Monday, December 3, 2007

Ten years on, mine-ban treaty marks progress but still faces major challenges

Press release
30th Nov. 2007
Geneva (ICRC) – Much progress has been made in the past decade towards eradicating anti-personnel mines worldwide, but the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) views the 10th anniversary of the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines (Ottawa Convention), on 3 December, as a time when States should pause to reflect on the major challenges that remain.
Palau became the latest Pacific state to sign the Ottawa Convention on November 18 this year joining Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands,Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
The recent Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Kampala, Uganda also urged its members to accede to the Convention and implement their respective obligations.
"The Ottawa Convention has in many respects been remarkably successful", says Philip Spoerri, the ICRC's director for international law. "The treaty today has 156 States Parties. Of the 50 States that at one time produced these mines, 34 are now parties to the Convention. The States bound by it have so far destroyed almost 42 million anti-personnel mines. The list of achievements goes on, and is quite impressive.
"However, much remains to be done. "Thirty-nine States have yet to ratify the Convention. And all those that have ratified it need to fulfil thelong-term promises they made to landmine victims, including the obligationto clear mines and allocate greater resources to health-care and assistance programmes. "
The ICRC, for its part, assists the victims of landmines and other explosive remnants of war by supporting emergency and long-term care and physical rehabilitation. It also promotes preventive measures such asfacilitating safe access to food, water and other vital necessities.
In Afghanistan, for example, the ICRC's orthopaedic programme has benefited nearly 80,000 disabled people over the past two decades, with amputees accounting for about half that number. "Even if starting today there werenot a single new mine accident in Afghanistan. We would have work to do here for the next 40 years looking after the tens of thousands of existingmine victims."
Three Fiji soldiers serving with the United Nations in Lebanon were also injured when a landmine exploded under their armoured vehicle in September,1999.
"Moreover, landmines are only one type of weapon that go on killing after conflicts. The human cost of cluster munitions in particular, which are notoriously inaccurate and unreliable weapons, is an issue of pressing concern that requires urgent international action."
"On the tenth anniversary of the Convention prohibiting anti-personnel mines it is timely for States to look soberly at the deadly legacy of all weapons that go on killing after conflicts, and to make a genuine commitment towards ending that legacy.
For further information, please contact:
Serge Marmy, Communications Coordinator
International Committee of the Red Cross, Suva
6th floor, Pacific House
Ph: 3302156/9921157 Email: com.suv@icrc.org or visit our website: www.icrc.org