After Ottawa, what? Follow Australia

19 Dec, 1997    ·   47

Alexander Downer spells out what needs to be done to rope in those who have chosen to remain outside the treaty

Excerpts from the statement by Alexander Downer, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Ministerial Treaty Signing Conference for the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Landmines and on their Destruction.



3 December 1997, Ottawa, Canada



The challenge now will be to turn the powerful international norm established by the Ottawa Treaty into a universal one. A significant number of countries - including key landmine user and producer states - are currently outside the Ottawa Treaty and are likely to remain so for at least the medium term: some of them hold very deep-seated security-related concerns about abandoning landmines as a defensive weapon.



We must not end up with a permanent partial solution to the global landmines crisis.



Countries remaining outside the Ottawa Treaty must be engaged on the landmines ban issue at every available turn, including - obviously, but not only - through campaigning in favour of broader adherence to the Treaty.



In addition, the Conference on Disarmament remains the world’s primary global arms control negotiating forum. It should be tasked to contribute further - to international and human security in this area. Most importantly - the key countries outside the Ottawa Treaty are members of the Conference of Disarmament. Australia is redoubling its efforts in that forum so that negotiations on the landmines ban issue get underway in 1998. I urge you to support that effort.



The ongoing review process of Protocol II to Inhumane Weapons Convention is another important forum where non-Ottawa Treaty states can be brought further along the road to a total ban, and I appeal to all the countries here to accede to the Convention or, in the case of existing states parties, to ratify revised Protocol II so that it enters into force as soon as possible.



Since May 1996, Australia has pledged over $19 million for de-mining and victim rehabilitation programs in Cambodia , Laos , Angola , Mozambique and Afghanistan . This level of expenditure placed us at the leading edge of global efforts to rid the most heavily infested countries.



Already a new Australian mine detector has been developed using breakthrough "multi-period sensing" technology - an electro-magnetic pulse that can distinguish between minerals in the soil and metal objects. This greatly enhances the detection capacity for mines - including low-metal-content mines - in mineralised and saline soils. It has been deployed with great success in Cambodia and trialled in other areas. I commend this technology to the international community.



The Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation alone will spend $4 million over the next five years on further research into improved mine detection and neutralisation.