Finland drafts proposal for new restrictions on anti-vehicle mines
Anti-vehicle mines are to be restricted more closely than before in an effort to cut down the number of civilian fatalities in war zones. The Finnish ambassador Markku Reimaa acted two years as co-ordinator of the expert conference that was preparing the new regulations in Geneva.
The expert conference did not reach unanimity on the recommendations, but EU member countries hope that a protocol could be prepared based on the work done so far for an appraisal conference of the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). The CCW applies to conventional weapons whose impact is random or that cause unnecessarily serious damage.
In addition to the EU member countries, the new restrictions are supported by some twenty countries, among them the United States, India, Israel, Japan, Australia and Canada, an active proponent of the Ottawa treaty banning infantry mines.
"Several countries still need time to think, as the new restrictions may have an effect on their defence doctrines and the protection of their border zones," Mr Reimaa told the Finnish News Agency STT in a telephone interview on Tuesday.
The proposal speaks of a 12-year transition period, sonething that could make it easier for the big mine countries such as Russia, China and Pakistan to accept the regulations planned.
"If the new regulations were accepted, it would be a step forward in developing humanitarian justice," Mr Reimaa added. The experts will carry on their work next year chaired by some non-aligned country.
The Red Cross has given its support to the Finnish proposal. The Red Cross finds it important that earlier regulations on the protection of civilians that were more general in nature are not weakened by exceptions possibly included in the new rules.
The recommendations would be the sixth extra protocol of the CCW.
Von: 29 November 2005, http://newsroom.finland.fi