Human Rights Watch World Report 2000 - International campaign to ban landmines

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), launched in 1992 by Human Rights Watch and five other organizations, continued to expand its size and activities. It is now comprised of over 1,400 organizations in ninety countries worldwide. It brings together human rights, humanitarian demining and victim assistance, children's, peace, disability, veterans, medical, development, arms control, religious, environmental, and women's groups who work locally, nationally, regionally, and internationally to ban antipersonnel (AP) landmines. The ICBL is coordinated by a committee of fourteen organizations, including Human Rights Watch, which remained one of the most active campaign members. The ICBL and Human Rights Watch Arms Division advisory board member Jody Williams were co-recipients of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.

The ICBL continued its intense pace of global activity advocating for the complete eradication of antipersonnel mines, primarily through the universalization and effective implementation of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. The ICBL undertook new initiatives to monitor the treaty, and to enhance mine clearance and victim assistance programs. New campaigns were launched in more than a dozen countries, including in the problematic areas targeted by the ICBL in 1999: the Middle East/North Africa region and the former Soviet states. Regional or thematic conferences promoting a ban were held in Mexico, Tunisia, Lebanon, Norway, South Africa, Indonesia, Mozambique, Kenya, Germany, Croatia, Somaliland, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. ICBL members undertook special advocacy missions to Kosovo, Georgia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Nicaragua, Honduras, and elsewhere. The ICBL also put greater emphasis on its efforts to educate non-state actors and encourage them to commit to a comprehensive mine ban.

In a crowning achievement the Mine Ban Treaty entered into force on March 1, 1999 thereby becoming binding international law more quickly than any major treaty ever. Early entry into force had been a major objective of, and focus of activities for, the ICBL and pro-ban governments. In the first nine months of 1999, the number of governments ratifying the treaty, and thereby becoming full state parties, rose from fifty-eight to eighty-six. Among those were nations where mines had been extensively used, such as Cambodia, Uganda, and Tunisia, and nations which formerly produced and exported mines, such as Argentina and Spain. Two new countries signed the treaty: Ukraine, with the world's fourth largest stockpile of AP mines, and Lithuania, the first Baltic nation.

Some key countries continued to refuse to join the ban treaty, including the United States, Russia, and China. One Mine Ban Treaty signatory, Angola, used mines extensively, as did UNITA rebel forces there. There were highly disturbing allegations of new use of mines by Russia in Dagestan, and in the Pakistan-India and Eritrea-Ethiopia conflicts, as well as other locations.

During the First Meeting of States Parties to the ban treaty in May in Onlineuto, Mozambique, the ICBL launched the Landmine Monitor Report 1999: Toward a Mine-Free World. The 1,100-page report contained information on every country in the world with respect to mine use, production, trade, stockpiling, humanitarian demining, and mine survivor assistance. Landmine Monitor is an unprecedented initiative by the ICBL to monitor implementation of and compliance with the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, and more generally to assess the efforts of the international community to resolve the landmines crisis. It is the first time that nongovernmental organizations are coming together in a coordinated, systematic, and sustained way to monitor a humanitarian law or disarmament treaty, and to regularly document progress and problems. The Landmine Monitor system is coordinated by five ICBL members, with Human Rights Watch serving as the lead agency.

In Onlineuto, governments, in close cooperation with the ICBL, established an "intersessional" work program to ensure that progress is made in implementing the treaty in between the annual meetings of States Parties. The ICBL Working Groups on the treaty (chaired by Human Rights Watch), mine clearance, and victim assistance worked closely with the five new Intersessional Standing Committees of Experts (SCEs). The partnership between pro-ban governments and nongovernmental organizations that resulted in the historic ban treaty continued to function so that the words on paper would become a reality.

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