The ICBL is coordinated by a committee of fourteen member organizations, working with a Coordinator, Government Relations Liaison, Resource Center Director and Webmaster. During the past year the ICBL Resource Center moved from Oslo, Norway to Sana’a, Yemen. The center serves campaigns and the public by providing documents, photographs, exhibition materials and other resources and support services to facilitate campaign activities. Over the past year, the ICBL’s website, www.icbl.org, has been regularly and sustantially updated by a small web team led by Webmaster, Kjell Knudsen. The ICBL’s General Meeting—a bi-annual meeting composed of representatives of national campaigns, international organizations and individuals to strategize on how best to further the campaign’s goals—was held last year in Maputo in May 1999 after the First Meeting of States Parties to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. A report of the ICBL’s activities at both the First Meeting of States Parties in Maputo and its Second General Meeting was produced and distributed.
ICBL General Meeting in Maputo, Mozambique
At the General Meeting representatives of the ICBL’s member organizations and country campaigns made major decisions on the ICBL’s strategic direction and activities over the coming year in particular, and over the next five years to the first Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty in 2004. The campaign recommitted itself to ensuring that the words of the treaty are indeed turned into action. While acknowledging that one of the campaign’s objectives had been met with the rapid entry into force of the treaty, the campaign agreed that sustained, aggressive efforts would continue for universalization—convincing recalcitrant nations to accede to the treaty—and to ensure effective implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.
To further those goals, and to develop new and innovative ways to maintain and build momentum around the Mine Ban Treaty, the General Meeting in Maputo set priorities that included:
- Universalization of the ban treaty, redoubling efforts on the previously targeted states of the former Soviet Union and the Middle East/North Africa and adding as a key target the United States, in addition to its continued, unrelenting pressure on all non-signatories to accede to the treaty;
- Implementation of the ban treaty, focusing on some key issues of concern including: how to respond to violations of the ban treaty, pressing for clarity on the issue of antivehicle mines with antihandling devices, joint operations where non-signatories use mines, and continued stockpiling and transit of non-signatory mines in signatory nations;
- Promoting increased funding for sustainable and appropriate mine action programs;
- Promoting increased funding for comprehensive victim assistance programs and greater involvement of mine victims and mine-affected communities in the planning and implementation of such programs;
- Continuing to explore ways to encourage non-state actors to commit to the banning of AP mines;
- Identifying and advocating on moral, legal, and environmental issues relating to landmines and the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty; and
- Committing to ICBL participation in the intersessional work program established in Maputo at the First Meeting of States Parties aligning the ICBL Working Groups with the five Intersessional Standing Committees of Experts (SCEs).
Four permanent working groups and one ad hoc working group of the ICBL lead these efforts to address the various aspects of the humanitarian landmines crisis. They are the Treaty Working Group, the Working Group on Victim Assistance, the Mine Action Working Group, and the Non-State Actors Working Group, as well as the ad-hoc Ethics and Justice Working Group. Part of the agenda of the General Meeting was dedicated to the development of working group action plans.
Since Landmine Monitor Report 1999, both regional and thematic conferences have been held to continue to build public awareness and further various aspects of the ban movement. Regional conferences, either held by ICBL members or where ICBL members participated, took place in Azerbaijan, Belarus (on stockpile destruction), Croatia, Egypt, Georgia, Malaysia and Slovenia. National seminars or workshops were held in India, Iran, Japan, Nepal, Nigeria, and the U.S. As for thematic conferences, members of the ICBL held a follow-up conference in Germany to continue to develop the Bad Honnef concept of mine action and development, while others held a conference in Switzerland to engage non-state actors in the landmine ban. New campaigners in countries including Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Chile, Iran, Nigeria, Poland, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Syria, and Togo have begun activities, as has a new group, Refugees Against Landmines, among Chechen refugees in Georgia; new work is also being carried out in Nagorno-Karabakh. Two meetings of Landmine Monitor researchers also provided opportunities for ICBL sessions to introduce new researchers to the ICBL, hone advocacy skills and further strategize regionally and thematically.
The second anniversary of the opening for signature of the Mine Ban Treaty galvanized campaigners into action worldwide. On 3 December 1999, which appropriately coincides with the International Day for Disabled Persons, activities were held around the globe, from theater and basketball games between disabled teams in Angola, to exhibits in South Korea and special hockey matches in the US. Similarly the first anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty on 1 March 2000 further spurred action worldwide. A concerted Ratification Campaign included a coordinated letter-writing campaign with other partners, embassy visits, and various activities and media events in thirty-three countries around the world.
Additionally, ICBL members undertook a number of advocacy and awareness-building missions, including to Kosovo, Korea, United Arab Emirates, and Belgium (for the European Council and Parliament). The ICBL sent letters to heads of state and engaged in other advocacy activities on the occasions of international events such as the Francophone summit in Moncton, New Brunswick; the UN General Assembly in New York; the Special Summit of the European Council on the establishment of an area of Freedom, Security and Justice in Finland; the Helsinki Summit of the European Union; the Organization of American States Summit; the Organization of African Unity Summit; the Inter-Parliamentary Union; and the Assembly of African Francophone Parliamentarians. Letters to heads of state were also sent on the occasions of the 3 December and 1 March anniversaries urging governments to accede to or ratify the treaty, destroy their stocks, submit their transparency report as required under Article 7, and increase funding for mine action and victim assistance. Letters were also sent prior to the two meetings of the Intersessional Standing Committee of Experts on the General Status and Operation of the Convention highlighting issues of concern to the ICBL in preparation for the meetings.
The ICBL also issued regular Action Alerts. One such alert related to an incident in which a state-owned Romanian company, Romtehnica, offered AP mines for sale at an arms fair in the United Kingdom, and another to an incident in which state-owned Pakistan Ordnance Factories offered AP mines for sale to a British journalist posing as a company representative. Another alert called for efforts to stop funding for a new U.S. mine system containing both antipersonnel and antitank mines (RADAM). An Action Alert was also issued at the prospect of Russia mining its border (in Chechnya) with Georgia; a letter was sent as well to President Putin. There were several Ratification Campaign Action Alerts circulated, prior to 1 March 2000 and again in June 2000, in anticipation of the Second Meeting of States Parties to be held in September.
The ICBL and the Intersessional Work of the Mine Ban Treaty
During its General Meeting the Campaign committed to significant ICBL participation in the intersessional work program established in Maputo at the First Meeting of States Parties. ICBL Working Groups take the lead in liaising with the five Intersessional Standing Committees of Experts (SCEs). The intersessional work program strives to consolidate and concentrate global mine action efforts, without duplicating existing efforts, and to highlight the role of the Mine Ban Treaty as a comprehensive framework for mine action. The five SCEs seek to facilitate the implementation of provisions of the Mine Ban Treaty. The SCE process is conducted with input, recommendations, and action points resulting from NGO-IO-government collaboration.
The five Standing Committees of Experts (SCEs) on Victim Assistance, Socio-economic Reintegration and Mine Awareness; Mine Clearance; Stockpile Destruction; Technologies for Mine Action; and the General Status and Operation of the Convention each met two times in the “intersessional” period between the FMSP and the upcoming meeting in September. Action points for the various SCEs have been identified and work on them is ongoing.
At the SCE Meetings on General Status and Operation of the Convention the ICBL, through the leadership of its Treaty Working Group, highlighted five issues of concern which were discussed during the two meetings: antivehicle mines with antihandling devices (definitions), mines retained for training and development, the need for comprehensive Article 7 reporting, the obligation of national implementation measures, and foreign stockpiles and transit of mines and joint operations with non-signatory states in which AP mines could be used.
At the SCE meetings on Technologies and Mine Clearance, the ICBL Mine Action Working Group, as well as its member mine clearance organizations, made concrete and informative interventions on the five thematic topics discussed by the SCE, including: “Standards and Criteria,” “Measures of Impact and Benefit,” “Planning and Prioritization,” “Coordination,” and “Building National Capacity.”
The ICBL Victim Assistance Working Group, as well as its member organizations, made concrete and informative presentations and interventions during the SCE on issues discussed in the five “Network Groups” and an additional group on mine awareness established at the September SCE meeting. These groups include: mine awareness (ICBL and ICRC), victim assistance draft reporting forms (Handicap International and ICBL), victim assistance guidelines (Mexico and Nicaragua), victim assistance portfolio (ICBL), data collection (GICHD), and donor coordination (Sweden).
The intersessional work is an important mechanism to measure progress made in the full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty and the ICBL has reaffirmed its commitment to full participation in this process.