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close this bookBanning Anti-Personnel Mines - The Ottawa Treaty Explained (International Committee of the Red Cross , 1998, 24 p.)
close this folder2. The Ottawa treaty
close this folder2.5 Ensuring compliance with the treaty
View the document(introduction...)
View the document2.5.1 Reporting on implementation
View the document2.5.2 Settling disputes
View the document2.5.3 Resolving doubts about compliance
View the document2.5.4 National efforts to prevent violations
View the document2.5.5 Reviewing implementation of the treaty
View the document2.5.6 Strengthening and updating the treaty


Regrettably, even formal adherence to a treaty in force is not always enough to guarantee that all of its provisions will be fully respected. For this reason, the Ottawa treaty provides for a number of mechanisms to promote implementation and resolve disputes. These include a requirement for each country to report regularly on action taken to implement the obligations laid down in the treaty: a duty to cooperate in settling disputes; legal, administrative and other measures to be taken nationally to prevent violations; and regular meetings to review the effectiveness of the treaty and its implementation (see Arts 7 to 13).

2.5.1 Reporting on implementation

In order to promote openness and confidence that the treaty is being implemented, each country adhering to it’ must provide the UN Secretary-General with an annual report concerning the action it has taken to comply with its provisions (see Art. 7). This report must include the following information:

· the total number and the types of anti-personnel mines it has stockpiled;

· the progress of its mine-destruction programmes, including the total number and the types of mines destroyed;

· the total number and the types of mines kept for training purposes;

· the technical characteristics of each type of mine it has produced in the past;

· the location of all mined areas under its jurisdiction or control; information on the type, quantity and age of the mines laid there (to the extent known); and the measures taken to warn the civilian population;

· the national measures, such as legislation or administrative regulations, taken to prevent and suppress violations of the treaty.

The first report must be submitted as soon as practicable, but no later than 180 days after the date on which a country becomes a State Party- to the treaty.

2.5.2 Settling disputes

Furthermore, countries are encouraged to consult and cooperate with each other in order to settle any disputes which may arise (see Art. 10, para. 1). In addition to issues of compliance, any disputes concerning the application or interpretation of the treaty may also be brought before the meeting of States Parties. A country participating in the meeting can offer its services to mediate or States Parties may recommend ways to resolve the disagreement (see Art. 10, para. 2).

2.5.3 Resolving doubts about compliance

Another mechanism established by the Ottawa treaty to promote confidence in its implementation is an enquiry process to be used in the event that a State Party is suspected by another State Party of having failed to respect the provisions of the treaty (see Art. 8). The process begins with a “request for clarification”, which is passed on to the country under suspicion through the UN Secretary-General. Once the request has been received, that country has 28 days within which to respond to the allegation (see Art. 8, para. 2).

If no response is received within that time period, or if the response is deemed unsatisfactory, the issue may be presented to the next meeting of States Parties. If, however, the issue is considered urgent, a “special meeting of States Parties” may be convened to consider the matter (see Art. 8, paras 3 and 5). In both instances, the countries attending the meeting will examine the information submitted and decide by a majority vote if further action is necessary (see Art. 8, para. 6).

If additional information is required, a fact-finding mission may be sent to the country (see Art. 8, para. 8). The fact-finding team will consist of up to nine experts whose task is to collect information directly related to the allegation. Its members are appointed by the UN Secretary-General and drawn from a pool of previously submitted names. The country that is the object of the inquiry is consulted on the selection of the experts. The nationals of the country requesting the fact-finding mission or any country directly affected by it cannot participate in the mission (see Art. 8, paras 9 and 10).

The country under examination is obliged to accommodate the fact-finding mission and ensure that it is given the opportunity to speak with all persons and visit all areas relevant to the inquiry (see Art. 8, paras 11 to 14). Such access, however, may be subject to arrangements made by the country to protect its national security, the safety of fact-finding personnel, and the proprietary and constitutional rights of its citizens. Unless otherwise agreed, the fact-finding mission will not remain in the country for more than 14 days nor stay at any particular site for more than seven days (see Art. 8, para. 15).

The fact-finding mission reports the information it has gathered to the UN Secretary-General who will forward it to the meeting, or special meeting of States Parties (see Art. 8. para. 17). After reviewing the report, countries may suggest ways to resolve the issues. In extreme cases this could include referring the matter to the UN Security Council or adopting other enforcement measures provided for by the UN Charter. Any decision taken at this stage is made by consensus or, if that is not possible, by a two-thirds majority of the countries present and voting (see Art. 8, para. 20).

2.5.4 National efforts to prevent violations

A State Party must do all it can to prevent and put an end to violations of the treaty- on territory over which it has jurisdiction or control, or by persons over whom it has jurisdiction or control (i.e. not only its own citizens but also those of other countries present on its territory) (see Art. 9). It is also required to adopt national laws or enact other administrative or regulatory measures to prevent and punish prohibited activities. Such action should, where appropriate, include criminal penalties for violation.

2.5.5 Reviewing implementation of the treaty

The treaty also provides for a series of regular meetings of States Parties that will enable the countries concerned to discuss its implementation. There are four types of meetings referred to in the treaty: meetings of the States Parties (see Art. 11), special meetings of the States Parties (see Art. 8), review conferences (see Art. 12) and amendment conferences (see Art. 13). In summary, the meeting of States Parties is convened to review the status of the treaty’s application and implementation. Such a meeting will be held annually for, at least, the first four years after the treaty enters into force. There, countries can raise issues concerning implementation of the treaty and try to resolve any disputes on its interpretation. As outlined above in the section on “Resolving doubts about compliance”, the special meeting of States Parties is an extraordinary measure to examine a specific concern about possible non-compliance. Five years after the treaty’s entry into force, probably around the year 2004, a full review conference will be held. In addition to providing a forum to discuss treaty implementation, it may also determine how often meetings of States Parties will be held in the future. Further review conferences may be convened at the request of any State Party at intervals of, at a minimum, five years (see Art. 12, para. 1).

2.5.6 Strengthening and updating the treaty

Although the Ottawa treaty is a very strong legal instrument, certain refinements may in future need to be made. To ensure that the treaty can be adapted to address a changing world situation and evolving technologies, there is a specific provision for its amendment at any time after it enters into force (see Art. 13). Proposals for amendments may be submitted by any State Party. They must be sent to the UN Secretary-General, who will circulate them to all the States Parties. These countries must, within 30 days, indicate if they support discussing the proposals further. If a majority of countries respond favourably, the Secretary-General will convene an Amendment Conference to which all States Parties will be invited.

At the amendment conference, the proposed amendments will be discussed and voted upon, and then adopted if approved by at least two-thirds of the States Parties present and voting. However, support for the proposals at the conference is not enough for them to become binding on the States Parties. Following the conference, countries must inform the UN Secretary-General that they agree to be bound by the amendments, which only come into effect once a majority of State Parties have made this notification and then only for those States (see Art. 13, para. 5). Once in force, the amendments do not apply to any country that has not ratified them. Nonetheless, these States will remain bound by the original text.