|Raja Reza Zaid Shah, Malaysia
|Karol Mistrík, Slovakia
|Philippa King, Australia
|Vice Skracic, Croatia
The Co-Chairs reiterated that the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction continued to be one of the most important in terms of the implementation of the Convention, particularly given the requirement to destroy anti-personnel mine (APL) stockpiles within four years of becoming States Parties (Article 4). Stockpile Destruction is the fifth pillar of mine action and is one of the most effective and cost-efficient means of "preventive mine action".
A further two States Parties have destroyed their stockpiles of anti-personnel landmines since the December 2000 inter-sessional work (Bulgaria in December 2000, and Malaysia in January 2001), bringing the total number of States Parties which have destroyed their stockpiles of anti-personnel landmines to twenty-seven.
The Co-Chairs called on all of those States Parties which have not already done so to destroy their stockpile of landmines as soon as possible. The Co-Chairs reminded delegations that 20 States Parties have only two years left in which to destroy their remaining stockpiles. They reiterated that many States Parties have yet to begin the process of destroying their stockpiles of anti-personnel landmines, and that these States should act fast and not be complacent. It was important to note that many non-signatories to the Convention have made headway on this issue.
The Co-Chairs noted that since December 2000, two seminars on stockpile destruction were held. On February 1-2, 2001 a seminar was held in Budapest, Hungary, on the PFM mine problem faced by certain former Soviet States (Belarus, the Russian Federation and the Ukraine), while on February 15-16, 2001 a seminar was held in Bamako, Mali, on general issues with regard to implementation of the Mine Ban Convention, including a workshop on stockpile destruction. The Co-Chairs also reminded delegations of the forthcoming Antipersonnel Mines Stockpile Destruction Management Training Course, which shall take place in Fribourg, Switzerland, from June 11-15, 2001.
The Co-Chairs noted that in chairing the meeting they would be guided by the principles outlined in the President’s Action Plan, namely:
- providing assistance for stockpile destruction
- improving the exchange of information on stockpile destruction
- and destroying mines in an efficient and environmentally sound manner.
Moderator; Stephen Goose, ICBL
Regional updates Africa
Available information suggests that 23-24 countries in Africa have stockpiles of APLs, including 12-13 States Parties (Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Djibouti, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda – the situation with Tanzania is still unclear as this State Party is yet to submit its first Article VII Report). Four States Parties in the region have completed the destruction of their stockpiles (Mali, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe – no independent confirmation for Namibia yet). Apart from these countries, only three other States Parties in Africa – Guinea-Bissau, Liberia and Uganda – have commenced stockpile destruction. The Moderator noted that, although he believed that the lack of political will in many African countries was not the main reason for the present state of affairs, he would welcome increased participation of African States Parties in the inter-sessional work program, with a view to these countries having the opportunity to air their specific difficulties in regard to, amongst other things, stockpile destruction.
The OAS continues to play a coordinating role in assisting States Parties in the Americas to meet their treaty obligations with respect to stockpile destruction. The regional Stockpile Destruction seminar held in Buenos Aires in November 2000 announced the "Managua Challenge". The seminar was a useful way of stimulating progress on Stockpile Destruction in the region and could be used as a blueprint for other regions around the world. It identified obstacles on the road to completing stockpile destruction programs, which included lack of practical experience, need for technical advice, funding, environmental issues and a lack of national coordination.
The Moderator noted that 12-13 countries in the region (States Parties and non-States Parties alike) continue to have stockpiles of APLs. Four States Parties have completed stockpile destruction; Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Three States Parties – Argentina, Columbia and Peru – and 2 signatory States – Chile and Uruguay, have started the process of stockpile destruction. No information is available on action planned by Brazil or Venezuela.
As is the case with Africa there continues to be a general lack of information for this region. It is understood that at least 17 countries in the region hold an estimated number of 125 million APLs, mostly in non-signatory states. To reiterate, the Asia Pacific region has the number 1, 5 and 6 of ranked nations in terms of the number of APLs stockpiled (China, Pakistan and India respectively), which again underscores the importance of universalizing the treaty.
Five countries from the region have completed their destruction; Australia, Cambodia, Malaysia, New Zealand and the Philippines (although Cambodia informs that from time to time unknown stockpiles are discovered throughout the country, which are then destroyed). Three States Parties are in the process of destroying their stockpiled APLs – Bangladesh, Japan and Thailand.
Fourteen countries in this region have completed destruction of their APLs stockpiles. Destruction programs are under way in the Czech Republic, Italy and Sweden. Destruction has also occurred in Albania, Croatia, Moldova, Netherlands and Slovenia. Bulgaria completed its destruction program in December 2000.
It is believed that at least 16 countries from this region have stockpiles of APL’s. No country in the region has completed the process of stockpile destruction. Jordan and Yemen have started. Very little information is available for this region. Of non-signatories, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Israel are believed to have sizable stockpiles.
Statements by individual States Parties Thailand
eneral Vasu Chanarat of the Thai Armed Forces gave a presentation of the stockpile destruction program in Thailand. The speaker informed the Committee that Thailand has 312,000 stockpiled APLs left to destroy, and that it plans to finish by April 30, 2003. The process cannot be completed any faster due to budgetary reasons; for example, the Government needs to budget for demining operations and victim assistance.
Thailand’s method of destruction consists primarily of open detonation. So as not to disturb the environment, no more than 200 APLs are destroyed at one time. This process is repeated 5 times a day, at a cost of $0.21 USD per mine. Thailand has in this way already destroyed 307,725 APLs, and still has to destroy 312,695. Thailand plans to retain 4,970 APLs under Article 3.
Lt.Col. Bahavndin of Malaysia informed the Committee that Malaysia ratified the Convention on April 22, 1999 and Malaysia adopted the APL Convention Implementation Act (Act 262) the following year. In preparing for the process of stockpile destruction, Malaysian authorities selected destruction sites where minimal environmental damage would occur. Prior to the commencement of destruction, a Board of Officers was selected to ascertain: a) quantity; b) type; c) lot number; and d) batch of APL’s in stock. The destruction process began on January 15, 2001 in the presence of civil society and other representatives. The entire Malaysian stockpile of 94,721 APL’s was destroyed, at a cost of $1,836,633.40 USD. Malaysia has decided to retain zero APLs.
Col. Memmo informed the Committee that before the stockpile destruction process began, the Italian Army had 6,482,852 APLs in stock, one of the largest stockpiles in Europe. Since becoming a State Party, Italy has steadily been destroying this stockpile. Most of Italy’s APLs are being destroyed by industrial de-mounting (the APLs are defused, taken apart and either destroyed or sold for their individual parts to offset the cost of destruction – instructional video shown during the meeting). Some types of mines, such as the Valmara 69 APL, cannot be dismantled and therefore will be destroyed in a different manner. Col. Memmo stated that Italy will destroy its stockpiles of APLs 1 year before the deadline. Italy is therefore an example of what is achievable if the political will exists. Finally, Col. Memmo informed the Committee that Italy is ready to consider projects of stockpile destruction in other countries, using the national experience.
The representative of Yemen stated that 20% of Yemen’s stockpiles of APLs have been destroyed, and expressed the hope that donor countries will help with further work in this regard. Yemen would like to destroy all its stockpiled APLs by the end of 2001, but lacks the necessary explosives with which to complete the job.
Slovenia originally had 171,000 stockpiled APLs. The speaker stressed that these mines were not due to Slovenia’s national needs, but were left behind by the retreating Yugoslav Peoples’ Army in 1991. Stockpile destruction plans, which were in place before April 1999, got under way in May 1999. Slovenia has now set up a new mine destruction facility, which is environmentally sound. Slovenia has hitherto destroyed 38,000 stockpiled APLs, leaving 134,000 still to destroy.
The representative of Belarus stressed that his country is committed to signing the Convention, and has not done so yet due to the PFM APL problem his country is faced with. He reiterated that due to the toxic chemical explosive, PFM mines cannot be destroyed through open burning. Belarus will be able to overcome the PFM mine problem only with international aid. Belarus welcomes the work done on the PFM mine problem, and urges the international community to move foreword with its investigations, as the PFM mine has a limited shelf life (which has for many of them already expired). The Ministry of Defense has already started destroying (through the open burning technique) other types of APLs (7,000 in all).
The representative of Peru intervened to clarify the situation in his country. Peru has, since signing the Convention, destroyed 15,700 mines, but subsequent to this, has been unable to continue its program which would have reduced its stockpiles by a further 3000 APLs. Under the Managua Challenge, he thought Peru could possibly complete its stockpile destruction program by September 2001, including half the stocks it had originally intended to retain under Article 3 of the Convention (which will be 4,978 APLs only). Peru would be commencing this program in a few weeks, with the initial disposal of a further 32,000 APLs. But the continuation of the program would depend on the availability of resources through the Managua Challenge fund.
The representative of Japan informed the committee that Japan started its stockpile destruction program three years ago, and had to date destroyed more than 220,000 mines. Japan’s stockpile destruction program would continue until the end of February 2003.
Restrictions on transfers for destruction purposes
The Moderator was asked by the representative of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) whether there were any transfer restrictions for APLs under the Convention. The Moderator replied that the Convention explicitly allows for transfers of APLs (from one country to another) only for destruction and/or training purposes.
The Moderator was asked by the representative of Peru whether Claymore mines were considered to be APLs, and therefore banned under the Convention. The Moderator’s view was that the use of Claymore mines with tripwires was prohibited by the Convention as a result of the definitions. Use in command-detonated mode, however, would not be prohibited under the Convention. A corollary of this was that there would be no obligation to destroy Claymore mines, only an obligation to destroy the tripwires that would be used with them. In his ICBL capacity, the Moderator urged States Parties to ensure that Claymore mines could only be used or designed to be used in command-detonation mode, and report on progress made in this regard in the context of the Article 7 reports.
The representative of Kenya asked whether the obligations in Article 4 extended to foreign stockpiles of mines belonging to non-States Parties but stored on the territory of States Parties. The Moderator offered the opinion that since Article 4 required States Parties to destroy all stockpiled APLs "under its jurisdiction or control" (Article 4), they should do exactly that. Only if the foreign stockpiles were not under the States Party’s jurisdiction or control, did those stockpiles not have to be destroyed.
Stockpile destruction database website
The representative from the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) updated the Standing Committee on the development of the APL stockpile destruction database website (http://www.stockpiles.org) (see the report of the December 2000 Standing Committee Meeting). He advised the committee that the website was still under construction, but encouraged countries to contribute to the consolidation of the website by submitting relevant information on the main submenu items (i.e., technologies, policies, industry information, stockpiles and case studies). He noted that one new aspect of the website was the "events" section, which would include information on relevant meetings and events.
Responses to Regional Stockpile Destruction Challenges The Managua Challenge
he Managua Challenge has generated much interest on the part of OAS member States. Its aim is to assist member States to develop and execute national stockpile destruction plans, to identify technical resources and funding necessary for stockpile destruction, to facilitate international certification, and assist with any other requirements within the capabilities and mandate of the OAS.
The speaker reiterated that the Managua Challenge was established as a way to a) urge the signatories of the Ottawa Convention in the Americas (Chile, Guyana, Haiti, St. Vincent, Suriname and Uruguay) to join the 27 States Parties in ratifying the Convention, thereby maintaining the political momentum in the region; b) have Article 7 reports completed, which will promote greater transparency; and c) to complete the destruction of all stockpiles in American States by the Third Meeting of States Parties in Managua in September 2001.
To complete this goal political commitment is needed, not only from the States in the region, including through the help of the OAS, but also from non-governmental and other actors such as the GICHD and other NGOs. The OAS has agreed to be the focal point, while the GICHD has agreed to prepare a template for National Destruction Plans and will explore other tools.
The speaker separated the States Parties into three categories: those with large stockpiles of APLs (for example, Peru, Ecuador and Nicaragua); those with medium stockpiles of APLs (for example, Argentina, Brazil and Chile); and those with small stockpiles of APLs (for example, Honduras and Uruguay). The total number of stockpiled APLs in the countries included in the Managua Challenge is 765,336. The speaker noted that Columbia has been very active in this regard, and has stated its intention to destroy all its stockpiles of APLs by September 2001. Ecuador has signed a Framework Agreement for Support and a joint OAS/Canada stockpile assistance visit is scheduled for May 2001. Honduras completed the destruction of its stockpiles in November 2000. Nicaragua has destroyed 55,000 APLs thus far, and the process is continuing.
The PFM mine seminar
A seminar exclusively on the PFM mine problem indigenous to former Soviet States was held in Budapest, Hungary, on February 1-2, 2001. The representative of Hungary (Laszlo Deak) stated that the seminar aimed to stimulate technical dialogue on the matter amongst affected countries, technical experts and donors. Due to the PFM mine’s unique construction (i.e. its toxic liquid explosive) there is no consensus on how to safely destroy this type of APL. One of the major problems highlighted during this seminar was the lack of information on the chemical components of the PFM mine.
Ambassador Dan Livermore of Canada stressed the need to move from the technical meeting to a possible way forward. He also reiterated that the conclusions of the seminar highlighted the need for more information on the chemical components of the PFM mine, and therefore the need for a technical study of the PFM mine to gain reliable technical data for working out the best technical solution. He also mentioned that funding this project will be an important issue, and that donor support would need to be channeled through an appropriate mechanism (possibly through NATO).
Adrian Wilkinson of the GICHD gave a technical briefing of the seminar, which is reproduced in A Global Ban on Landmines – Seminar on the Destruction of the PFM1 Mine (distributed at the meeting and also available through the GICHD).
Mr. V.V. Korenkov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Scientific Production Association "ECODEM", also made a presentation on possible ways to deal with the PFM mine problem, in particular the disarming of the PFM mine by cementation. Mr. Korenkov noted that his organisation was ready to receive experts for more detailed study of the proposed technology.
The Bamako Meeting
Lt.Col. Jefta Munongwa of Mali gave a briefing of the Bamako Meeting, held in Bamako on February 15-16, 2001. Although the objective of this meeting was to help facilitate universalization, ratification and full implementation of the Convention in Africa, a stockpile destruction workshop was held in the framework of the meeting. As the stockpile destruction workshop affirmed that little is known of the scale of the problem in many African countries (see Landmine Monitor Fact Sheet), it concluded that there is a need to develop a database on the scope of the APL problem in ALL
African countries (which includes the number of stockpiled APLs).
It was noted that the lack of financial aid is the primary reason for delays in implementing stockpile destruction programs. It was therefore suggested that a fund be set up for deserving cases. Canada has already pledged to contribute to such a fund, while Canada and the GICHD have pledged to assist in planning stockpile destruction programs with technical/expert advice. It was also suggested that the UNDP examine the possibility of managing voluntary contributions in this regard, as well as that interested countries follow up on France’s offer to send military personnel to assist with stockpile destruction programs.
National Responses to the PresentationsPeru
The representative of Peru noted with concern that the political will expressed by a plethora of OAS member States through the Managua Challenge has not been followed-up with appropriate donor action. He stressed that the OAS region as a whole receives only 3% of the total donor support for stockpile destruction and that a global aid system is undermined by geopolitical considerations. This could have negative connotations and consequences in a region which is most likely to fulfill the 4 year deadline under Article IV of the Convention.
The representatives of Honduras, Nicaragua, Chile and Ecuador supported this statement. The representative of Chile (a signatory State) mentioned that many States accede to the Convention on the premise that they will be given support in fulfilling the obligations under the Convention. The representative of Ecuador wished to thank the OAS for its general support and mentioned that Ecuador had recently signed an agreement with the OAS to continue the stockpile destruction process.
The representative of Canada noted how the Managua Challenge was an excellent example of the way to turn from legal obligations to the actual tasks of stockpile destruction. He noted that in this regard three things were required: 1) political will – this has been adequately reflected in the Americas through mine awareness programs in all mine affected countries of the region and the various seminars help on the topic of stockpile destruction; 2) support from an international organization – the Americas have this in the OAS; and 3) resources – in the case of stockpile destruction, national financial resources in as well as donations for the Americas has not been extensive. At this point a real effort is required to maintain the momentum, at least until the Managua Challenge has been fulfilled.
With regard to the Bamako Meeting, the representative of UNDP wished to clarify that the UNDP was not setting up a special office on stockpile destruction, nor was it setting up a specific trust fund for stockpile destruction purposes. The UN has existing mechanisms for these purposes, most of which go through UNMAS. As the UNDP is present in most countries, it can facilitate technical assistance and regular country level assistance.
Lessons learnt in stockpile destruction operations: the case of albania
Mr. William Hunt, the Project Supervisor of the Albania stockpile anti-personnel mine destruction project gave a briefing on the nature of the project and lessons learnt from its implementation. After explaining that the program involved a range of different agencies (the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA), the Albanian Armed Forces, the Albanian MOD, suppliers of specialist demilitarization equipment and a destruction agency), Mr. Hunt focused on the particulars of the Albanian situation. For example, Albania has a large amount of APLs (1.6 million), many of which are located in storage centers difficult to access. Albania has lived with political instability and isolation for fifty years, and has a limited logistical capacity within its own Armed Forces. Moreover, Albania had no previous experience with ammunition demilitarization other than by open detonation.
While the project is in its early stages, Mr. Hunt was of the view that NAMSA has already learnt some useful lessons. These relate to five main areas: planning, logistics, verification, indigenous capacity and emerging issues. The key message with regard to planning was to ensure sufficient time for bureaucratic hurdles, and the administration of all the financial and contractual requirements. Logistics was considered to be an extremely important element of the destruction process and the key message was the need to build adequate capacity among the transporting agency, taking into account local constraints. On verification, considered to be an essential transparency element, Mr. Hunt noted that adequate storage and accounting standards would be a key element, as well as the need for independent examination of that storage capacity. Related to this was the desirability of an uncomplicated verification system. The main message on the issue of indigenous capacity was the need to consider local solutions where possible, and build on and take advantage of local skills, personnel etc. Finally, Mr. Hunt made the point that predicting national variables (e.g. elections, inflation) can avoid those factors complicating the program.
New InitiativesStockpile destruction in moldova
The representative of The Netherlands (Mr. Verbeek) advised the committee that NAMSA was developing a plan for the destruction of APLs in Moldova. The program would involve the provision of assistance and training to the army, so that it might carry out the destruction of the APLs remaining in Moldova (approximately 12,000). By way of background, Mr. Verbeek explained that the idea of a specific trust fund for this program arose from a fact-finding mission which was originally intended to look at small arms and light weapons. Instead, it began to focus on APLs, and will now focus on, inter alia, training for combat engineers and the upgrading of destruction sites. NAMSA will develop a draft plan, and The Netherlands will take the lead in establishing the trust fund. The organizers are hoping to start the program in the northern summer 2001.
Stockpile destruction in ukraine
The representative of Ukraine (Mr. Osnach) provided some information on recent developments in Ukraine in relation to its stockpile destruction process. In March 2001 the Foreign Minister of Ukraine and Canada signed a Framework Arrangement on the destruction of APLs in Ukraine. The Framework Arrangement provides for implementation of projects to destroy APLs stockpiled in Ukraine and is considered to be an important precondition for Ukraine to fulfill its obligations in this area. The first stage of the implementation of this Arrangement is supposed to include the destruction of 400,000 PMN mines, and the second stage will be the destruction of nearly 6 million PFM mines. There is a need to further evaluate the existing destruction and disposal methodologies for this latter type of mine.
Canada will be providing financial and other assistance, and will promote the provision of such assistance on the part of other donors. The parties will establish a Coordinating Committee to guide and direct the destruction of the APLs, and will delegate work to Project Managers who will be on the Coordinating Committee, and will be selected by the international group of donor countries and Ukraine. The Project Managers will manage the destruction projects, including the selection of contractors, negotiation of all contracts, and the monitoring and verification of work.
The delegation of Switzerland reminded all delegations about the Stockpile Management Training Course being held in Fribourg, Switzerland, in June 2001, and welcomed participation by all. The delegation of Malaysia advised the committee that Malaysia would host a regional Asia-Pacific stockpile destruction meeting in Kuala Lumpur on 8-9 August 2001.
Concluding Remarks and Recommendations
The Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction registered encouraging progress in many regions on the issue of stockpile destruction, although it also became apparent that there was a lack of information on the very existence, or number and type of stockpiled APLs in some regions throughout the world, especially in Africa and in Asia. The Standing Committee stressed that progress in this most visible field of "preventive mine action" needs to continue, including in regard to the implementation of the Managua Challenge as well as through other regional initiatives, such as identified in the Bamako meeting.
The Standing Committee discussions highlighted the need to identify sufficient resources to assist states with stockpile destruction operations, along with the appropriate mechanisms to effectively deliver this assistance. Coordination must be carried out among donors to identify priorities for stockpile destruction funding. In this regard, the Standing Committee noted a disparity in aid delivered to some geographical regions.
The Standing Committee also stressed the need for the process of stockpile destruction to be concluded in an environmentally sound manner, especially with regard to certain types of APLs whose detonation can have toxic side-affects, such as with the PFM1 type of APL. Further attention to environmental policies as well as risk assessments in implementing stockpile destruction programs would be welcome.
The Standing Committee welcomed the establishment by the UN Mine Action Service and Canada of the APL stockpile destruction database website (http://www.stockpiles.org), and for purposes of increased transparency encourages all interested parties to contribute to the website, including by providing information on issues such as new technologies for stockpile destruction, industrial information, national policies as well as case studies.