AG/RES. 2003 (XXXIV-O/04): The Americas As An Antipersonnel-Land-Mine-Free Zone
(Adopted at the fourth plenary session held on June 8, 2004)
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,
The Annual Report of the Permanent Council to the General Assembly (AG/doc.4265/04 add. 5 corr. 1), in particular the section on the matters entrusted to the Committee on Hemispheric Security; and
The report of the General Secretariat (CP/doc._______) on the implementation of resolutions AG/RES. 1934 (XXXIII-O/03), "Support for the Program of Integral Action against Antipersonnel Mines in Central America," and AG/RES. 1935 (XXXIII-O/03), "Support for Action against Mines in Peru and Ecuador";
RECALLING its resolutions AG/RES. 1411 (XXVI-O/96), AG/RES. 1496 (XXVII-O/97), AG/RES. 1569 (XXVIII-O/98), AG/RES. 1644 (XXIX-O/99), AG/RES. 1794 (XXXI-O/01), AG/RES. 1889 (XXXII-O/02) and AG/RES. 1936 (XXXIII-O/03), "The Americas as an Antipersonnel-Land-Mine-Free Zone," and AG/RES. 1744 (XXX-O/00), "Cooperation for Security in the Hemisphere," in which it reaffirmed the goals of the global elimination of antipersonnel land mines and the conversion of the Americas into an antipersonnel-land-mine-free zone;
RECALLING ALSO the Declaration on Security in the Americas, adopted at the Special Conference on Security, in Mexico City, Mexico, on October 28, 2003, which states: "We reaffirm our support for establishing the Hemisphere as an anti-personnel-landmine-free zone. We welcome the cooperative approach and efforts of all states as well as those of the Organization of American States Mine Action Team to support humanitarian de-mining, mine risk education, landmine victim assistance and rehabilitation, and socio-economic recovery. We highlight the importance of the Ottawa Convention and its universalization and support States Parties to this Convention in their efforts to implement it to rid their territories of anti-personnel landmines";
REITERATING its profound concern over the presence in the Americas of thousands of antipersonnel land mines and other undetonated explosive devices;
BEARING IN MIND the serious threat that mines and other unexploded ordinance pose to the safety, health and lives of local civilian populations, as well as of personnel participating in humanitarian, peacekeeping and rehabilitation programs and operations;
RECOGNIZING WITH GREAT SATISFACTION:
The complete elimination of antipersonnel landmine stockpiles in Argentina, Chile, Suriname and Venezuela since the last session of the General Assembly; and
The status of Central America as an antipersonnel mine stockpile-free region;
RECOGNIZING WITH SATISFACTION:
The efforts being made by all governments to implement comprehensive mine-action programs, including activities aimed at mine risk education, stockpile destruction, mine clearance, the physical and psychological rehabilitation of victims and the socioeconomic reclamation of demined areas in their countries;
The progress made by the Government of Honduras in concluding the final phase of its National Mine Action Plan in 2004, as well as the important efforts by the Governments of Guatemala and Nicaragua in promptly completing their mine clearance programs, in order to join El Salvador and Costa Rica as formerly mine-affected states that have completed their mine action programs, and thereby to transform Central America into the first mine-free subregion in the world;
The close collaboration between the Governments of Peru and Ecuador in mine clearance activities in their border areas, and, in particular, the completion of the humanitarian demining program in the Tumbes - El Oro border region, in March 2004;
The incorporation of Colombia into the Comprehensive Mine Action Program (AICMA) of the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy, the establishment of an AICMA program coordination office in Colombia in November 2003, and the goal of the Government of Colombia to complete destruction of its stockpiles by the end of 2004;
The ratification by Guyana of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and On Their Destruction (Ottawa Convention), thereby becoming the 32nd sovereign state of the region for which the Convention is in force;
That the Amended Mines Protocol to the 1980 United Nations Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects is in force for 14 sovereign states of the region;
The important coordination work of the General Secretariat, through the Comprehensive Mine Action Program of the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy, together with the technical assistance of the Inter-American Defense Board; and
The valuable contribution by member states and permanent observers to, and the support of the Committee on Hemispheric Security for, the goal of making the Americas an antipersonnel-land-mine-free zone; and
TAKING NOTE OF:
The upcoming Nairobi Summit for a Mine Free World, to be held from November 29 to December 3, 2004; and
The contributions made by participants from governmental and non-governmental sectors of the member states as well as from regional and international organizations in the Regional Mine Action Seminar held in August 2003 in Lima, Peru, as well as the plans for the next Regional Seminar which will take place in Quito, Ecuador in August 2004,
1. To reaffirm the goals of the global elimination of antipersonnel land mines and the conversion of the Americas into an antipersonnel-land-mine-free zone.
2. To urge member states to continue considering mine action as a national and regional priority and to foster the necessary political momentum and contribution of resources to maintain the leadership that the Americas have acquired globally to further this fundamental humanitarian task.
3. To urge member states which have not yet done so to ratify or consider acceding to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and On Their Destruction (Ottawa Convention) as soon as possible to ensure its full and effective implementation.
4. To reiterate the recommendation to the Permanent Council to continue considering action against antipersonnel mines in Ecuador and Peru, with a view to progressing toward the objective of making the Americas an antipersonnel-land-mine-free zone.
5. To encourage all member states to participate at the highest level at the Nairobi Summit for a Mine-Free World.
6. To request the Secretary General to represent the Organization at the said Nairobi Summit.
7. To once again urge member states which have not yet done so to become parties to the 1980 United Nations Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects and the five protocols thereto, as soon as possible; and to request member states to inform the Secretary General when they have done so.
8. To encourage member states to develop statements of remaining goals and to collaborate with the OAS Mine Action Team, through its mine clearance, stockpile destruction, mine risk education, and victim assistance programs, in order to advance mine action in the region.
9. To urge Member States and Permanent Observers to contribute to the financing of the next regional meetings to follow-up on mine action in the Americas, similar to those held in Peru in 2003 and the upcoming one in Ecuador in June 2004.
10. To further encourage member states and permanent observers to support the OAS Mine Action program and to provide resources to mine action programs in the region in order to achieve the goal of the Americas as a mine-free zone.
11. To request the Secretary General to consider the possibility of developing new mine action programs in the Americas to assist affected member states, upon request, in fulfilling their commitment to convert the Americas into an antipersonnel-land-mine-free zone.
12. To firmly condemn, in accordance with the principles and norms of international humanitarian law, the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines by non-state actors, acts which put at grave risk the population of the affected countries, and to reaffirm that progress toward a mine-free world will be facilitated if non-state actors observe the international norm established by the Ottawa Convention.
13. To reiterate the importance of participation by all member states in the OAS Register of Antipersonnel Land Mines by April 15 of each year, in keeping with resolution AG/RES. 1496 (XXVII-O/97), and to commend member states which have regularly submitted their reports to that end.
14. To encourage member states that are parties to the Ottawa Convention to provide to the Secretary General as part of their submissions to the OAS Register of Antipersonnel Land Mines, in keeping with resolution AG/RES. 1496 (XXVII-O/97), a copy of their Ottawa Convention Article 7 transparency reports; and to further encourage member states which are not yet parties to the Ottawa Convention to provide similar information with their annual submissions.
15. To instruct the Permanent Council to report to the General Assembly at its thirty-fifth regular session on the implementation of this resolution.
STATEMENT BY THE DELEGATION OF THE UNITED STATES
The United States is committed to and shares common cause with all nations that wish to end the harmful effects generated by the use of persistent landmines. The United States recognizes and supports the positive contributions made to humanitarian mine action by the Organization of American States (OAS).
The United States recently announced a new landmine policy that breaks with formulations of the past and that will help reduce humanitarian risk and save the lives of civilians and U.S. military personnel. The key elements of this policy are: a) a firm and fixed commitment to use no persistent (i.e., non-self-destructing or non-self-deactivating) landmine of any type after 2010; b) a firm commitment to use no non-detectable mine of any type by the end of this year; c) a 50% increase in U.S. Department of State humanitarian mine action funding to $70 million per year, and d) the development of future landmines that incorporate enhanced self-destructing/self-deactivating and control mechanisms. The new policy also includes provisions to encourage international agreements to restrict the transfer of all persistent mines. The United States has not acceded to the "Ottawa Convention" and does not intend to do so.
The call to create a "landmine-free" zone commits Member States and the OAS to an unnecessary action regardless of whether or not that mine generates any adverse impacts or poses a threat to civilians. Such an approach ignores the emerging global practice on the part of mine action practitioners to plan and manage mine action programs to achieve a "mine-impact free" or "mine safe" status. The "landmine free" approach also runs counter to funding trends on the part of most donor nations. The resources that would be diverted to find every last landmine are needed to address more practical and pressing problems. Moreover, the call to create a "landmine-free zone" does not accurately reflect past OAS demining accomplishments or the likely results of OAS activities. Even after the OAS successfully concludes its demining efforts some landmines still linger in these States. The OAS is aware of this fact, as it certifies a state as "mine-impact-free" when those landmines that pose an immediate humanitarian threat rather than a remote risk have been cleared.
We are also discouraged that the importance of the civilian protections provided by the Amended Mines Protocol of the Convention on Conventional Weapons was not recognized in operative paragraph 12.
For the reasons provided above, the United States cannot in good faith join in the consensus on an OAS resolution that promotes an "anti-personnel landmine free hemisphere." The position of the United States on this resolution in no way dilutes our commitment to humanitarian mine action or to cooperating with all nations in the hemisphere to take practical steps to end the harmful legacy of landmines. Policy differences should not stand in the way of meaningful collaboration.