The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL): Mine Band Treaty, Real Protection For The Poor and Vulnerable

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OCTOBER 23, 2007
1:36 PM

CONTACT: The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL)
Tel.:+41 (0)22 920 03 25
E-mail: icbl@icbl.org

 
Mine Band Treaty, Real Protection For The Poor and Vulnerable
 

GENEVA - October 23 - The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) today refuted a recent statement by Libyan leader Muhammar Gaddafi attacking the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and defending the use of landmines as a legitimate means of protection for “weak” countries.

“At a time when Libya is taking up its seat at the UN Security Council and looking for a role of increased regional leadership, criticising a treaty which has clearly succeeded in stemming the humanitarian crisis caused by antipersonnel mines sets a deplorable example,” said Ayman Sorour of the ICBL Management Committee.

“Continuing to hang on to unrealistic reasons not to join the Mine Ban Treaty and calling on states to withdraw from it is in clear contrast with the treaty’s humanitarian goals and achievements. The treaty is a success that we need to build on – not destroy – for the sake of humankind,” Sorour added.

“Ten years after its signature, the Mine Ban Treaty has proven to be an effective tool to save lives and limbs and to protect future generations from the indiscriminate effects of antipersonnel mines,” said Sylvie Brigot, ICBL Executive Director, adding that the treaty has led to the destruction of millions of stockpiled mines, the clearance of vast tracts of land, the cessation of exports, and the provision of assistance to survivors.

“The use of antipersonnel mines is now stigmatized – only Myanmar, Nepal and Russia used them last year causing despair among civilians of these countries, who risk falling victims to these indiscriminate killers. Is this protection of the poor and vulnerable?” Brigot asked, calling on all countries to join the treaty and put concern for the lives and well-being of their citizens before obsolete and often preposterous military considerations.

“Addressing the problems of past landmine use through clearance and victim assistance is crucial but it will be fruitless unless there is also a total ban on these deadly devices,” she concluded.

With 155 states – more than 70% of them from the south of the world – having joined the treaty and the rest largely abiding by its provisions, the consensus that the use of antipersonnel mines is unacceptable, is all but global. One of the three remaining users, Nepal, recently gave up the use of landmines after a ceasefire with Maoist armed groups.

The growing number of countries forsaking the use and production of antipersonnel mines reflects the understanding that their long lasting, far reaching humanitarian cost outweighs any short-term military utility.

The two latest states to join the Mine Ban Treaty were Kuwait and Iraq, showing progress in a region – the Middle East – which has traditionally had the lowest rates of adherence to the treaty.

The Middle East will be the focus of increased international activity and attention as Jordan will host the Eighth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty from 18 to 22 November this year.

Background

The Mine Ban Treaty was signed in Ottawa, Canada, by 122 countries on 3-4 December 1997. It entered into force on 1 March 1999.

Libya is one of only 40 countries remaining outside of the treaty. Libyan officials have often stated that the country cannot accede to the Mine Ban Treaty because it does not commit states that laid mines in other countries “to remove their landmines, compensate for the damages, or provide the necessary technical and financial assistance,” and it “does not take into consideration the security concerns of developing nations like the Great Jamahiriya, which has a vast geographical area, and yet does not have alternative means to tackle the security failure caused by the absence of anti-personnel landmines.” In 2005 Seif Al-Islam Al-Gaddafi, President of the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charitable Associations, and son of Libya’s President made a personal call for Libya to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty. (source: Landmine Monitor Report)

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