SÍNTESIS DE LA REUNIÓN DEL 4 DE FEBRERO DE 1999
|CONSEJO PERMANENTE DE LA
ORGANIZACIÓN DE LOS ESTADOS
COMISIÓN DE SEGURIDAD HEMISFÉRICA
9 abril 1999
1. Apoyo al programa de desminado en Centroamérica [AG/RES. 1568
• Informes preparados por la Unidad
para la Promoción de la Democracia y la Junta Interamericana de
Defensa sobre el programa de desminado en América Central
El Coordinador Ejecutivo Interino
de la Unidad para la Promoción de la Democracia (UPD), de la
Secretaría General de la OEA, señor Rubén Perina, se dirigió a la
Comisión sobre el Programa de Desminado en América Central (PADCA) /.
Este programa se realiza en forma conjunta entre la UPD y la Junta
Interamericana de Defensa (JID), cuyo Presidente, el Mayor General
John Thompson, también se dirigió a la Comisión y se refirió a los
logros alcanzados con este programa durante los últimos meses; el
impacto del huracán Mitch sobre las tareas de desminado que se
realizan en Centroamérica y las proyecciones y preocupaciones que
existen sobre este tema /. Asimismo, estuvieron presentes algunos
oficiales de la JID que participan directamente en el programa, a
saber, el Brigadier General Carlos Morales, de Ecuador; el Coronel
Luis Sánchez, de Venezuela; y el Coronel Charles Case, de los Estados
El Coordinador del PADCA, William
McDonough, se dirigió a la Comisión sobre los aspectos de coordinación
del Programa, incluidas las cuestiones de financiamiento internacional,
actividades de recaudación de fondos y sobre los requisitos de
infraestructura y equipo. /.
2. El Hemisferio Occidental: Zona
Libre de Minas Terrestres Antipersonal [AG/RES. 1569 (XXVIII-O/98)]
• Presentación de la Delegación de
los Estados Unidos sobre la Conferencia de Donantes sobre Remoción de
El Embajador Donald K. Steinberg,
de la Delegación de los Estados Unidos se dirigió a la Comisión con
relación a la Conferencia de Donantes, celebrada en mayo de 1998. La
presentación del Embajador Steinberg se concentró en los resultados
logrados en la mencionada Conferencia y el apoyo de los Estados Unidos
en las actividades de desminado. El Embajador Steinberg distribuyó
durante la reunión una copia de su presentación al Seminario Regional
para la Promoción de la Convención de Ottawa, que se celebró en México
en 1999 /.
• Presentaciones de las
delegaciones de México y Canadá sobre la Convención de Ottawa y sobre
el Seminario Regional para la Promoción de la Convención de Ottawa.
El Representante Permanente de
México, Embajador Claude Heller, se dirigió a la Comisión sobre el
Seminario Regional para la Promoción de la Convención sobre la
Prohibición del Empleo, el Almacenamiento, la Producción y la
Transferencia de Minas Antipersonal y sobre su Destrucción (Convención
de Ottawa), coordinado por los gobiernos de México y Canadá, que se
celebró en México en enero de 1999. /
La Representante de Canadá, señora
Renata Wielgozs, se dirigió a la Comisión sobre los efectos de la
Convención de Ottawa, que entrará en vigor el 1 de marzo de 1999 /. En
su presentación, la señora Wielgozs señaló que hasta la fecha, 16
Estados miembros de la OEA han ratificado la mencionada Convención /.
Varias delegaciones informaron a la
Comisión que sus gobiernos estaban considerando ratificar la
Convención antes de la reunión programada para el mes de mayo, en
Maputo, así como la situación actual de las gestiones que realizan sus
respectivos países con respecto al desminado.
Palabras del Dr. Rubén M. Perina
Oficial a cargo de la Unidad para la Promoción de la Democracia (UPD)
Sr. Presidente, muchas gracias por
la oportunidad que nos brinda de informar a su Comisión sobre el PADCA,
Programa de Apoyo a Desminado en Centroamérica. Esta Comisión ha
jugado un rol decisivo, con sus orientaciones y apoyo, en el
desarrollo, fortalecimiento, y logros del PADCA.
Como es conocido, el PADCA comenzó
sus actividades en 1991 en Nicaragua pero por falta de recursos se
tuvo que suspender en 1993. Fue recién en mayo de 1995 que el Programa
fue asumido por la Unidad para la Promoción de la Democracia, bajo la
coordinación de quien les habla hasta hace un mes.
Creo, señor Presidente, que vale la
pena en esta oportunidad hacer una breve reseña de la naturaleza y de
los logros del Programa.
En primer lugar, el Programa se
caracteriza por ser esencialmente humanitario, porque de lo que se
trata es de eliminar las minas antipersonal del suelo centroamericano,
que son una amenaza a la seguridad, la tranquilidad y la vida de miles
de civiles en los países afectados, así como un impedimento al
desarrollo socio-económico de los mismos.
En segundo lugar, es un Programa
regional, porque se trabaja coordinadamente en beneficio y apoyo de
los 4 países afectados de la región. Todo se hace con una concepción
En tercer lugar, el Programa es
multilateral, porque incluye esfuerzos de varios protagonistas: países
donantes, países contribuyentes, países afectados, instituciones como
la UPD y la JID, esta Comisión y diferentes sectores nacionales.
a) Países contribuyentes son
aquellos que han provisto, sin cargo al Programa, supervisores,
asesores y equipos especializados. Países en esta categoría son:
Argentina, Brasil, Colombia, El Salvador, Estados Unidos, Guatemala y
b) Países donantes son aquellos que
han provisto los fondos, aproximadamente $10,000,000 hasta hoy, para
las operaciones de apoyo al desminado, y son: Alemania, Gran Bretaña,
Canadá, Dinamarca,España, Estados Unidos, Francia, Japón, Noruega y
c) Países afectados son: Costa
Rica, Guatemala, Honduras y Nicaragua, que también proveen equipos,
logística, conocimiento del terreno, y los propios zapadores que
realizan la tarea más difícil y peligrosa.
d) La JID, por su parte, coordina
la supervisión, la asesoría y la verificación técnica de los equipos,
el entrenamiento y la metodología de las operaciones.
e) La UPD, a su vez, efectúa la
coordinación general del programa, busca los fondos y los administra
de acuerdo a las normas de la OEA, y asegura la integridad del
programa, o sea que todos sus componentes se encuentren en lugar y
Esto me lleva a la cuarta y última
característica del programa:
El PADCA es un programa integral.
Es integral porque contempla e incluye todos los componentes que se
consideran indispensables para llevar a cabo actividades de Deminado.
Entre ellos: — Asesoramiento, supervisión y verificación técnica. —
Evacuación aérea y atención médica de emergencia. — Seguros,
estipendios y comida para zapadores, su equipamiento y entrenamiento.
— Campaña de Prevención e Información Pública. — Rehabilitación de
víctimas. — Equipos de perros detectores.
El Mayor General Thompson,
Presidente de la JID y el Sr. William McDonough, nuevo Coordinador del
PADCA, se referirán más adelante a los desafíos y necesidades futuras,
particularmente después del paso del Huracán Mitch, para completar
esta tarea humanitaria lo antes posible.
Finalmente, señor Presidente,
quisiera destacar con satisfacción algunos logros de PADCA:
En primer lugar, hoy día el PADCA
cuenta con Proyectos Nacionales de Desminado en los cuatro países
afectados. Estos proyectos luego de dificultades iniciales, están en
la actualidad bien instalados, organizados y coordinados, y funcionado
con unos 450 zapadores bien equipados, entrenados, operando
debidamente. El Programa también cuenta con un centro de coordinación
operativa y técnica en Danlí, Honduras, bajo la dirección de un
Supervisor internacional designado por la JID.
En segundo lugar, el PADCA cuenta
con el reconocimiento y la confianza de la comunidad internacional, o
sea de los países contribuyentes y donantes, que han provisto los
recursos necesarios para emprender esta tarea humanitaria.
En tercer lugar, con el PADCA se ha
creado una muy fluida y productiva relación de cooperación con el JID.
En cuarto lugar, El Programa (y
esta es una consecuencia inesperada) ha contribuido también al
acercamiento y la cooperación entre los ejércitos de las Américas, así
como a un acercamiento entre civiles y militares en los países
afectados, como se evidencia con las Comisiones Nacionales de
Desminado en Guatemala y Nicaragua.
Y por último, se debe destacar que,
hoy día, gracias al tratamiento y prioridad que se le ha dado al tema,
gracias al interés y apoyo demostrado por esta Comisión el Consejo
Permanente, la Asamblea General, y el propio Secretario General, el
tema de Desminado y de Acción contra las Minas, está ineludiblemente
instalado en las agendas nacionales de los países afectados y en la
Todo esto, Sr. Presidente, creo que
son logros considerables, que hacen del PADCA un modelo exitoso de
cooperación internacional en beneficio de los Estados Miembros.
Quiero agradecerle, nuevamente por
la oportunidad que nos ha brindado de informarles sobre los avances
del Programa. Muchas Gracias.
Documento circulado por la UPD
ASSISTANCE PROGRAM IN CENTRAL
AMERICA Unit for the Promotion of Democracy Organization of American
Mine-clearing in Central America
has become a humanitarian task of utmost importance for the region,
where thousands of antipersonnel landmines and other explosive devices
were indiscriminately sown during the last decade. These devices, most
of which were industrially manufactured (although some were homemade)
are a deadly trap for the rural population. They cause the loss of
human life, cattle, and domestic animals and are a constant threat to
the civilian population. They hamper the use of vast and fertile
croplands, restrict agricultural development in general, and delay the
growth of job opportunities.
Likewise, landmines hinder the
proper use and/or expansion of national infrastructure, such as
bridges, roads, electrical transmission towers, and hydroelectric
plants. For these reasons, the removal of antipersonnel mines is a
humanitarian cause as well as a matter of priority and extreme urgency
in the search for peace, public security, socioeconomic development,
and the consolidation of democracy in the region.
Given the urgency and the
importance of the removal of mines for the people of Central America
and, at the request of the affected Central American countries--Costa
Rica, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua---in 1991 the Organization of
American States (OAS) began to lend its support to the mine-clearing
efforts made by those countries. Since 1995, under the general
coordination and supervision of the Unit for the Promotion of
Democracy (UPD), the OAS has developed and made available to those
countries the Mine-Clearing Program in Central America (PADCA), with
the technical support of the Inter American Defense Board (IADB).
The program is a multinational
effort, with participation by donor and contributing countries,
including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, El Salvador,
France, Germany, Great Britain, Guatemala, Japan, the Netherlands,
Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the United States, and Venezuela.
The Unit for the Promotion of
Democracy coordinates fundraising within the international community
and is responsible for management and accounting of the funds
collected. This coordination, both at headquarters and in the affected
states, seeks to ensure that all essential components of each national
demining project are operating smoothly (evacuation and medical
emergency system, equipment, transportation, food, stipends, insurance
coverage for both supervisors and sappers, etc.). The UPD also
coordinates the public, preventive information campaign to warn the
population of the dangers of antipersonnel mines and to provide
information on measures to be taken to reduce the risk of accidents.
It should be underscored that the
main objective of the UPD, through PADCA, is to support the
governments of member states in their efforts to develop national
institutional and technical capacity to undertake demining activities.
The Inter-American Defense Board (IADB)
is responsible, for its part, for organizing the international team of
technical advisers, supervisors, and experts in mine-clearing that
carry out the on-site training, provision of technical advice, and
supervision of the demining operations. The IADB also participates in
the design, implementation, and logistic coordination of the national
demining plan in each country, which is executed in specific modules
lasting six months. Further the IADB certifies that the mine-clearing
operations were carried out with appropriate, reliable means and
materials for detection and destruction, reliable search and
verification methods, and appropriate safety procedures and standards.
The team of international experts
that the IADB has put together is located in Danlí, El Paraíso,
Honduras, the point from which consultants and supervisors are
dispatched to each of the national demining projects. This
international team is made up of national officers of Argentina,
Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Venezuela, and the United
States--all of them OAS member states--who also provide protective
gear and equipment for detecting and destroying mines, at no
additional cost to PADCA.
The affected countries make a
considerable contribution to each project by providing their sappers
to carry out the dangerous and difficult work of demining itself. The
respective governments and relevant national institutions also provide
material and financial resources according to their capacity, as well
as their experience and their knowledge of the region.
Since 1991, the Organization of
American States has, through General Assembly resolutions, given its
support to consideration of the question of antipersonnel landmines,
as reflected in “Support for Mine-Clearing in Central America,” and
the political initiative, “The Western Hemisphere as an
These resolutions acknowledge the
commitment by the OAS to promote and make an effective contribution to
regional security, complementing and reinforcing efforts to strengthen
and maintain international peace and security. By the same token, they
acknowledge the support extended by the international community, the
General Secretariat, and the Inter-American Defense Board to the
mine-clearing program in Central America, and call upon member states
and permanent observers, as well as donor countries, to continue
supporting the Central American countries both in their efforts to
clear their respective territories of antipersonnel land mines and in
their programs on preventive education for the civilian population on
the danger of mines, the physical and psychological rehabilitation of
victims, and the socioeconomic reclamation of demined areas. According
to these resolutions, the OAS has set the year 2000 as a target date
for completion of demining in Central America.
On the other hand, in keeping with
the aforementioned efforts by the Organization of American States to
transform the Western Hemisphere into an antipersonnel
landmine-free-zone and in recognition of the contribution made in this
regard by the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling,
Production, and Transfer of Antipersonnel Land Mines and on Their
Destruction, the heads of state and government, gathered for the
Second Summit of the Americas, in Santiago, Chile, encouraged action
and supported international humanitarian demining efforts, with the
goal of ensuring that priority attention would be given to devices
that threaten the civilian population and that land would be restored
for productive purposes. The latter would take place through effective
international and regional cooperation, as requested by the affected
states, to survey, mark, map, and destroy antipersonnel mines,
effective mine awareness campaigns and assistance to victims, and
development and deployment of mine detection and clearance
technologies, as appropriate.
II. Coordination and Management
Methodology: Operating Modules
The six-month-long operating
modules used for demining activities are an important tool for
planning, coordinating, and managing the resources needed for these
operations. They receive approval by national officials with regard to
the resources needed for project execution and, on that basis,
petitions for funds go out to the international community and help to
ensure clear and transparent resource management and accounting. These
modules also serve to associate the demining operations with
geographic objectives and to evaluate the successes and advances of
each six-month period. The cost of each module varies by country,
depending on the unit's size, the area involved, and the ability of
the country to contribute to the operations.
Each module is supported by a
continuation agreement between the beneficiary government and the UPD/OAS,
that includes an operating budget outlining the projected nature and
quantity of international funding needed to carry out the module. Each
module's budget includes necessary resources for personnel; equipment;
food; stipends; insurance; emergencies, prevention, rehabilitation and
public prevention campaigns; logistics; management; coordination; and
supervision. A detailed description of these items follows:
International supervisors and
instructors. The salary, per diem, and travel expenses of the
international demining team of the OAS/IADB international team are
provided by the sponsoring governments, which provide the experts.
Payment of these costs by the corresponding countries represents a
considerable financial contribution to PADCA. However, when the
officers are obliged to participate in supervisory or advisory
missions, locally or regionally, PADCA covers their per diem and
travel costs. PADCA also covers complementary medical and accident
insurance for members of the international team and local
Equipment and explosives. Equipment
includes the tools and materials to detect and locate mines and the
safety gear and protective clothing worn by the technicians.
Explosives include dynamite and all necessary accessories, such as
detonating cords and blasting caps.
Meals. The demining units receive
food rations over and above those provided by their respective
military installations or public security forces. These supplementary
rations are very important to the technicians given the arduous nature
of their work and the concomitant stress: six to eight hours a day of
work in tropical heat and 40 pounds of gear, in addition to the
anxiety of being in a minefield.
Stipends. The sappers receive an
additional daily salary bonus because of the high-risk task that they
perform. Every 15 days, these funds are paid into individual bank
accounts assigned to members of the demining team by a local
representative working in the coordination area of the OAS Program.
This procedure is meant to assure the international community that
this payment is not being made to anyone except those actually engaged
in demining activities.
Insurance. Both medical and
accident insurance are important components of the Program. PADCA's
coordination staff periodically reviews proposals and agreements for
medical insurance and treatment for sappers and for international
supervisors to verify that coverage is adequate. The Program also
makes certain that the existent international financing is sufficient
to adequately cover insurance policies and that these are in effect
during while the duration of every operating module.
Emergencies/Prevention/Rehabilitation and Public Information Campaign.
Spending for this item varies from country to country. However, in
every case, the Mine-Clearing Program has an information campaign to
make people aware or remind them of the dangers of minefields and
mined areas and to provide them with necessary preventive information
should they find a mine. In some cases, the Program has provided fuel,
lubricants, and spare parts to ensure that ambulances and medical
evacuation helicopters can operate in the event of a demining
accident. Orthopedic surgery sets have also been provided to reinforce
existing medical capabilities.
Logistic Components. To supplement
the capabilities of national demining units working in protracted
field operations, PADCA provides the resources necessary to ensure
mobility, communications, electrical power, and appropriate camping
facilities. The mobile communication system, which is operated by the
international supervisory team, is an essential safety feature. Not
only does it support the operational capability of the demining unit,
it is also an important component of the medical evacuation system in
the event of an accident.
Management and local supervision.
In order to bring together all components, including training,
funding, procurement of equipment and various materials, insurance,
and all other items associated with the demining operations, PADCA, in
conjunction with the OAS national offices, has established a local
coordinating mechanism for the Program. It includes personnel,
technical equipment, and the operating expenses of a coordinating
office (maintenance, services, telephone, fax, vehicles, and the
salaries of administrative personnel and drivers).
Management and international
supervision. In order to ensure coordination of the efforts made at
headquarters with all components at the national, regional, and
international levels, UPD and IADB representatives make regular
program coordination, review, and accounting visits to the demining
sites. These visits provide an opportunity to solve problems and plan
III. Program Update and Description
Nicaragua. In September 1991, the
Government of Nicaragua asked the OAS to help eliminate 116,000
landmines sown on Nicaraguan soil during the 10 years of national
conflict. These mines, predominantly antipersonnel mines that had been
commercially produced, had been laid along the northern border with
Honduras and along the southern border with Costa Rica. A considerable
number of mines had also been laid to protect electrical power plants,
transmission towers, highway bridges, and strategic materiel storage
In response to the Nicaraguan
request, the OAS and the IADB designed a joint, internationally
financed demining program for Nicaragua in 1992. The program was
launched in 1993, and training, provision of equipment, and
supervision for the demining operations took place between March and
December 1993. Efforts to support this pilot supervisory program were
forced to come to an end in late 1993 when international funding ran
out. Nicaraguan authorities pursued the efforts by themselves, with
occasional support from technical assistance visits and with equipment
replacement. The OAS/IADB Program resumed in 1996 with new
international funding in an effort to restore support for the national
demining program executed by the Nicaraguan Army.
Currently, the national program has
15 platoons, with approximately 300 people working on four fronts
across the country. Two of these fronts receive direct financial and
technical support from PADCA, whereas the other two get their
financing directly from the international community.
The OAS/IADB project also includes
a pilot project for physical and rehabilitation assistance for mine
victims and an intensive public information and prevention campaign to
inform the population of the dangers of mines and explosive devices in
those areas. This has been done by means of presentations by program
supervisors and the distribution of teaching aids on the subject.
Nicaraguan government authorities
have reported that more than 43,000 mines have been destroyed since
the beginning of the program, with about 73,000 mines still to be
destroyed. The bulk of these mines (about 50,000) are located in
remote areas along the border with Honduras.
Joint Honduran-Nicaraguan Module.
At the request of the governments of Nicaragua and Honduras, the OAS/IADB
international supervisor team will coordinate a series of operating
demining modules to be executed along the border area by the military
forces of both countries, in a simultaneous and coordinated effort to
enhance efficiency in the use of the resources and to reduce the costs
and time associated with these efforts. To this end, a technical team
composed of OAS/IADB members and national representatives is examining
the border area and reviewing each country's national plans to
ascertain what more is needed in each country to reach the goal of
making Central America a landmine-free zone as soon as possible.
Honduras. It should be noted that
Honduras has no registries of minefields. The mined areas generally
lie along the border area with Nicaragua and include trails, storage
areas, and security posts used during the past armed conflict in the
region. The OAS/IADB program in Honduras began in 1994 with training
and equipment supply phases. Demining operations began in September
1995 and have continued uninterruptedly, with a team of sappers (120
soldiers) and 13 international supervisors.
During the six operating modules in
Honduras, more than 3,000 landmines have been destroyed in the region
and 526 hectares of agricultural land have been rehabilitated for
productive use, directly benefiting more than 350 landowners and 2,500
families. Likewise, a significant number of dangerous explosive
devices have been removed from the area involved.
Once the demining modules are
completed, these lands are handed over to the civilian authorities in
solemn ceremonies, thus boosting public confidence in the possibility
of returning to agricultural activities. If demining continues at the
same pace in Honduras, it is expected that the national program could
conclude in 1999, with Module VIII or IX.
Costa Rica. Costa Rica is the
smallest of the national projects coordinated by the OAS. Estimates
indicate that there are about 2,000 mines in the region. A total of 37
Costa Rican sappers conduct the demining operations under the
supervision of two members of the OAS/IADB international team. Even
though it is well known that antipersonnel mines in Costa Rica are
concentrated in four general areas along the Nicaraguan border, there
are no detailed, specific registries of their location. As a result,
they are difficult to find and destroy and the process has become much
slower and more painstaking and dangerous.
The project's activities have
concentrated lately on the expert assessment, localization, and
marking of the new suspicious zones, as well as on public awareness
and prevention. The detection, probing, and destruction of mines have
been temporarily suspended for lack of air evacuation capabilities.
This drawback is in the process of being solved thanks to
international cooperation and the government's efforts.
This national project is now in
Module IV. A total of 57 mines have been destroyed. While the number
of mines destroyed may seem small, what it is important is that the
inhabitants of these regions have regained their confidence to go back
to work the land. The planned date for concluding demining in the
country is late 2000.
Guatemala. In this country, PADCA,
joining the efforts made by friendly countries and international
organizations to help the Guatemalan Government meet the commitments
arising from the Agreement on Firm and Lasting Peace, which ended more
than 36 years of armed conflict in that country, initiated, in
December 1997, the project for implementation of the National Plan for
Demining and the Destruction of Explosive Devices.
This national project is the
responsibility of the Demining Coordinating Commission of the Congress
of Guatemala. Participating actively in the Commission are the
Volunteer Firemen's Corps and the Corps of Engineers of the Guatemalan
Army, both of which are responsible for implementing activities under
the National Plan for Demining and Destruction of Explosive Devices.
The overall objective of this
national project is to provide for execution and administration of the
National Plan so as to remove from Guatemalan territory landmines and
explosive devices that are strewn over much of the country as a result
of the armed conflict. The specific objective is to assist in the
establishment, training, equipping, and maintenance of a national
technical organization and capacity charged with destroying the
antipersonnel mines and explosive devices.
Explosive devices (grenades,
mortars, bombs, etc.) represent a significant problem in Guatemala,
particularly in the north and west of the country--areas that were the
scene of a series of armed conflicts. Various estimates have been
given of the number of devices that exist in these areas. The national
project currently estimates that the number of devices in the process
of being destroyed ranges from 5,000 to 8,000. There are no known
registries for these affected areas, which are not technically
considered to be minefields, in the traditional sense of the word.
Guatemalan authorities have provided a list of 125 sites that are most
likely considered to have concentrations of explosive devices, which
will serve as a reference for search and destroy operations. These
devices will be detected in the aforementioned areas with the help of
expert assessment, based on the information provided by the locals and
former combatants, as a result of the public awareness and information
campaigns. Operations will begin in mid-November near the village of
Ixcán, in the Department of Quiché.
IV. Expansion of the Program as a
result of Hurricane Mitch
All countries of Central America
were severely affected by Hurricane Mitch. In addition to the general
devastation it produced in the region, it caused a significant
disruption of humanitarian landmine removal operations under way in
In this regard, the Organization of
American States, with cooperation from the governments of the affected
countries, is studying a way to expand the program for removal of
antipersonnel landmines and explosive devices in the region, which is
coordinated by the OAS and funded by various donor countries and
OAS Secretary General Dr. César
Gaviria, has made several recent visits to Central America to assess
the overall damage to the region and in particular to observe Mitch's
impact on the demining efforts the OAS had sponsored since 1993.
Despite the storm damage in Costa
Rica and Guatemala, there has been no substantial change in the
landmine and explosive device situation in those countries. In Costa
Rica, it is hoped that demining operations along the border with
Nicaragua will resume shortly with the reestablishment of a
helicopter-based medical evacuation capability. The absence of this
evacuation capability in recent months had hampered operations in the
country. The problem is in the process of being solved through the
efforts of PADCA/OAS, the donor community, and the Costa Rican
Government. Funding to support this national effort will be available
In Guatemala, operations to destroy
mines and unexploded ordnance began on November 2, 1998. This national
program has sufficient international funding for its operations during
the rest of 1998 and through 1999.
The hurricane's effects have been
most dramatic in Nicaragua and Honduras, where there is a sense of
urgency that demining efforts should be expanded to reduce the public
safety hazard of the shifting of landmines from their original
positions, which could result in further casualties and stand in the
way, inter alia, of the rehabilitation of damaged and destroyed
infrastructure, hampering the restoration of public services.
Additionally, the hurricane destroyed a substantial portion of
Honduras' demining equipment.
In Nicaragua, the forces of nature
moved the mines along mountain slopes and riverbeds and added large
quantities of mud and debris to an already challenging detection and
destruction scenario. It is estimated that there are some 576 target
areas in the country yet to be demined. They include border areas,
high-tension electrical towers, facilities, bridges, and other
structures. As a result of Hurricane Mitch, and because of the new
sense of urgency it has brought in its wake, authorities consider
these 70 target areas as their top demining priorities, in an effort
to rehabilitate roads and repair or replace damaged and destroyed
bridges. It is calculated that 73,000 mines must still be destroyed.
It is therefore estimated that the
goal of demining Central America by the year 2000 will be deeply
The OAS Mine-Clearing Program in
Central America (PADCA) is working with the governments of Honduras
and Nicaragua to develop the outline for a revised program to expand
operations in 1999 and 2000. While the details of an expanded demining
infrastructure have not been finalized, the general thrust of the
expansion is to double the capacity coordinated by the OAS in the two
In Honduras, this would mean
training, equipping, and supervising four additional platoons (about
120 national sappers). The increased capacity would permit Honduran
sappers to simultaneously clear mines along the two remaining
stretches of its border with Nicaragua (San Andrés de Bocay and
In Nicaragua the number of demining
platoons supervised by the OAS/IADB would double from 8 to 16. This
expanded demining capacity would add over 200 Nicaraguan Army sappers
to the internationally supervised effort.
The expanded demining operations in
Nicaragua and Honduras would require the donor countries to increase
their contributions by approximately US $9 million ($9,000,000) over
the next two years. This would be in addition to funds already
provided by donors to support the PADCA infrastructure, consisting of
more than 400 Central American sappers.
Furthermore, 25 to 30 more
international supervisors would be needed, over and above those
already provided by OAS cooperating member states, which so far have
provided military officers who are experts in demining for year-long
assignments as supervisors, at no additional cost to the program.
V. Final Comments
It is important to recall that the
OAS/IADB Mine-Clearing Program in Central American is essentially a
humanitarian program in support of the national efforts of the
affected states to strengthen their national capabilities to enable
their own institutions to carry out demining activities. In this
connection, all affected countries have made significant progress in
establishing their capacities and in destroying mines.
The broad participation of the
regional and international communities in lending their support to
PADCA and the affected countries bears witness to the Hemisphere-wide
humanitarian commitment to support demining in Central America so that
the Central American region may be free of mines as soon as possible.
The OAS General Assembly, at its most recent regular session, held in
Caracas, Venezuela, in 1998, sought to reinforce these activities with
programs in the affected countries aimed at the rehabilitation of mine
victims and the socioeconomic reclamation of demined areas. To that
end, relevant studies and international negotiations are under way to
obtain necessary financing.
Lastly, the OAS/IADB wishes once
again to draw attention to and to acknowledge the invaluable support
of the donor and cooperating countries, the Inter American Defense
Board, and the beneficiary nations themselves for their contributions,
which have been key factors in the Program's success.
Briefing by Major General John
Thompson President, Inter-American Defense Board
The Demining Assistance Program in
Central America has become, in the words of Secretary General Gaviria,
a model for other mine clearance programs in the world. However, as we
move into the Program’s fifth year of continuous operation since it
was reinitiated in Honduras in 1995, we face several important
challenges in the near future. Some of these challenges have been
created by nature itself, while others are a logical result of a
growing desire to expand a successful Program. Our readiness to
respond to these challenges is a key theme that I want to emphasize
during this presentation.
Today I will cover three broad
topics related to the Demining Assistance Program: • First, the
advances and progress that have been made in the Program in the past
few months, • Second, the impact of Hurricane Mitch on demining
efforts throughout Central America, and • Finally, some projections
and concerns as we move forward with the Program through this year and
the years to come.
In only the past few months,
several important steps have been taken. In September, the leadership
of the Mission for Mine Clearance Assistance in Central America (MARMINCA)
was transferred from Col. Angel Omar Vivas of the Venezuelan army to
Lt. Col. Guillermo Leal of the Colombian army. At the same time,
eighteen new supervisors arrived in the Mission and received initial
training and preparation for assuming their duties. I am very pleased
that our demining effort now includes representatives of the countries
of Guatemala and, most recently, Argentina – who have joined Brazil,
Colombia, El Salvador, the United States and Venezuela in providing
officers and noncommissioned officers in support of our efforts.
In June of 1998 at the request of
the Government of Guatemala we began training Guatemalan personnel and
our demining operations there started in December.
Thanks to the financial backing
provided by the United States, we added an important new dimension to
the program late in 1998 with the deployment and training of twelve
mine detection dogs to the republics of Costa Rica, Honduras and
Nicaragua. The incorporation into the demining effort of these dogs
and their host country handlers has been both needed and opportune, as
they completed their final training in time to be employed in
emergency demining operations in response to Hurricane Mitch. The
preliminary results of operations using these unique assets have been
extremely positive. We believe that the use of dogs will not only
improve the pace of demining operations by identifying mined areas
more quickly and precisely, but they will also provide a valuable
resource in rechecking areas after they have been cleared by sapper
By the end of 1998, the OAS/IADB
demining program had destroyed nearly 7,000 anti-personnel landmines.
The difficulty of this task is best reflected by the fact that for
every mine destroyed, about seventeen metallic objects, mostly
battlefield remnants and trash, were also found. The painstaking
process of identifying mines and distinguishing them from other bits
of metal is one of the key demining tasks which we hope to expedite
through the use of canine mine detection techniques.
IMPACT OF MITCH
We are all aware of the devastating
impact which Hurricane Mitch has had on the nations of Central
America. The Secretary General has focused special attention on the
recovery needs of the Central American republics, making personal
visits to several of the affected countries soon after the passing of
the storm. One of his principal areas of concern has been the
rehabilitation of the Demining Assistance Program as quickly as
possible. Several follow-up visits were made by both the Unit for
Promotion of Democracy and the IADB staff, and I also visited
Nicaragua and Honduras in early January to make an assessment of the
situation with respect to demining operations.
Because of the immediate effects of
the storm, operations in each of the countries where we are working
were halted for nearly a month, while the governments dealt with
immediate storm recovery needs. However, the demining programs in
Costa Rica and Guatemala suffered no serious long-term effects because
In the cases of Honduras and
Nicaragua, however, demining activities have been more severely
affected. Much of this can be explained by the fact that the track of
the storm corresponded very closely to the areas with the greatest
concentration of mines, principally along the border between Honduras
A considerable amount of demining
equipment was lost in Honduras due to flooding of the Rio Coco.
Nonetheless, with the replacement of most essential items, Honduran
troops have also returned to mine clearance work.
Although there were no major
equipment losses in Nicaragua, the effects of Mitch were substantially
greater with respect to the mine situation. Indications are that some
mines may have been displaced by flooding, increasing the risk of
accidents around previously unmined or cleared areas. The diversion of
troops, helicopters and other equipment to disaster relief efforts
also temporarily paralyzed demining operations. In short, the delays
to mine clearing operations and the transformation of the landscape
caused by Mitch will result in an increase in the time required to
complete the demining program in Nicaragua unless more resources are
put into the effort there.
ACTIONS IN NICARAGUA
Cconsidering that Nicaragua is the
country where the mine problem has been most significantly exacerbated
by Mitch, it has been the primary focus of our efforts to reestablish
and reevaluate the demining program.
The Nicaraguan Government has asked
for our help with three main problems. To eliminate the new hazard of
mines from previously mine-free areas and permit relief and
reconstruction efforts to go forward, Nicaragua sought to implement an
emergency demining plan around numerous bridges and fords along key
transportation routes. The Government also requested a reassessment of
the entire demining program to determine both resource requirements
and new time frames for completion of the Program. The Government also
asked the OAS and the IADB to provide planning assistance for the
reformulation of both the national demining plan and the OAS/IADB plan
for demining assistance.
In response to their requests,
several steps have been taken to date.
First, an emergency demining plan
was implemented to clear numerous bridges and fords of mines,
particularly in the northern portion of the country, where relief and
reconstruction efforts have been focused. IADB supervisors worked with
Nicaraguan troops through the Christmas holidays to ensure that these
operations went forward.
Second, a geographic hydrological
study has been undertaken to determine the general effects of erosion
on the mine situation.
Third, the OAS has approached
several key donor countries for additional financial support for an
expanded demining effort.
Finally, the OAS, with technical
advice from the IADB, has begun the process of modifying its
assistance plan for Nicaragua, in conjunction with the effort by
Nicaragua to modify their national demining plan.
The reassessment of the demining
assistance program in Nicaragua and development a new OAS/IADB
assistance plan, is a significant task for us, one that will require
both careful study on our part and in all likelihood increased
However, we face other equally
important challenges. If we are to satisfy the Nicaraguan request for
expansion of the OAS/IADB program and full international supervision
of all demining operations in Nicaragua, we will need as many as
twenty to twenty-five more supervisors than are currently assigned to
Expansion and continuation of the
program in Nicaragua will also require significantly greater financial
and material resources.
Let me conclude by summarizing some
First, the IADB continues to work
with our counterparts in the OAS to achieve the objective of
eliminating the threat of landmines from Central America. We are
constantly to make refinements to the Program and to introduce the
newest techniques and technologies. From a technical point of view, we
believe that these innovations will enhance the already excellent
reputation enjoyed by the Program.
Second, it is clear that Hurricane
Mitch has had a significant impact on the demining program. As Dr.
Gaviria has pointed out, the OAS/IADB program is a successful model of
civil-military collaboration and hemispheric cooperation to solve an
important humanitarian problem. However, the tragedy of Hurricane
Mitch has had an even more negative impact on the existing tragedy
caused by anti-personnel landmines in the region. Nicaragua, because
it is the nation with the most serious existing landmine problem, is
the country whose demining program was most seriously affected by
In light of these effects and
following a careful reassessment, we will continue planning an
expansion of the demining program, particularly in Nicaragua. We will
also review how we can improve the Program in Costa Rica, Guatemala
and Honduras, adding new operational and technological concepts where
Remarks by William A. McDonough
I would like to thank Ambassador
Portales and the members of the Hemispheric Security Committee for the
opportunity to provide update information on matters relating to land
mines in Central America in accordance with General Assembly
Resolution 1568. As General Thompson indicated in his presentation, we
have now entered our fifth year of continuous operations in the
Assistance Program which was designed to help the affected
participating countries rid themselves of the effects of this great
humanitarian tragedy of 20th Century. I plan to add a few brief
comments from a program coordination perspective with emphasis on the
proposed expansion of the regional effort and what it will mean for
donors, contributors, and participating countries, as well as the OAS
The Inter-American Defense Board
presentation provides a good, clear picture from a technical
perspective on where we are today (especially in the aftermath of
Hurricane Mitch). We have also distributed an updated version of the
Program’s informative paper. This document describes in further detail
the origins, structure and general operating methodology of Assistance
Program. We prepared the update in advance of our participation in the
Regional Seminar which Canada and Mexico hosted jointly in Mexico City
last month. I understand that the Commission will receive a separate
report on the matter, but I would like to compliment Canada and Mexico
for conducting an important, timely and well organized Seminar. It was
a pleasure to participate and was gratifying to hear the OAS/IADB
Demining Program recognized as both a model program and a successful
As a continuation of our efforts to
assist the Central American countries with the landmine issue, a joint
OAS/IADB delegation will be in Nicaragua next week to further refine
the details of the international support which will be needed to
reformulate its demining program. This is our third trip in as many
months. A similar delegation will visit Honduras in the weeks that
I think it is important to point
out that the Program is a rather complex organization. Throughout its
existence, the Assistance Program for Demining in Central America has
functioned very much like a convoy of vehicle, determined to achieve a
common goal of a landmine free Central America. Each element in this
complex organization (donor, contributor, participant, OAS and IADB)
has a certain liberty of movement within the Program, but unless all
of the efforts are coordinated, our progress is limited, sporadic and
costly. In that regard, as the individual countries work with us to
reformulate their plans, we will develop and present the required
international financing support plans. Similarly, and with regard to
the need for more international supervisors, the Program may require
as many as 25 additional representatives from OAS member Nations.
Their arrival and incorporation into the Program must be timely and
consistent with the formation of new demining units in Nicaragua and
Honduras. In an effort to recruit more supervisors, a series of
letters have already been forwarded through several channels to Member
International financing is an
important issue. The point made by General Thompson regarding the need
for vigorous fund raising is essential. The OAS/IADB Program as it is
functioning today requires approximately US 4.2 million per year in
operating funds. That figure includes about US$1 million per year in
Guatemala, US$1 million in Honduras, US$2 million in Nicaragua and
US$200,000 in Costa Rica. Preliminary estimates for the expanded
Program indicate a need for approximately US$8 million per year for
1999 and 2000 (twice the current international support level). Beyond
the year 2000, we would expect that, with the completion of the
national projects in Honduras, Guatemala and Costa Rica, the annual
cost of the Program would return to something on the order of US$4
million per year for the additional time needed to complete demining
in Nicaragua. We are currently in dialogue with several of our key
donors, and the initial reactions have been very positive.
Although as a final note, and a
cautionary one, I should point out that while our cost estimates are
grounded in the four years of demining program experience they may be
deceptive in one regard. What we have not included, but which appear
to be increasingly problematic is the need for additional equipment
infrastructure which will likely be beyond the capacity of some
participating countries to provide. These major items include
additional or replacement helicopters for medical evacuation
requirements, additional demining dog resources and the purchase of
some improved heavy duty, mechanical mine clearance devices as they
become available and it is appropriate to incorporate them into the
regional demining efforts.
I’ll stop here, subject to any
questions the Committee members might have. Once again, I would like
to thank the members of the Committee on Hemispheric Security for
their attention, interest and continued support in advancing the
demining program as an important regional humanitarian effort.
Ambassador Donald K. Steinberg
Presentation to the Mexico City Conference on Landmine Action:
“Reaffirming our Commitment” January 12, 1999
Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. I am
grateful for the opportunity to address this improtant conference on
the topic, “International Cooperation in Landmine Actin.” I want to
begin by saluting the organizers of the conferences --the Governments
of Mexico and Canada-- for their initiative in bringing together so
many officials from OAS governments, iinternational agencies, and
non-governmental organizations who have played such a fundamental role
in changing the global political landscape on this issue. On behalf of
my government, I wish to recognize all of your courabeous efforts to
achieve the entry into force of the Ottawa Convention and reiterae my
Government’s strongest support for the goal of a world which is
mine-safe within the next decade –a goal which the United States is
facilitating within its Demining 2010 initiative.
Landmines have been an everyday
part of my life for the better part of this decade. I remember
traveling with National Security Advisor Anthony Lake to Ethiopia,
Rwanda, Burundi, Mozambique, and Angola – five of the world’s most
heavily-mined countries – in 1994 when I was serving as President
Clinton’s Special Assistant for Africa. In Angola, a country in which
a dozen separate armies have laid millions of mines, we visited Kuito,
a city that had been destroyed by three decades of civil war.
In a small clinic, we saw a young
woman who was giving birth and having part of her leg amputated at the
same time. The doctor later told us that this woman was pregnant and
had been starving. She went into a grove of mangos to get some fruit,
and detonated a landmine that had been planted purposely in the field.
The loss of blood had stimulated premature labor, and the doctor told
us that it was unlikely that either the mother or the child would
No one who sees such a sight can be
immune to the terror of these weapons. Later, when I was named U.S.
Ambassador to Angola, I have witnessed for more than three years the
daily tragedy of landmines, including more than 80, 000 amputees,
hundreds of thousands of displaced persons driven from their homes and
fertile fields, and literally millions suffering economic,
environmental and psychological degradation. It was for this reason
that I was so honored to be named by President Clinton to my current
role, giving me the opportunity to build on the outstanding work of my
predecessor, Ambassador Rick Inderfurth.
As we discuss international
cooperation in mine action, we have much to learn from the success of
the movement which came together to being us to where we are today – a
coalition of likeminded Governments, NGOs and international agencies.
As Canadian Foreign Minister Axworthy stated yesterday, the challenge
ahead – which he defined as eliminating the threat of landmines to
civilians in the Western Hemisphere as soon as possible and to
civilians around the world within the next decade – may be even more
daunting than the remarkable challenges overcome in bringing the
Ottawa Treaty into force. My Government has dedicated more than $250
million to humanitarian mine action over the past five years, and we
will be expanding our efforts to well over $100 million in 1999. I
will describe the elements of this assistance later, but I want to
stress at the outset that no government, no international agency, and
no NGO on its own has the capacity to make more than a small dent on
the problem. We must work together.
Coming from conferences held over
the past year, including the Washington Conference in May 1998, are a
variety of cooperative efforts to which my Government is committed.
• Joint mine awareness programs; •
Comprehensive level-one surveys in mine-affected countries; • Creating
and maintaining a database of landmines, demining programs, and
survivor assistance efforts around the world, especially through the
Geneva International Center and James Madison University; • Supporting
the U. N. Mine Action Service, the UNDP country projects, and the
Norwegian-inspired Mine Action Support Group; • Promoting Mine Action
Centers in mine-affected countries, which empower local governments
and peoples to address their own problems; • Working with our European
Commission colleagues and others to identify a global network of test
and evaluation facilities to assess promising demining technology and
develop international technology demonstration projects; • Working
with out NATO and Partnership for Peace friends to encourage joint
mine action projects – indeed, Deputy Special Representative Priscilla
Clapp is now in Brussels to encourage these joint efforts; •
Supporting survivor assistance efforts, including both the supply of
prosthetics and orthotics as well as addressing the psycho-social and
other impediments to rehabilitation and reintegration; • Encouraging
unilateral steps by non-signatories of the Ottawa Convention that help
achieve the goals of that treaty; and • Reviewing types of assistance
we can provide to help destroy existing stockpile of mine in countries
requesting this help, thereby eliminating the threat of these mines
before they ever enter the ground.
On this last point, I salute the
commitment of the Nicaraguan Government, announced last week to
destroy its existing stocks.
As we work to achieve these
objectives, barriers between nations and among governments,
international agencies and NGOs must fade away. In Angola, I was proud
that the U.S. Embassy was able to fund the demining efforts of the
Norwegian People’s Aid, the British HALO Trust, and the German MGM;
mines awareness programs of UNICEF, ICRC, Christina Children’s Fund,
CARE and the Angolan Government; and survivors’ assistance programs of
the German Medicos, the French Handicap International and VVAF. The
child whose quality of life is restored by a prosthetic device never
asks the nationality of his or her doctor.
Developing new ways around the
world to engage the private sector in mine action is a critical part
of our effort. We have been working with a number of private partners
to pool our creative talents and resources to develop imaginative
approaches. I would like to highlight a few of these noteworthy
projects as a means of inspiring other Governments to consider similar
efforts. First, my Government is supporting the United Nations
Association and HDI in their “Adopt a Minefield” program, which is
working with the United Nations to fund demining efforts in
Afghanistan, Bosnia, Cambodia, Croatia, and Mozambique. Already, 100
separate community based organizations in the United States have begun
to raise $25,000 or more each to support U. N. and host country
efforts to destroy mine fields in these countries.
Second, late last year, DC Comics,
the U.S. Defense Department, and UNICEF came together to produce a
mine awareness comic book in Spanish, in which Superman and Wonder
Woman help teach the children of Central America to identify and avoid
contact with these weapons. This is a follow-up to successful comic
book produced for the children of Bosnia. The next project in line is
a Portuguese-language version for Mozambique and Angola.
Third, the Marshall Legacy
Institute has initiated a “Canine Corps” project in collaboration with
the Humane Society of the United States, UNDP, DC Comics and the State
Department. The Humane Society’s engagement is due, in part, to the
fact that whereas landmines harm about 26,000 human beings each year,
they also kill as many as ten times that number of animals. This
project is designed to expand use of dogs in mine detection efforts in
Fourth, our Department of Education
is supporting groundbreaking research by the Physicians Against
Landmines in research aimed at developing low-cost prosthetics with
appropriate technology, especially for children.
Fifth, we are supporting, along
with Ted Turner’s United Nations Foundation and the Canadian
Government, the rapid production by the VVAF of standardized, high
quality level-one surveys in 10 mine-affected countries. This program
will provide the framework for planning new strategies, minimizing the
impact of landmines, and giving us criteria for measuring the success
of mines action projects. This program will also help those countries
that have ratified the Ottawa treaty to meet their reporting
obligations under Article 7 of the Treaty.
Another exciting initiative is a
series of consultation we have launched with major U.S. corporations
to encourage them to use portions of their social responsibility funds
to address the problems of mines, such as the outstanding
rehabilitation efforts of groups like the Landmine Survivors Network.
We are also encouraging these
corporations -- as well as government entities, NGOs and other
employers -- to institute programs to recruit, train, and mentor
survivors of landmine accidents, especially for efforts addressed
specifically at mine actions.
These projects are some of the ways
in which the United States, working with foreign governments,
international agencies, and NGOs, is working to create a synergy among
our mutual efforts. In sum the United States Government intends to
provide this year more than $100 million for mine actioins, including:
$35 million for mine awareness,
mine mapping, and demining assistance to 25 countries under the State
$34 million for the training of
foreign deminers and for mine awareness projects under the Defense
$18 million for research and
development in demining technology;
$10 million in assistance to
landmine survivors under the USAID Patrick J. Leahy War Victims Fund;
Substantial additional funding from
Department of State and USAID for projects associated with the
repatriation of refugees and displaced persons.
I would be remiss if I did not pay
tribute here to the leadership of Senator Patrick Leahy and his
legislative assistant , Tim Rieser, who have done so much to raise
public awareness in the United States and generate this level of
In the Western Hemisphere, U.S.
efforts have concentrated on Central America, where we have provided
about $8 million in assistance over the past years, working through
the OAS Mission for Mine Clearance in Central America and the
Inter-American Defense Board, and the World Rehabilitation Fund in El
Today, I am pleased to outline my
Government’s intention to fund additional projects in the Western
Hemisphere in fiscal year 1999, pending consultations with the U.S.
Congress. In Central America, we intend to provide another $4 million
to assist the effort to make this a “mine-safe” region as soon as
possible, especially in the wake of the devastation created by
Hurricane Mitch. This assistance comes on the top of the $300 million
provided by my Government in emergency relief over the past three
months. Working with MARMINCA and the IADB, we will provide additional
training, technical assistance, logistical support, medical and
communications assistance, and mine awareness programs in Guatemala,
Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica.
In Peru and Ecuador, my Government
intends -- as a guarantor nation of the peace accords -- to allocate
substantial resources to begin demarcation and demining work along the
border. Pending the results of an assessment team that will travel to
the region within the next few weeks, we are prepared to provide both
short-term assistance associated with the star-up of this operation
and long-term training assistance.
Throughout this hemisphere – from
Central America tot he Peru-Ecuador border -- men and women of good
will and great courage are putting behind them years and even decades
of civil strife. The United States will stand shoulder-to-shoulder
with these brave people as they stand up for peace and national
reconciliation. We urge all our fellow OAS partners here today to make
a similar commitment of direct assistance for those mine action
I want to conclude with a few words
about our anti-personnel landmine (APL) policy. You are all familiar
with the compelling reasons identified by my Government for not
signing the Ottawa Convention. I hope you are equally familiar with
the efforts we are taking to eliminate antipersonnel landmines and
Since 1996, the United States has
destroyed 3.3 million onon-self-destructing APL -- all of our
long-lived APL except those needed for defense in Korea and training.
We have pledged to end the use of
all APL outside Korea by 2003.
We are aggressively pursuing the
objective of having APL alternatives ready for Korea by 2006.
We are also aggressively pursuing
alternatives to our mixed anti-tank systems, which are covered by the
We are expanding our research not
only to seek alternatives, but to redefine military strategies to
eliminate the need for APLs.
We are committed to transparency on
landmine issues, and are proud to be among the only countries meeting
their reporting obligations under the OAS resolutions and other
Let me assure you that the United
States will remain in the forefront of the struggle to eliminate the
threat to civilians from anti-personnel landmines. When it comes to
reaffirming our commitment to an anti-personnel landmine safe world,
as we used to say in Angola: “Estamos Juntos.” Muito obrigado, gracias
and thank you.
Presentación por el Representante
Permanente de México ante la OEA Embajador Claude Heller
SEMINARIO REGIONAL SOBRE MINAS
TERRESTRES ANTIPERSONAL “ASUMIENDO NUESTRO COMPROMISO”
CONCLUSIONES DE LOS RELATORES
Partiendo del compromiso contenido
en la Convención de Ottawa de 1997 sobre la Prohibición del Uso,
Almacenamiento, Producción y Transferencia de Minas Antipersonal y
sobre su Destrucción, México y Canadá, con el apoyo de la Organización
de los Estados Americanos (OEA) y de la Organización Panamericana de
la Salud (OPS), convocaron un Seminario Regional sobre Minas
Antipersonal en la Ciudad de México el 11 y 12 de enero de 1999.
La inauguración a cargo de los
Cancilleres de México y Canadá, Embajadora Rosario Green y Señor Lloyd
Axworthy, con la participación del Secretario General de la OEA, Dr.
César Gaviria, del Director General de la OPS, Dr. George Alleyne, y
de la Embajadora de la Campaña Internacional para la Prohibición de
Minas Terrestres (ICBL), Sra. Jody Williams, estableció el marco de
referencia de dinámicas y frustíferas discusiones. El Seminario reunió
a representantes de gobiernos y de organizaciones no gubernamentales
del Hemisferio, así como de organismos e instituciones internacionales
y los principales países donantes.
Este Seminario constituyó la
primera reunión de este tipo desde la firma de la Convencnión de
Ottawa, brindando a los países del hemisferio la oportunidad de
reafirmar su compromiso con la completa y eficaz puesta en práctica de
la Convención, de cara a su próxima entrada en vigor (1 de marzo de
1999) y con vistas a la primera Reunión de los Estados Partes que se
celebrará en Maputo, Mozambique del 3 al 7 de mayo de 1999.
México, Canadá y la OPS firmaron un
Memorándum de Entendimiento sobre un Programa Conjunto para la
Rehabilitación de Víctimas de Minas en Centroamérica. La ejecución del
Programa comienza de inmediato.
Los participantes en el Seminario
reconocieron en forma unánime los logros alcanzados en materia de
desminado en Centroamérica, así como el carácter pionero de éstos, y
pusieron énfasis en la contribución significativa de la OEA y de un
grupo de países donantes para este propósito. Reconocieron la
necesidad de intensificar estos esfuerzos, en vista de los retrocesos
que se han producido como resultado del Huracán Mitch.
Los participantes acogieron también
con beneplácito el anuncio que hicieron Ecuador y Perú sobre el inicio
de actividades de levantamiento de minas a lo largo de su frontera,
como resultado de su reciente acuerdo de paz. Asimismo, tomaron nota
de su solicitud de asistencia por parte de la región, y en general, de
respaldo a sus esfuerzos bilaterales.
De los dos días de intensos
intercambios de opiniones en el Seminario permiten destacar, inter
alia, las siguientes conclusiones:
• Se insta a los Estados de la
región que aún no lo han hecho a firmar la Convención como
contribución esencial al objetivo de hacer del hemisferio una zona
libre de minas antipersonal.
• La pronta ratificación de la
Convención es indispensable para alcanzar el reto de la puesta en
práctica de sus disposiciones.
• Se exhorta a los Estados que aún
no lo han hecho a ratificar la Convención antes de la reunión de
• Nuestra meta es la de conseguir
la universalidad de la Convención.
• Se insta a los Estados
signatarios a no realizar actos que puedan ir en contra del fin y del
espíritu de la Convención.
• La Convención es aplicable en
toda circunstancia y no sólo al término de un conflicto armado.
• Se hace un llamado a todos los
Estados a actuar con transparencia, mediante el recurso a mecanismos
La presentación de informes
anuales al Registro de la OEA; El cumplimiento de lo dispuesto en el
Artículo 7 de la Convención de Ottawa, incluyendo a los no signatarios
en forma voluntaria; La adopción de medidas unilaterales, tales como
moratorias de producción y transferencias; Apoyar o contribuir a las
actividades de monitoreo de la ICBL (los investigadores están
actualmente trabajando en informes sobre: Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa
Rica, Colombia, Cuba, Argentina, Brasil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador y
• Se reconoció que la destrucción
de existencias de minas constituye una acción para prevenir el uso de
• Se insta a todos los Estados a
destruir sus existencias de minas.
• Se recomienda la adopción de
estrategias nacionales para resolver los problemas existentes, en
consulta con todos los sectores de la sociedad.
• Se reconoció que es imperativo
contar con un enfoque integral para la asistencia de las víctimas de
minas antipersonal. • La falta de recursos no debe ser considerada
como un impedimento para cumplir con las obligaciones de la Convención.
Los Estados deben solicitar o proporcionar, según el caso, la
asistencia necesaria, al amparo del artículo 6 de la Convención.
• La colaboración entre gobiernos,
organizaciones no gubernamentales y organismos internacionales es un
medio esencial para alcanzar los objetivos de la Convención, y, en
particular, para generar la cooperación internacional que se requiere
para el pleno cumplimiento de las obligaciones asumidas.
• Las siguientes medidas concretas
fueron reconocidas como medios claros para contribuir al avance de la
agenda en materia de minas en el hemisferio:
Nicaragua: anuncio de su
intención de destruir todas sus minas almacenadas en marzo de 1999.
Perú y Ecuador: Desminado de su frontera, en congruencia con el
Acuerdo de Paz de 1998. Antigua y Barbuda: Compromiso de ratificar
la Convención antes de la reunión de Maputo. Estados Unidos:
Compromiso de eliminar todas las minas emplazadas por Estados Unidos
alrededor de la Base de Gunatánamo en Cuba al término de 1999 y
anunció un incremento de sus contribuciones para el desminado.
Estados Unidos y Canadá: Proporcionarán asistencia a Ecuador y Perú
para el desminado.
• Se estimó que debe fortalecerse
el papel de la OEA, en colaboración con las Naciones Unidas, con
vistas a una mejor utilización de los recursos con que cuenta la
• Se reconoció el papel global del
Centro para la Acción en Materia de Minas de las Naciones Unidas como
punto de referencia para canalizar los esfuerzos de los donantes.
El seminario reiteró el compromiso
del hemisferio de mantener la voluntad política necesaria para
instrumentar la agenda en materia de minas.
EMBAJADOR CLAUDE HELLER EMBAJADORA
JILL SINCLAIR RELATOR POR PARTE DE MÉXICO RELATORA POR PARTE DE CANADÁ
PRESENTATION BY RENATA E. WIELGOSZ
COUNSELLOR, ALTERNATE REPRESENTATIVE OF CANADA ON THE OTTAWA
CONVENTION AND ITS PROMOTION AT THE LANDMINES SEMINAR HELD IN MEXICO
CITY ON JANUARY 11-12, 1999
Canada shares Mexico’s satisfaction
with the good turnout and the high quality of participation both from
throughout the Hemisphere and from donor countries – bringing together
representatives from government, key international organizations and
civil society – at the Landmines Seminar which we co-hosted in Mexico
City on January 11th and 12th.
The level of participation
certainly showed that our region continues to attract and maintain
sustained interest in the Ottawa process one year after the signing of
the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production
and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.
It is important that we keep up the
momentum and the commitment that we have demonstrated, as these are
the means whereby we will be able to meet the provisions of the
Convention for effective mine action.
Signing the Convention was only the
first step and perhaps the easiest. In record time, we reached the 40
ratifications required to trigger the Entry into Force process. Less
than one month from now – on March 1, 1999 – the Convention will enter
into force and become international law with over 130 signatories of
which to date over 60 have completed ratification.
As seen clearly in the discussions
at the Landmines Seminar in Mexico City, now we must focus on the more
difficult steps, namely implementation and universalization of the
Convention. In this regard, it is Canada’s hope that as many countries
as possible will ratify the Convention before the First Meeting of
States Parties in Maputo, Mozambique scheduled for the first week of
At the Landmines Seminar in Mexico
City, Minister Axworthy challenged us to arrive in Maputo with our
ratification process and reaffirming our commitment to a global ban on
As a region, we are halfway there.
I am pleased to confirm that 16 OAS member states have now ratified
the Ottawa Convention – with Barbados and El Salvador depositing their
instruments of ratification sine the Landmines Seminar in Mexico City.
I would like to think that the Landmines Seminar had something to do
with these latest ratifications.
On a personal note, taking to heart
the strong message that emerged from the Landmines Seminar that
countries that have ratified the Convention should adopt a country
that has not yet ratified or not signed and proceed to “flog” it – I
promptly assailed Ambassador Granillo of El Salvador with results more
rapid that I had ever hoped for when embarking on my friendly attack.
Based on that experience, I urge each of you whose country has
ratified the Convention to respond to the Landmine Seminar’s call by
adopting as your personal cause a member state that has not yet
ratified or not yet signed.
After all, we are halfway there in
our region – but by the same token we still have halfway to go. With
ratification procedures underway in many other member states, we
expect to see the numbers increase over the coming months.
Nevertheless, we are concerned over the delays in ratification in a
region that has shown so much interest in this issue.
Concern over delays led to another
message that emerged clearly at the Landmines Seminar and which I
would like to reiterate here today. Namely, should countries require
assistance with their ratification process – help is available.
• The UN has prepared documents
explaining how countries can deposit their instruments of
• The ICRC has produced a
ratification kit in several languages, including Spanish.
• Canada also has information on
how countries ratify and we are ready to help countries in the
Hemisphere who require and request assistance.
Meanwhile, regardless of whether
countries have already been able to sign or to ratify the Convention,
there are many steps which all can take to promote the mine action
agenda. As reflected in the Summary of Conclusions from the Landmines
Seminar which Mexico and Canada are tabling as a Permanent Council
document, these steps include:
• The destruction by countries of
their landmine stockpiles is imperative. The Convention views the
destruction of stockpiles as preventative mine action – because a mine
destroyed is a mine that will never again kill or maim a human being
or an animal. For the reason, the destruction of stockpiles emerged as
a matter of urgency and the highest priority in the discussions at the
Landmines Seminar in Mexico. Assistance with stockpile destruction is
available. For example, in our region Canada is working with Nicaragua
on anti-personnel mine stockpile destruction by providing technical
• Another step that all countries
can take is to provide support for humanitarian operations, mine
clearance and victim assistance. Any efforts in this regard, even
within the most limited resources, are helpful. Again, countries
requiring assistance should not hesitate to bring forward their
requests for help and they should not delay ratification of the Ottawa
Convention because of concerns that on their own they will be unable
to meet its deadline for demining. Help is available.
• In addition, all member states,
including non-signatories of the Ottawa Convention, can contribute to
the OAS Landmines Register, to the Landmine Monitor and under Article
7 of the Convention.
It is our hope that these concrete
steps, which are in keeping with the spirit of the Ottawa Convention,
will move us closer toward our shared goal of the Western Hemisphere
becoming a Landmine-Free Zone. For this reason, my delegation would
propose that the Committee on Hemispheric Security give consideration
to such steps in a follow-up resolution for this year’s General
With the goal of a Western
Hemisphere Landmine-Free Zone in mind, we need to redouble the efforts
of the OAS in Central America where Hurricane Mitch has complicated
and slowed down our demining objectives. We also need to be ready to
support future involvement in South America – as we have seen with the
peace agreement between Peru and Ecuador and the highly welcomed joint
statement by these two countries at the Landmines Seminar.