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IX - STUDY OF THE PROBLEM OF THE MATERIAL REMNANTS OF WARS, PARTICULARLY MINES, AND THEIR EFFECT ON THE ENVIRONMENT

437 The Governing Council considered agenda item 12 at the 8th plenary meeting of the session, on 15th May 1978. The Council had before it the report of the Executive Director on the feasibility and desirability of convening an intergovernmental meeting to deal with the environmental problems of the material remnants of wars (UNEP/GC.6/18 and Add.1).

438 ------------in a brief introductory statement, referred to the small number of---------- requesting the view of Governmental meeting. Seventeen Governments, as against 15, did not consider it feasible and desirable. In the light of that inconclusive result, he would suggest that the recommendations contained in paragraph 8 of the report be adopted.

439 A number of representatives recalled the views expressed by their delegations at previous sessions, and some of them reiterated that the matter was not within the competence of UNEP, and should be dealt with on a bilateral basis. One of them recalled that his Government was prevented by the Agreement on German External Debts, signed in London on 27 February 1953, from entering into any obligations in respect of claims related to the material remnants of wars. His Governmental problems created by the information on means of dealing with environmental problems created by the material remnants of wars, in accordance with paragraph 8 of the report.

440 Other delegations considered the matter to be well within the competence of UNEP. One such delegation felt that in view of the inconclusive result of the Executive Director’s consultations, it would not be feasible to convene an intergovernmental meeting, although the question needed to be dealt with in such a forum. The problem was a serious one which could not be settled on a bilateral basis.

441 One representative argued that the preventive aspect of the problem (i.e., the restriction or prohibition of certain uses of military explosives, particularly mines and booby traps, in order to eliminated or at least reduce the risk posed to civilians, and establishment of mine field maps in order to facilitate removal of the mines on the cessation of hostilities) would best be left to the conference o be convened in 1979 with a view to reaching agreements on prohibitions or restrictions on these of specific conventional weapons. 78/ UNEP, however, had an important role to play in assisting in the actual removal of remnants from past wars; while it could hardly be expected to become involved in the actual conduct of removal

General Assembly resolution 32/152 of 19 December 1977, para. 2.

Operations, it should maintain a roster of available national and international expertise in the area. It should also study the need for possibility of training of nationals from developing countries in the technique of mines removal and related activities. UNEP action in that respect should be dealt with under the subject area “Health of people and of the environment”.

442. Delegations generally supported the recommendations contained in paragraph 8 of the Executive Director’s report. One delegation, however, felt the recommendations were not adequate: UNEP should also urge the countries affected by the material remnants of wars, and those responsible for those remnants, to meet in order to solve the problems under UNEP guidance. A report by the Executive Director should be submitted to the Council at every session. UNEP should also study the feasibility of setting up special funds for each clearing operation, after proper assessment of the cost, and those funds should be provided, in appropriate proportions, by the countries which had caused the environmental damage. Two delegations took the view hat an expert group should be established to deal with the question of the environmental aspects of the material remnants of wars under auspices of UNEP in collaboration with other competent United Nations organs.

Action by the Governing Council

443. At the 9th plenary meeting of the sessions on 15 May 1978, the Governing Council noted the report of the Executive Director on his consultations with Governments regarding the feasibility and desirability of convening an intergovernmental meeting to deal with the environmental problems of the material remnants of wars, and requested the Executive Director to follow the course of action proposed in paragraph 8 of his report (decision 6/15). 79/

79/ or the text of the decision, see annex 1 below.