On March 26, the Conference on Disarmament (CD) appointed—for the second year running—a "special coordinator" for anti-personnel landmines (APLs). (See p. 21.)
The conference is expected to name the special coordinator when it renews its work on May 11. The work of the coordinator could include developing a mandate for establishing an ad hoc committee that would consider negotiations of an export/transfer ban on APLs, possibly by the end of the second conference session of 1998.
In a prepared statement for his March 26 address to the CD, U.S. Ambassador Robert Grey reiterated the administration's support for an export-transfer ban as well as for the creation of the ad hoc committee. He said the appointment of a special coordinator "would be a significant first step" toward progress on restrictions of APLs in the 1998 session, especially with regard to states that are the largest producers of landmines.
The special coordinator was also tasked with taking into account "developments outside the Conference," namely the Ottawa Convention, signed last December. The convention prohibits the production, stockpiling, transfer and use of APLs, and as of March 31 had 125 signatories and seven parties. The signatory status of CD members (35 of the 61 members have signed the Ottawa Treaty) and the degree to which the special coordinator incorporates the objectives of the treaty in CD deliberations will have a significant impact on whether an ad hoc committee is established.