no one agency has the possibility to deal with the issues that affect every one of our lives, and part of what we have done in the landmine campaign is underscore the right and the role of civil society to have a meaningful partnership in addressing the problems that are facing us all on this planet. I'm not giving up my right to help decide how I'm going to live on this planet. That's part of what we've done in this campaign, and I believe that that continued partnership between governments and civil society lends additional credence to the fact that multilateralism works, that international law is meaningful, that if we continue to work together we will see a world with no landmines and no new landmine victims.
And I appreciate the part that NATO is playing. Most of the members of NATO are part of the Mine Ban Treaty. It's an important contribution, the Partnership for Peace Program and destroying stocks before they ever get in the ground to take new victims, and I appreciate that they have allowed us, two times now, to launch the Monitor here. And, as the Secretary General just said when we met with him, "Welcome to the house." Part of the message is the medium, and we appreciate the medium of NATO for launching this year's Landmine Monitor on the road to Nairobi.
So, thank you. And thank you all for coming.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
Before I turn the floor over to questions, let me just say that in fact
the medium is indeed the message, and NATO hosting this meeting reflects
how much NATO as an alliance and NATO nations believe in the efforts
and the directions that the international campaign has set out, and indeed
are playing a role in implementing it, so we're very glad to host you
because we are very much on the same song sheet.
Q: Leon Bruneau, Agence France Presse. Just a technical question to make sure I understood it correctly. You're saying in your report that there is more or less a little over 8,000 new victims per year from landmines, but, since a lot of the accidents are not reported, you estimate the number to actually be between and 15,000 and 20,000 each year. Is that correct?
GOOSE: Yes, that is correct. We know that we can't capture all of the casualties that occur. There simply aren't adequate reporting mechanisms in too many countries. Even in countries that have the best reporting mechanisms, like Cambodia or Afghanistan, you can't at all be certain of having a complete total because too many accidents happen in remote areas, too many victims never make it to a hospital, they never make it to a roster of those who have been killed or injured.
We have a much greater capacity for tracking those that we're able to record than in the past. It used to be a lot of guesswork. Now we actually have sheets for each country and a very extensive collection mechanism, but we still know that we're not getting the complete total. So, we're able to cite the precise number of recorded victims, but we know that the real number is much higher, thus we see in recent years the recorded number has usually been slightly over 8,000 but we estimate that the total number is closer to 15,000 or 20,000.
This is still a very significant decrease from the commonly cited global total of more than 26,000 that the ICRC came up with in the early 1990s and which led us to our estimate of one victim every 20 minutes. That clearly is no longer the case, and what is most encouraging is the places where we have the best information are also the places where we see the casualty rates going down.
Q: Jutendra Joshi(?), also of AFP. What hope, if any, do you hold that some of these holdout countries, the U.S., China, Russia notably, are going to sign on to the treaty anytime soon?
WILLIAMS: I'll start. I'm sure others will have an opinion.
I believe ultimately everybody will be part of the Mine Ban Treaty. I mean, if we look at the short time ago when we launched the campaign…
I remember the very first days when I went to UN missions in New York to meet with governments to begin to discuss the possibility of dealing with landmines, and every single country in the world said the same thing: "Great Utopian idea. Never will happen." We're not that many years outside of when the treaty was negotiated in '97 and we have 143 nations that are party to the treaty.
I believe everybody ultimately will come onboard. Obviously we still have some hard work to do, but, if we look at what has happened through the ban movement, even governments that are not part of the treaty recognize the problem and are contributing to resolving it. China, for example, which never would come to a landmine meeting, which refused to say the word "ban", now comes as an observer to the international meetings. It has stopped the production of landmines for export, doesn't want to contribute to the problem. It has contributed money for mine clearance through the United Nations. It has offered training to mine clearance personnel in other parts of the world. This year it even hosted a landmine conference in China with the ICBL participating. I consider that to be a dramatic change in a country that said, "We will never discuss this with you." And I believe that, if we continue the work that we have done so far, and continue in partnership, ultimately everybody will be part of this treaty.
GOOSE: …add a little bit to that. Virtually every country in the world has said that they endorse the objective of the eventual elimination of all anti-personnel mines. Either through UN General Assembly resolutions or through formal policy statements, they have endorsed a comprehensive ban on anti-personnel mines at some point in the future. Clearly, for many states who are still out there, that date is in the far future and is linked, usually, to the resolution of conflict situations, but virtually every country has endorsed the eventual elimination of all anti-personnel mines.
A recent U.S. policy announcement is the key and very disturbing divergence from that, when the U.S. announced that, while it would get rid of all persistent, long-lasting anti-personnel mines, it intended to keep for the foreseeable future mines that blow themselves up, self-destructing, self-deactivating mines.
Many, many states have taken very significant steps to come into compliance with the treaty even though they're not party to it. Many have talked about how they are in de facto compliance. And then the last thing is just to note that a lot of countries who used to be on that list of those who people thought would never come onboard have indeed come onboard. In the past year… well, since our last report, nine governments have become states parties, including some that no one thought was going to be a state party anytime soon like Belarus, Greece, Turkey, Serbia and Montenegro. These were countries who people doubted would be coming onboard soon and possibly never, and yet they are now full states parties, and we're making progress in many other states as well. We think that there is another half a dozen or so who are poised to come onboard in the coming weeks and months, and we're working for the longer term view on the 20 or so who will be long-term holdouts.
Q: Peter Mueller from European Security and Defence. Landmine Monitor and looking here in your book, that speaks only for anti-personnel mines. I think there are also a lot of other types of mines who are very dangerous for… also for civilians, and the development of mines… self-destructing mines after 24 hours, I think that's not very peaceful and I think is also very dangerous for people. What is your experience, and what is your vision and what is your expectation?
GOOSE: There are two basic types of mines, if you don't count sea mines. There are anti-personnel mines and anti-vehicle mines, often times called anti-tank mines. The Mine Ban Treaty only prohibits anti-personnel mines. That was all it was ever aimed at doing.
The land mine campaign, the ICBL, has only called for the elimination
of anti-personnel mines. That doesn't mean that we don't recognize
and other governments... and that governments don't recognize the
that are posed by anti-vehicle mines as well.
We do actually report quite a bit on anti-vehicle mines. We report
on the casualties to anti-vehicle mines; we report on efforts to
mines. Certainly the organizations in the ICBL who do mine clearance
remove anti-vehicle mines as well as anti-personnel mines. You certainly
don't just go after one instead of the other.
MODERATOR: First here, then there.
Q: (Inaudible) Skekolkin(?) from news agency. If I'm wrong, just correct me. I have got such information that to load mine costs like $2 dollars, but to destroy it, it costs like $200 dollars. So that back in Angola I saw the company, private company, which was consisting from the white guys from South African Republic. When we were speaking -
(BREAK IN TRANSMISSION)
... so that the question is are you going to put some pressure on the countries who are producing or using the mines, just to ask them to maybe to make more contribution to the international funds or to destroy those mine fields they loaded by their own means? Thank you.
WILLIAMS: I'll start with an answer. I think... when we first launched
this effort one of the considerations was trying to hold past users
responsible for cleaning up their mine fields. That was a non-starter.
If that had
been part of the Mine Ban Treaty as a legal obligation, it would not
have gone anywhere.
There was a... at certain points different of our NGOs tried to sue producers to make them responsible for paying for mine survivors; that did not work either. I think that the most we are going to see in our effort is continuing to put pressure on governments to have them voluntarily contribute and I think part of what, when we talk about the continued success coming out of Nairobi, is getting government's who come there to make clear public commitments of their ongoing support for mine clearance and victim's assistance until the job is done. But trying to do a legal obligation was not possible.
GOOSE: I'll add just a tiny bit to that. Most of the countries who were the big users of anti-personnel mines don't have many resources to devote to clearance and require international assistance in order to be able to clear their mine fields.
As Jody mentioned, we have put an awful lot of pressure on producer states over the years. I don't think I said in my opening remarks about how production is also fallen off tremendously in recent years. We can only count 15 producers around the world now. There used to be more than 50 governments that produced anti-personnel mines. That list has now dwindled to, at most, 15.
Some of the states who are not party to the treaty have already foresworn production, Finland being an example; Israel being another case in point. And some of those 15 that we count haven't produces for quite a few years. The United States hasn't produced since 1997 for example, but we still keep them on our list of producers because they reserve the right to produce in the future. Similar situation with South Korea that hasn't produced in a number of years... or Egypt.
So between the dramatic drop in production and the complete cut-off in trade, you really don't have that same angle that you're talking about of people who are busy manufacturing these weapons and then providing them to other governments and armies where they get used on a large scale. That just doesn't happen anymore.
SIMMONS: Can I just say a point on that from NATO's point of view? As you know with the change of the alliance, we have very much transformed our self into an alliance trying to promote stability and security. And in that context, we believe both were we have operations clearing mines and in countries that are our partners destroying the mines, is an important contribution to stability and security.
I'm not sure you would win that kind of contribution as a sense of
- well, you might have used them in the past - but we do believe
this is an important part of our contribution to stability and security
in the regions that we're dealing with and that's why we're doing it
and why it's important to us and why we're pleased to host this.
Q: Tariq Mahmoud from the Middle East News Agency. We are talking new mines or new mine fields, but what about the mines from the time of the Second World War or the First World War? Are you dealing with it? Do you have sort of... action or way to handle this?
WILLIAMS: I don't see that the mines from the Second World War are any more or less important than the mines from the internal conflict of Cambodia or whatever. The inability to hold governments accountable for past use is all conflicts before the Mine Ban Treaty.
I am very aware of some of the Middle Eastern countries, in particular Egypt, I went to Egypt; I was there. I went with the Ministry of Defence of Egypt to El Alamein so that they could demonstrate the battlefield 60 years after the end of World War II and make the claim that others should be held accountable for clean-up.
I think there is some justification for the argument, but the reality is that is not what has happened in the world. What has happened in the world is the international community is willing to contribute to cleaning up mine fields when a nation joins the Mine Ban Treaty to demonstrate that they are not going to use mines again.
If I'm a donor country and I'm going to decide between - am I going to give money to Cambodia or Angola to get the mines out of the ground or am I going to give it to Egypt - I'm going to go with the countries that have signed the treaty that are destroying their stockpiles and that are demonstrating they'll never use them again in the future.
And we have consistently said to countries like Egypt if you join,
you will probably get international support. I recall some of the
of the Mine Ban Treaty actually entering into this discussion with
the Egyptian government on exactly that point.
Everybody makes the argument they're unique; we make the argument in the Mine Ban Treaty you're all the same. The weapon's illegal for everybody; join the treaty we'll help you get them out of the ground.
Q: Paul Ames for the Associated Press. Given the success that you've told us about today with regard to anti-personnel mines, have you not given any thought to widening your campaign to take in some other weapons, and I'm thinking particularly perhaps of cluster bombs which have been blamed for creating many similar problems to those caused by anti-personnel mines?
GOOSE: The land mine campaign has had discussions almost since its inception about whether or not it should broaden out to cover other weapons, including anti-vehicle mines, including cluster munitions, and we have also come back to the central point that our strength has been our focus on getting rid of anti-personnel mines, number one.
And number two that there still was too much work to be done on anti-personnel mines to divert our attention and our resources other problematic weapons or issues. So the land mine campaign has stayed focused on anti-personnel mines.
Having said that, the campaign has also endorsed the efforts to try to come to grips with the humanitarian problems caused by cluster munitions. As you may know, an NGO coalition, the Cluster Munition Coalition, was launched just about a year ago in The Hague. The Secretary General and his previous incarnation in fact spoke at that launch of the Cluster Munition Coalition.
That coalition, I suppose not coincidentally, is headed up primarily by organizations that have been key to the international campaign to ban land mines. But they're doing it under a different hat in a different format, drawing from different resources than the land mine campaign.
So yes, individuals and organizations involved in the land mine campaign are very involved with cluster munitions, some with anti-vehicle mines, some with other weapons and more issues. But the campaign itself is staying focused on the still huge job of eradicating anti-personnel mines.
Q: (Inaudible) ... Can you tell us about the country's which are the main producers and the main exporters of mines?
GOOSE: There are no exporters. No country in the world acknowledges exporting anti-personnel mines any longer. In the past we identified some 36 countries that exported many millions of mines around the world. All of those have either banned export or have a moratorium on export or have made formal policy statements against export. The one exception being Iraq and we'd like to see the new government there make such a statement sometime soon.
In terms of production it's very difficult to know how many mines are being produced by these countries, the 15 that we have identified still as being producers. Certainly in the past Russian, China and the United States were the biggest producers. Some of the other biggest producers have banned production. They've joined the Mine Ban Treaty; European countries as well as some others.
Among the producers who are still out there, we still list Russia and China and the United States, even though as I mentioned before the U.S. hasn't produced for a number of years, Vietnam is still a producer of anti-personnel mines; we still list South Korea.
But there is no one country that you can point to that is clearly rolling hundreds of thousands or millions of anti-personnel mines off of production lines each and every year. Many have stopped; many have paused; many have prohibited production of certain types of mines. Russian, for example, has stopped production of its most dangerous type of mines - the PMN blast mines.
So this is another front where we've seen really much more progress than problem over the course of the past five to ten years.
Once disturbing trend that we've seen is that some of the government's who haven't joined the Mine Ban Treaty, but are party to another legal regime, the Convention on Conventional Weapons that I mentioned earlier, have stared producing new mines to meet the technical requirements of that piece of international law that requires mines to be detectable and sometimes blow themselves up.
So India and Pakistan for example, have renewed production in order to have so-called better mines and we oppose that very much. We think a treaty that won't let you produce at all is a lot better than a treaty that lets you produce certain mines that may be somewhat less dangerous to civilian populations.
MODERATOR: If that's all the questions that we have, let me conclude by once again thanking all of the participants here today in the international campaign to ban land mines to wish them all the best -