More than 90 countries met September 18-21 in Managua, Nicaragua, to review implementation of a treaty banning the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of anti-personnel landmines (APLs). Despite their success in destroying millions of APLs worldwide, the states-parties to the Ottawa Convention stated that they “remain deeply concerned” about continued APL use, and they vowed to make the weapons “objects of the past.”
Taking stock of accomplishments since the treaty entered into force on March 1, 1999, the states-parties noted in the meeting’s final declaration that 28 countries had completed destruction of their stockpiled APLs and that another 19 had programs underway. Under the treaty, states-parties are charged with destroying their APL stockpiles within four years and all APLs under their control, including those planted in the soil, within 10 years, although countries may request an extension.
Speakers at the meeting noted that, despite the progress in destroying APLs, governments and non-state actors in more than 20 ongoing conflicts were still using the weapons. Allegations of treaty violations by one state-party, Uganda, and some signatories, such as Angola, Burundi, and Sudan, were voiced, although no country made a formal request to seek clarification of the matter, according to the meeting’s president, Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Francisco Xavier Aguirre Sacasa. Uganda denied the allegation.
The states-parties urged all countries to join the convention. Major powers, such as the United States, Russia, and China, as well as most countries in the Near East and approximately half of all countries in the Asia-Pacific region have not signed the treaty. The number of treaty signatories and states-parties now stands at 141, of which 120 are states-parties.
The next annual states-parties meeting will take place September 16-20, 2002, in Geneva.