JOINT STATEMENT

THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND
THE MINISTER FOR DEFENCE


FA 96

15 August 1997

AUSTRALIA TO SIGN BRUSSELS DECLARATION IN FAVOUR OF GLOBAL LANDMINES BAN

The Government has decided that Australia will sign the Brussels Declaration of principles on a global ban on anti-personnel landmines. Australia will also participate in the negotiations for such a treaty, scheduled to take place in Oslo, Norway, from 1 to 19 September. The Oslo conference is the culmination of a series of meetings aimed at concluding a landmines ban treaty for signature by December this year.

The decision to sign the Brussels Declaration and attend the Oslo conference is a further manifestation of the Government’s commitment to the goal of achieving a global landmines ban.

The Australian delegation to the conference will seek to make the current draft treaty text as strong and effective as possible in the brief time available for the negotiations. A decision on whether Australia will sign the final treaty text must of course await the outcome of the Oslo negotiations.

The Government is committed to negotiating an effective global landmines ban treaty with the widest possible adherence, including by the major landmine producers and exporters. At the same time the Government is committed to continuing its active work to build international support for urgent, effective action - mine clearance and rehabilitation of victims - to address the appalling humanitarian crisis brought about by past misuse of anti-personnel landmines.

This twin response to the global landmines crisis brings together Australia’s best traditions in the fields of international arms control and humanitarian assistance.

In April last year, as one of the first acts of Government, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Defence jointly announced that Australia would join the small but growing number of countries supporting a global ban on the production, stockpiling, use and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. At the same time, the Government suspended the operational use of anti-personnel landmines by the Australian Defence Force.

Since that time, Australia has been encouraged by the international momentum which has developed on this issue.

In addition to participating in the Oslo meeting, Australia will continue its efforts in other international bodies, including most importantly through our Disarmament Ambassador’s role as Special Coordinator on landmines in the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, to ensure that the major producers and exporters of landmines are brought into the process of finding a comprehensive and lasting solution to the global landmines problem.

For further information contact Innes Willox: (06) 277 7500, mobile