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 Press release - Crucial international meeting on anti-personnel landmines (ICRC)

 Press release date: 18.09.2003

Azeri version

Crucial international meeting on anti-personnel landmines

Geneva (ICRC) - Six years ago, the adoption of the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines brought tremendous hope to mine-affected communities around the world. The Convention held out the promise of a safer life, free of the fear of death or mutilation by hidden mines infesting fields, pastures, footpaths and playgrounds.

From 15 to 19 September 2003, the Fifth Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction (the Ottawa Convention) will convene in Bangkok, Thailand. The ICRC will join States Parties, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, international organizations and UN agencies in taking stock of the progress made towards the goal of eliminating anti-personnel landmines, and of the challenges ahead.

This meeting takes place at a critical moment. With the Convention's First Review Conference scheduled to take place at the end of 2004, it should inspire governments to arrive at next year's Conference prepared to renew their commitment to the goals of the Ottawa Convention and to its full implementation in the years to come.

Much has been achieved since the Convention was adopted in December 1997. A total of 136 States have ratified or acceded to the Convention - the most recent being Belarus on 3 September. States have destroyed over 30 million stockpiled anti-personnel mines. Mine clearance activities are ongoing in the majority of mine-affected countries in the world. Most importantly, wherever the Convention's rules are being upheld, lives and livelihoods are being saved - the annual number of mine victims has fallen by as much as two thirds in countries like Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, and Croatia.

While the considerable gains made are worth celebrating, they provide little comfort to the tens of thousands of civilians still living with the threat of landmines. In the coming years, States have the opportunity to prove that they are willing and able to rid the world of mines. Increased efforts and resources will be required to achieve the core humanitarian goals of the Convention, and to meet the upcoming deadlines of destroying most stockpiled anti-personnel mines by 2004 and clearing the majority of mine-affected areas by 2009. The ICRC therefore expects the Bangkok meeting to encourage all States Parties to state clearly their plans and commitments by the time of the 2004 Review Conference.

The work in Bangkok and at the forthcoming Review Conference may well determine whether the Convention will fulfil its promise to mine-affected communities.

Further information: Camilla Waszink, ICRC Geneva, tel. ++41 22 730 26 42

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