|Statement by Ambassador HU Xiaodi, Head of the Chinese Delegation, on Anti-Vehicle Landmine Issue (September 26, 2001,Geneva)
Mr. Friend of Chair,
China understands the humanitarian concern over the indiscriminate injuries on civilians caused by landmines and support proper international efforts to address this issue rationally. It is our belief that, in addressing the landmine issue, a balance should be striken between humanitarian concerns and the legitimate defense needs of sovereign states. As for the proposal by U.S., Danish, and other four countries on drafting an anti-vehicle landmine protocol, the Chinese Delegation has the following views.
I. Legal Problems arising from the U.S.-Danish proposal
Compared to anti-personnel landmines, anti-vehicle landmines cause less humanitarian concerns, while playing a more important role in national defense. As a matter of fact, safeguarding national security itself is the most important embodiment of humanitarianism. The key for addressing the anti-vehicle landmine issue is to strike a balance between the humanitarian concerns and sovereign states' security needs. The amended Landmine Protocol, which was concluded through hard negotiations by the States Parties, already addresses the humanitarian concerns caused by landmines, including anti-vehicle landmines in a comprehensive and balanced manner. It is fair to say that the Protocol plays an irreplaceable role on the landmine issue. If universal adherence to the Protocol could be achieved, the humanitarian concerns arising from anti-vehicle landmines would be resolved.
It should be pointed out that both the proposed anti-vehicle landmine protocol and the existing Landmine Protocol deal with the landmine issue, leading to legal overlapping and confusion for the States Parties. According to Paragraph 3 of Article 6 of the Landmine Protocol, remotely delivered anti-vehicle landmines should "to the extent feasible, be equipped with self-destruction and self-deactivation devices", without setting percentages. However, the U.S.-Danish proposal suggests percentages for self-destruction and self-deactivation of remotely delivered anti-vehicle landmines. In that case, the States Parties may refer to different legal provisions in their future implementation of the protocols, leading to legal clashes. This would not only be detrimental to the implementation of the Convention and its protocols, but also trigger political confrontation among the States Parties.
II. Technical problems concerning the U.S.-Danish proposal
Significant differences exist between anti-vehicle landmines and anti-personnel landmines in terms of structure, operation and military purposes. The technical specification contained in the U.S.-Danish proposal is a copy of those for anti-personnel landmines as provided for in the Landmine Protocol, without due regard to the unique features of anti-vehicle landmines and the nature of humanitarian concerns caused by them.
III. Burden for Developing Countries
First, due to different economic and technical levels, the States Parties rely on anti-vehicle landmines to varying degrees in their national defense. Given the lack of financial and technical resources and relatively backward military equipment, developing countries have very limited choices of weapons for self-defense, and depend to a higher degree on anti-vehicle landmines. In fact, anti-vehicle landmines have become an integral part of many developing countries'national defense strategy. For these countries, further restrictions on the use of anti-vehicle landmines would undermine their security interests. The above mentioned fact should be taken into consideration when discussing the AVL issue.
Second, if transforming the exiting anti-vehicle landmines according to the U.S.-Danish proposal, a heavy burden will certainly be added to the developing countries in financial and technical terms. Some people claim that it will only cost 20 US dollars to transform an anti-vehicle landmine. But in fact, it is far from being so easy and simple. As a category of weapon, landmine is a combating system. Any changes to the landmine itself will affect all sectors of the whole system, including design, manufacturing, equipping, training and operation of landmine and its delivery system. This process will be very costly and time-consuming. In addition, there are many technical problems to be resolved. If most developing countries are prevented from joining the proposed protocol due to financial and technical difficulties, the significance of the protocol will be seriously undercut.
To sum up, the Chinese Delegation believes that due to many legal and technical problems as well as financial burdens, the proposal on drafting an anti-vehicle landmine protocol is unrealistic and cannot receive extensive support from the international community. China does not support the proposal. We maintain that the first priority is to achieve universal and faithful implementation of the existing Landmine Protocol, rather than negotiate a new protocol on landmines.
Thank you, Mr. Friend of Chair.