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Tuesday, December 2, 1997 Published at 08:13 GMT


What is Britain's landmine policy?
image: [ The British ban on landmines was jump-started by Princess Diana's campaigning ]
The British ban on landmines was jump-started by Princess Diana's campaigning

  • Britain has not manufactured or exported landmines since the 1980s. British forces last used mines during the Falklands War in 1982 and in the Gulf War in 1991.

  • The Labour Party's policy in opposition was to seek to "ban the import, export and transfer of all forms of anti-personnel landmines and their component parts, and of mine technology". At the party's conference in September 1996 the word "use" was added to this list.

  • On May 2 1997 a new Labour Government came to power. On May 7, the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, reached an agreement with the German and French foreign ministers to work together for an international ban on anti-personnel landmines.

  • The British Government announced a complete ban on the manufacture, transfer, import and export of anti-personnel landmines on May 21, 1997.

    [ image: Some mines will be kept for
    Some mines will be kept for "exceptional cirucumstances"
    British stockpiles of mines will be destroyed by 2005, or sooner if an international ban is agreed before 2005. Until this time, the Armed Forces will observe a moratorium on their use.

  • Some mines will be kept to use in "exceptional circumstances". These circumstances are widely assumed to mean if Britain goes to war. The Government has made a commitment to report such circumstances to Parliament.

  • The British ban on anti-personnel landmines came shortly after Princess Diana's visit to Angola with the Red Cross in January 1997 where she called for an international ban on landmines. Her death on August 31 served to highlight further the issue of landmines and put pressure on governments to sign up to a ban.

  • In a speech to the Labour Party Conference in October 1997, the International Development Secretary, Clare Short, announced that UK funding for landmine clearance would be doubled to 10 million, and would be used to support and train local people to do their own clearance.

    This increase will be phased-in over the next three years and will support projects in the former Yugoslavia, Angola, Iraq, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Laos, and Eritrea.

  • The Defence Secretary, George Robertson, used his conference speech to announce the establishment of a new Mine Information and Training Centre to look at counter-mine measures within the Ministry of Defence. It will not just serve the military community but will also provide advice and assistance to other UK government departments, non-governmental organisations, aid agencies, academic institutions and UK industry, so that they too can draw upon its expertise

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    Internet Links

    International Campaign to Ban Landmines

    International Committee of the Red Cross - Ottawa Conference

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