Montana Model United Nations 2001
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General Assembly I:

TOPIC I

Landmines

Impact: Every 22 minutes a land mine explodes, maiming or killing 26,000 people a year. Most victims are not soldiers but women and children who happen to live in areas that were once war zones-more than 80% of estimated landmine casualties are civilians. These areas include Afghanistan, Angola, Iraq, Kuwait, Cambodia, Western Sahara, Mozambique, Somalia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, among others. These ten have the most active, buried landmines in the world. Estimates range from 9-10 million in Afghanistan to 1 million in Croatia. The other eight, respectively, are estimated at 9 million, 5-10 million, 5 million, 4-7 million, 1-2 million, 1-2 million, 1 million, and 1 million. In the last nine years, interest in the disarming of landmines has been brought to the forefront of international disarmament discussions, helped along by "celebrity" endorsers such as Princess Diana Spencer of Wales and Mother Theresa.

History:

In 1992, The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a nongovernmental initiative, was formed to increase awareness of the problem at hand and to rectify what they saw as a dangerous situation. Forty-five countries, including the United States and South Africa, have already declared moratoria or permanent bans on landmine exports. In 1995 and 1996 international conferences in Vienna and Geneva reviewed the 1983 treaty (an internationally negotiated landmines treaty imposing restrictions on the legal use of landmines in an effort to reduce harm to civilians which has been totally ineffective), but failed to make progress toward a total ban on landmines. Instead, agreement was reached on limited new restrictions, such as requiring parties to keep maps of planted landmines and to use only smart mines built to self-destruct. Yet, the argument was proposed that enforcing such restrictions would be far more difficult in practice than enforcing an unambiguous comprehensive ban.

In October 1996, the Canadian government convened a conference in Ottawa bringing together 50 full participant countries and 24 observers to plan for adoption of a total ban by the end of 1997. The International Campaign, now consisting of more than 650 nongovernmental organizations in more than three-dozen countries, is working to gain the support of as many governments as possible for a comprehensive ban. Unfortunately, the countries needing this ban the most are the ones who can't afford to disarm the mines already in place-each mine costs between $300 and $1000 to remove, and many countries are still burying mines-which only cost $3-$30 to arm-thirty-eight countries make anti-personnel mines. Leading the list are China, Russia and the United States. To a lesser extent: France, Britain, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, South Africa, India, Chile and Pakistan (statistics courtesy of the International Red Cross). At the current disarming pace, as quoted to Human Rights Watch, it would take $33 billion and 11 centuries to clear the active mines scattered in 64 countries around the world.

According to the US State Department's 1993 study, Africa is the most mined region in the world, with 18 million to 30 million mines laid in 18 countries. Of the 17 countries around the world most severely affected by landmines, seven are in Africa.

By far the most seriously affected country is Angola, with estimates ranging from 9 million to as high as 20 million mines. Next is Mozambique, with more than a million, followed by four countries in the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan) with half a million to a million each. Every country in Southern Africa, with the exception of Lesotho and Mauritius, has had people killed or injured by landmines. The Great Lakes region, previously not significantly affected, now has more than 250,000 mines in Rwanda, and there are fears that the ongoing conflict in the region may lead to much wider use of landmines. Other areas with significant numbers of mines include the Western Sahara and Liberia. An estimated 70,000 Angolans have become amputees as a result of landmines, including both civilian and military victims. In Mozambique the National Mine Clearance Commission estimates that at least 40 people are killed by landmines each month.

South Africa, with an existing landmine production capacity, announced in October 1996 that it supported a global landmine ban and would ban export of mines. Although veterans groups across the political spectrum in South Africa have called for a ban on production and stockpiling as well, the South African Defense Force initially proved reluctant to take this additional step. South Africa has an estimated stockpile of about 300,000 anti-personnel landmines. In February 1997, South Africa announced a total ban, including plans to eliminate its existing stockpile.

Not all nations stand in agreement on the proposed bans, however: nations such as South Korea, whose welfare (they claim) is dependant upon the continuing existence of a "buffer zone" to keep the North Koreans out of their territory. Other countries claim landmines to be a vital part of their respective militaries.

Previous UN Actions:

Since the start of the first systematic UN mine clearance operation in Afghanistan in 1989, the UN system has helped devise mine action plans and establish national programs in 13 countries (Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Croatia, Iraq, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mozambique, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Yemen). Landmine assessments and surveys, clearance of mines and unexploded ordnance, rehabilitation of survivors, development of mine awareness and victim-assistance programs, establishment of national institutions for mine action, advocacy and economic and social reconstruction are among the tasks performed by UN system partners.

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