Geneva Call conducts seminar on Reporting Landmines and Landmine Incidents

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/01 October) – A seminar on reporting landmines and landmine incidents will be held here Saturday, October 2 at the Waterfront Insular Hotel for Mindanao-based journalists particularly those from areas where landmine incidents have been reported.

The seminar, to be conducted by Chris Rush, Senior Programme Officer of Geneva Call, is a partnership between Geneva Call and MindaNews.

Geneva Call is an international humanitarian organization dedicated to improving the protection of civilians in armed conflicts in areas where guerilla movements, insurgents, partially or non-recognized States, armed Non-State actors — operate or have control.

This is the first time in the Philippines that a seminar on reporting landmines and landmine incidents will be held.

The seminar “aims to provide the participants with an understanding of devices that are termed landmines, how and why they are utilized and what are the standards governing their use.”

In its invitation, the organizers said the Philippines “continues to be beset by a number of insurgencies by armed Non State Actors (NSA’s) in conflict with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and its Armed Forces. In these conflicts, a range of weaponry is utilized, including explosive devices, many of which are described as ‘landmines’.”

“It is often stated in news reports that landmines are banned under international law. While it is true that some categories of such devices are prohibited, it is not yet the case in respect of them all. Yet, even in instances where a device is not banned per se, there are still obligations under international law to take measures to limit the impact on non-combatants,” the invitation said.

At the seminar, participants will be: introduced to the various types of device that are commonly described as landmines; made aware of the standards established under International Law in respect of the different types of device; made aware of the normative framework that applies to the landmine in the Philippines, including the stated positions or policies of the various NSAs as regards these devices; and introduced to the role of Geneva Call in engaging NSAs on the landmine issue.

Geneva Call has learned that “by including armed non-State actors  in dialogue concerning international humanitarian standards, it increases the probability that they will respect them, and thus reduces the suffering of civilians caught up in the conflict.”

In its flyer, Geneva Call said that in recent years, “anti-personnel mines have been used by more armed non-State actors than government forces, and some of these actors have been manufacturing their own mines or mine-like explosive devices.”

“Geneva Call has been advocating to armed non-State actors for a total ban on anti-personnel mines since its creation in 2000. As a result, more than 40 armed non-State actors have agreed to renounce this weapon by signing the Deed of Commitment. They have complied with their pledge, destroying stockpiles and cooperating in humanitarian mine action in areas under their control,” it said.

It is hoped that after attending the Seminar, participants will be better able to report landmines and landmine incidents. (MindaNews)