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Process in Landmine Elimination Welcomed

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2-Dec-2002 Press Release 02/73

Anti-personnel landmines: going, going but not quite gone!

Five years ago, one hundred twenty-one States signed a Convention in Ottawa which the ICRC claimed at the time marked the "beginning of the end of anti-personnel landmines", a weapon that was identified as the cause of immense and irreversible human suffering throughout the world.

Five years later, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) salutes the tremendous steps taken towards the final elimination of this weapon. Today, 130 states have ratified or acceded to the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines, or Ottawa Treaty as it is more commonly known, and public support for the ban remains undiminished. Most importantly, the Treaty has had a real effect in reducing landmine injuries.

The annual number of victims has fallen dramatically – by over 65 % in places such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, and Croatia where the Convention's stipulations programming anti-personnel landmine non-use, clearance and awareness requirements are being implemented. Parties to the Ottawa Treaty have reportedly destroyed 27 million of these mines. The accession to the Treaty, announced earlier this year, by Afghanistan and Angola, two of the world's most mine-affected countries, is particularly welcome.

The ICRC contributes to global mine action by promoting universal adherence to and full implementation of the Ottawa Treaty; conducting mine awareness programmes; and providing medical care and rehabilitation services to mine victims who are mainly civilians. Landmine injuries are indeed among the most horrific injuries surgeons have to deal with. But, the situation has changed dramatically since the day when, back in 1994, the ICRC added its voice to calls for a complete ban on these inhumane weapons. At that time, these anti-personnel landmines were almost universally considered to be militarily indispensable and were widely used. Now, however, the prohibition of antipersonnel landmines is a widely accepted norm. This is good news.

Yet all is not done. Men, women and children are still being hurt by these devices and the momentum of Ottawa cannot stop until the scourge of anti-personnel landmines is completely eradicated.. Efforts must continue to ensure that the Ottawa Treaty gains complete universal adherence. In addition, State Parties currently face two key deadlines: from March 2003 the destruction of all stockpiled antipersonnel mines must be completed for most States and 2009 when deadlines for the clearance of mined areas on their territory begin to fall due.

In the time remaining prior to the Convention's First Review Conference (in 2004), the ICRC encourages all States Parties to re-commit themselves to this humanitarian endeavour and to ensure that the resources needed for its implementation are made available. The ICRC calls on all States not yet Parties to join the Convention as a matter of urgency.

Further information:

Camilla Waszink 00 22 734 2642

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