Practice Relating to the Prohibition of Certain Types of Landmines
Austria’s Anti-Personnel Mines Law (1997) provides: “The production, acquisition, sale, procurement, import, export, transit, use and possession of anti-personnel mines as well as of anti-detection mechanisms shall be prohibited.”
In Austria, the public discussion on anti-personnel landmines was started during the Review Conference of the States Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in Vienna, Austria, in September 1995. During the conference, Austria publicly announced its support for an immediate and total ban on anti-personnel mines. It was one of the first countries to do so.
In 1996, the Government of Austria adopted a Federal Law on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines, which entered into force on 1 January 1997. That law prohibits the production, transfer, use and stockpiling of anti-personnel landmines, and today serves as the implementing instrument for the Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Mines. Therefore, at the time of the first Ottawa meeting in October 1996, the Austrian Government was already committed to a total ban on anti-personnel mines. Austria played a crucial role in the “Ottawa Process” and was responsible for drafting the working text for the resulting treaty. It was a member of the core group of countries that took responsibility for developing and promoting the mine ban treaty.
Austria’s Foreign Minister, Wolfgang Schüssel, who took an unequivocal position in favour of a total ban on anti-personnel mines, described the process thus:
Already in 1995 Austria was pursuing a total ban. In summer 1995, we achieved our aim by destroying all our considerable stocks of antipersonnel mines, making Austria possibly the first comparable country to de facto implement a total ban of antipersonnel landmines. In 1996, a campaign organized by the Austrian Red Cross gained the support of 120,000 signatures in favour of a law banning antipersonnel mines. Such a law entered into force at the beginning of this year.
At the First Meeting of the States Parties to the Ottawa Convention in 1999, Austria condemned the laying of new mines in “Kosovo, Angola and some other places”.
At the 27th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1999, Austria (together with the EU) stated that it would “support efforts to improve the humanitarian standards of the Protocol II to the [1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons]”.