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Landmine Monitor is an unprecedented initiative by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) to monitor implementation of and compliance with the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, and more generally to assess the efforts of the international community to resolve the landmines crisis. It is the first time that non-governmental organizations are coming together in a coordinated, systematic and sustained way to monitor a humanitarian law or disarmament treaty, and to regularly document progress and problems.

The main elements of the Landmine Monitor system are a global reporting network, a central data base, and an annual report. Landmine Monitor Report 1999: Toward a Mine-Free World is the first such annual report. This is an Executive Summary of the full 1,100 page report, which contains information on every country of the world with respect to landmine ban policy, use, production, transfer, stockpiling, mine clearance, mine awareness, and survivor assistance. Landmine Monitor Report 1999 also includes appendices with reports from major actors in the mine ban movement, such as key governments, UN agencies and the ICRC.

To prepare this report, Landmine Monitor had over eighty researchers gathering information in more than 100 countries. It is largely based on in-country research, collected by in-country researchers. Landmine Monitor has utilized the ICBL campaigning network, but has also drawn in other elements of civil society to help monitor and report, including journalists, academics and research institutions.

It should be understood that Landmine Monitor is not a technical verification system or a formal inspection regime. It is an effort by civil society to hold governments accountable to the obligations that they have taken on with regard to antipersonnel mines; this is done through extensive collection, analysis and distribution of information that is publicly available.

Landmine Monitor is meant to complement the States Parties reporting required under Article 7 of the Mine Ban Treaty. It was created in the spirit of Article 7 and reflects the shared view that transparency and cooperation are essential elements to the successful elimination of antipersonnel mines. But it is also a recognition that there is a need for independent reporting and evaluation.

Landmine Monitor and its annual report aim to promote and facilitate discussion on mine-related issues, and to seek clarifications, in order to help reach the goal of a mine-free world. Landmine Monitor works in good faith to provide factual information about issues it is monitoring, in order to benefit the international community as a whole. It seeks to be critical but constructive in its analysis.

In June 1998 in Oslo, Norway, the ICBL formally agreed to create Landmine Monitor as an ICBL initiative. A Core Group was established to develop and coordinate the Landmine Monitor system and to produce its first report. The Core Group consists of Human Rights Watch, Handicap International, Kenya Coalition Against Landmines, Mines Action Canada, and Norwegian People’s Aid. Overall responsibility for, and decision-making on, the Landmine Monitor system rests with the Core Group.

The content and work plan for the first annual report were agreed upon at a meeting in September 1998 in Dublin, Ireland. Research grants were awarded in late October, and final country reports were produced by 1 March 1999. Throughout March, a small team at Human Rights Watch edited and assembled the entire report. The report was printed during April and released at the First Meeting of States Parties to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty in Maputo, Mozambique in early May 1999.

The first Landmine Monitor annual report has attempted to establish a baseline of information from which to measure progress in alleviating the landmine crisis. We faced a number of serious challenges in producing the initial report, first and foremost time constraints. We particularly regret that the extremely tight time deadlines did not allow for full synthesis and analysis of the wealth of information gathered. This will be an ongoing task for Landmine Monitor.

Landmine Monitor acknowledges that this ambitious report has its shortcomings. It is to be viewed as a work in progress, a system that will be continuously updated, corrected and improved. We welcome comments, clarifications, and corrections from governments and others, in the spirit of dialogue and in the search for accurate and reliable information on a difficult subject.

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