Co-Chairs : Belgium and Zimbabwe
Co-Rapporteurs : Norway and Thailand
With reference to the relevant decisions of the Second Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Convention, the SC on General Status and Operations of the Convention held its First Inter-Sessional Meeting on December 8, 2000 at the Convention Hall of the ILO in Geneva.
The Committee was informed about the results from the other Standing Committees. State Parties felt in general that the new format of the First Inter-Sessional Meeting, had been successful, although one should consider time allocated to the different SCs.
The Committee noted that the attendance to the Inter-sessional Meeting has been above expected with more than 330 participants. The restructured format of the meeting has furthermore demonstrated and consolidated the partnership between governments and the NGOs. Although progress has been made, there is still room for improvements.
Although there has been no evidence of violation of the Convention by any of the State parties, the Committee noted with concern that six countries, including one signatory state, are still actively using APL mines. Concern was also expressed to the fact that some States Parties to the Convention are engaged in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a conflict where APL-mines are used.
The Committee further noted that there is no evidence of either production or transfer of APL mines from the States Parties. The number of countries producing mines worldwide (including non-States Parties) has decreased from 55 to 16.
The Committee was equally pleased to register a positive trend with respect to destruction of stockpiles of APL mines. 25 States Parties have completed the destruction process and another 24 Sates Parties are well under way. But the Committee noted that 17 States Parties have not yet commenced the destruction process.
The Committee was also reminded that there have been new mine victims in more than 70 countries since the Convention was adopted and 88 countries are considered to be mine-affected. Although tangible results have been achieved, there is still a long way to go.
Universalization of the Convention
The Committee noted with satisfaction that since the Second Meeting of the States Parties, there have been two new ratifications of the Convention, Tanzania and Romania. It is anticipated that more countries will soon complete their ratification process. Several states are on the verge of ratifying the Convention. 139 countries have ratified, signed or acceded to the Convention.
The Committee reiterated its ambition to reach 130 ratifications before the Third Meeting of the States Parties and 170 ratifications by 2004. Appreciation was expressed for the efforts carried out by State Parties and ICBL to further universalize the Convention, such as the work done by the Universalization Contact Group and various regional initiatives.
It was underlined that universalization must not be regarded as an end in itself, and that the implementation of and compliance with the Convention were equally important. In this respect assistance to mine-affected countries is important and can make acceding to the Convention attractive.
Status of reporting under Article 7 and Developing of the Guide to complete Article 7 Reports
The Committee noted that 57 States Parties had submitted their annual reports in a timely manner while 38 State parties are late. 14 States have undertaken to report in the near future, within the stipulated 180 days, after the entry into force of the Convention for them. 21 State Parties have submitted annual update of their initial report to the UNSG.
UNDDA informed that there have been no new reports submitted to the UNSG since October. The "Form J" will be included in the database. Of the 57 reports submitted, 42 are in English, 8 in Spanish, 5 in French and 1 in Arabic. 37 reports were submitted by electronic mail. Austria, Canada, France, the Netherlands, South Africa, Sweden and Nicaragua expressed their willingness to continue to cooperate with Belgium on this matter.
One State Party informed about its progress in meeting the Article 7 obligations, and the difficulties it has experienced in this respect. The representative from Vertic gave an update on the efforts to develop a Handbook of Guidelines on Article 7 Reporting. Vertic has been working closely with some States Parties and the ICBL in this respect. In the following discussion support was expressed for such a Handbook. The aim is to reach a positive decision to this end at the Third Meeting of State Parties.
The Committee noted the concern expressed by the ICBL that foreign APL mines were stockpiled on the territory of five States Parties. These five States Parties were asked to include information on these stockpiles in their Article 7 reporting. ICBL also noted that some States Parties were holding stockpiles of anti-vehicle mines with sensitive fuses or with sensitive anti-handling devices, which de facto can be regarded as APL mines. Concerned states were thus asked to include this information in their Article 7 reports. ICBL urged expanded Article 7 reporting on claymore mines and APL mines held for training purposes.
Status of domestic legislation under Article 9 and development of a sample package of existing implementation legislation
The Committee underlined the importance of national implementation measures, and so far 27 State Parties have submitted reports under Article 9. Two countries, Zimbabwe and Romania, provided the Committee with updates on their national implementation measures.
ICRC updated the Committee on its work, in collaboration with ICBL, to develop a special information kit. This kit will consist of two parts; general information on implementation measures, including definitions, standards etc., and samples of existing national legislations.
The facilitation and clarification of compliance. Article 8
As focal point for the expert work carried out with regard to matters pertaining to the operationalization of Article 8, Canada reported on a Workshop held in New York on 3 of November 2000.
The Workshop addressed a number of suggestions, which will be further explored. The intention is to follow-up questions regarding Article 8 at the next SC meeting in May 2001, with the view to present recommendations to the Third Meeting of the State Parties.
Regarding the question of clarification (Article 8.1), the importance of steps available before invoking Article 8, both of a formal and informal nature, was emphasized. The spirit of cooperation was underlined. It was further noted that questions regarding the mandate, funding and the composition of fact-finding missions for Article 8 purposes needed special attention.
Several State Parties expressed appreciation of the work done by Canada, and countries expressed readiness to contribute in this process. Although it is to be hoped that measures under Article 8 would not to be required, procedures have to be put in place and be available if needed, in order to enhance the credibility of the Convention. The Committee reaffirmed that issues pertaining to Article 8 are the responsibility of the State Parties. ICBL urged States Parties to respond regularly and vigorously to use of APL mines by non-Sate Parties and all other actors.
The Committe took note of the information from the Co-Chair, that a political dialogue has started through diplomatic channels with Burundi following the declaration of the delegation of Burundi at the SMSP. The Chair promised to inform the May meeting of this Standing Committee further.
Review of work undertaken with respect to article 2
The Committee noted with appreciation the invitation from ICRC to a Technical Expert meeting on anti-vehicle mines with sensitive fuses or with sensitive anti-handling devices. Participants will be State Parties participating in the SC, ICRC, ICBL and GICHD. The meeting will be held in or near Geneva 13-14 March 2001. ICRC took note of the interest expressed by some State Parties to have translation in other languages than English.
It was emphasized that this meeting will not aim to adopt any recommendations or address legal questions, but only explore technical issues related to Article 2. State Parties are encouraged to conduct national reviews on the issues to be discussed and to prepare informal non-papers by 20 February 2001. ICRC asked to be notified of participation by 15 February 2001.
ICBL expressed the need to develop a mechanism to address concerns regarding clarifications and common understandings with respect to Articles 1 and 2, particularly the term "assist".
A presentation was given by Norway on adjusting of claymore mines in accordance with the Convention.
Preparations for the Third Meeting of State Parties
The Committee reiterated States Parties appreciation of the offer by Nicaragua to host the Third Meeting of State Parties. The representative from Nicaragua gave an overview with respect to the preparations for the meeting. The Committee was informed that the Foreign Minister of Nicaragua was to be the president of 3MSP. In accordance with the practice established by the 2MSP, the current Co-Chairs of the Standing Committees will be vice-presidents.
UNDDA presented the budget estimate of USD 977,100 for the Third Meeting of State Parties. The Committee gave the authority to the UNDDA to proceed on this basis to procure funds. But also underlined that the cost estimates had to be discussed further, in particular budget items related to "temporary assistance". The UN Secretary General, as Depositary, was asked by the Committee to take the following steps:
- to proceed with sending letters, by the end of January 2001, to invite all States to attend the 3MSP,
- to subsequently proceed with sending letters to States Parties indicating their assessed rate of contribution for the 3MSP and,
- to provide a report to the May 2001 meeting of this SC on the status of preparations for the 3MSP, including a final budget and an update on estimated assessed costs received.
Belgium announced its readiness by already having made its expected assessed contribution available on account number 001-1-508.140 with AB routing number 021-000021 and swift number CHASUS333. The UNDDA informed that the State Parties will be presented the financial accounts of the 1MSP and 2MSP, and be repaid if there is a surplus.
The Committee agreed on the draft provisional agenda and program of the 3MSP. The Committee recommended that the same practice as in the 2MSP apply to documentation and translation.
The Committee concurred with the Norwegian proposed changes for the draft Rules of Procedures for the 3MSP.
The Chair reminded that the SCE of January 2000 agreed that States Parties established a system that would see meetings of States Parties alternatively in Geneva and in mine affected countries.
Review of work undertaken with respect to Article 3
The Committee noted that 22 State Parties did not retain APLs for training purposes, 33 State Parties did retain APL under Article 3. The Committee noted furthermore that some State Parties had reassessed downwards their need for APL for training and technology development.
While some argued for a complete destruction of existing stockpiles, other stated their need for retaining some APL for training and scientific purposes. One State Party said that, in the light of many challenges and obligations facing developing states parties, such as insuring no use of APLs or assisting mine victims, priority should be given to these concerns first and the issue of retaining zero landmine for training and developing should be considered later. Representatives of the States Parties and the GICHD warned against retaining too large stockpiles of APL mines for training purposes. These needs may be in hundreds or thousands and not larger quantities, as was the understanding at the Oslo Diplomatic Conference when the Convention was negotiated.