Landmine Monitor 1999

Government of the Netherlands

This year the international community celebrates that one hundred years ago the First Peace Conference of the Hague took place. In the month opf May in The Hague, representatives of Governments and NGO's will again discuss the same theme as in the summer of 1899: Peace.

The Conference of 1899 negotiated the Convention for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes was. Two other results of the Conference are worth noting here. First, the mere meeting of 26 nations in conference and agreeing upon measures contributing to world peace set for the future. Second, the Conference also resulted in the The Hague Declaration concerning Expanding Bullets.

Central to the Convention was "the desire to decrease the evil of war as far as the military requirements allow". This assumption led to a general ban on weapons causing unnecessary harm and specifically the declaration concerning Expanding Bullets. The harm caused by expanding bullets is excessive and unnecessary to eliminate an opponent. In 1899 there was no need for an international campaign to ban these bullets.

Hundred years later, we needed an international campaign to ban another weapon that brings about enormous humanitarian suffering: the anti-personnel landmine. It causes unnecessary harm and works indiscriminately, killing combatants and many civilians. In contrast to other weapons, landmines do not keep silent when a conflict is over but continue to wreak havoc and cause medical, economic, environmental and development problems. The ICBL played a major role in the making of the Ottawa Treaty and was rightly awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. Now that the Treaty has entered into force, the fight is not over. Millions of landmines still prevent people from living the life they deserve and clearing these mines is a major task.

The annually Landmine Monitor report will be an effective instrument to keep the world aware of the continuing landmine-problem and force the international community to act.

Signed: Mr. Jozias van Aartsen, Minister for Foreign Affairs, The Netherlands