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International Strategy Conference: Towards a Global Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines

The so-called Ottawa Process began in 1996, right after the Ottawa Conference held from 3-5 October in Canada.

At the conference, like-minded States interested in banning anti-personnel mines were called upon by the then-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, to adopt a treaty prohibiting these type of landmines, and to do so within one year time, by October 1997.

UN records indicate that at the conference, the 50 participating States known as the “Ottawa Group”, agreed to “enhance cooperation and coordination of efforts to achieve their goals, including the earliest possible conclusion of a legally binding international agreement to ban anti-personnel mines,” the statetemt adopted by the majority of those participating is known as the Ottawa Declaration

The official follow-up conference was set up for June 1997 in Belgium, while several regional meetings in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Europe were also planned.

By November that year, the Austrian delegation had circulated through its embassies a draft convention text that would come to be known as the Austrian Draft Text. 

A “core group” of friendly States that included Austria, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, South Africa and Switzerland was supporting and promoting regional meetings and mine action forums with a view to adopt a treaty by 1997.

On 10 December 1996, resolution 51/45S, which attracted 115 co-sponsors, was adopted by 155 votes to none, with 10 abstentions.

It was intended “to pursue vigorously an effective, legally binding international agreement to ban the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines with a view to completing the negotiation as soon as possible”.

Two months later, an Expert Meeting on the Text of a Convention was called by Austria. The fast-track negotiation that would be known as the Ottawa Process, had begun.

The Ottawa Process continues

The plight of landmine survivors around the world was one of the catalysts for adopting the Convention. This photo shows a group of landmine survivors in Zimbabwe as they attended a community meeting.