chapter  29
34 Pages

The Evolving Arms Control Agenda

The twentieth century ended with the entry into force of the Ottawa Treaty to ban antipersonnel landmines.1 The signing of the treaty was an incredible accomplishment marking, as noted at the time by Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, the “first time, the majority of the nations of the world will agree to ban a weapon which has been in military use by almost every country in the world.”2 However, it also did not have the support of many major powers, which is contrary to most multilateral disarmament agreements.3 Even as late as 1994, there was a consensus among all states that landmines were legal. In March 1995, Belgium became the first state to pass a domestic law providing for a comprehensive landmine ban.4 Less than thirty-two months later, on December 2, 1997, Belgium was joined by 122 states in signing the comprehensive ban convention. Currently 138 states have signed the convention, and 101 have ratified it. The convention entered into force on March 1, 1999, becoming the quickest major international agreement ever to enter into force in history.5 Academics, diplomats, and NGO representatives called the Ottawa Treaty’s genesis and negotiations an innovative model for the future development of international law.6 Even the Nobel committee recognized this unique coalition by awarding the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and its coordinator, Jody Williams, the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, in part for helping create a fresh form of diplomacy.7