A Mine-Free World: Mission Possible

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Amelie Chayer, ICBL; email: mediaSPAMFLTER@SPATMFLTERicbl.org, tel.: +33 (0)6 89 55 12 81

A Mine-Free World: Mission Possible

WASHINGTON - Ten years after the historic treaty banning
antipersonnel mines became binding international law, campaigners in
some 60 countries around the globe are taking action this week to once
again draw the world's attention to the horrific consequences of
landmines and to call for renewed efforts toward a mine-free world.

"The Mine Ban Treaty has made a major difference on the ground in
dozens of mine-affected countries, but despite the successes to date,
too many people's lives remain impacted by uncleared minefields, too
many mine survivors are denied decent living conditions, and too many
mines are still stockpiled," said Sylvie Brigot, Executive Director of
the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).

"We always knew that pursuing a mine-free world would be a long-term
mission, but it can be done. States Parties need to recommit themselves
to doing everything in their power to end the suffering caused by these
weapons. This is ‘mission possible'."

To date, 156 states have joined the treaty and, as reported by the
ICBL's Landmine Monitor the stigma attached to the use of antipersonnel
mines means that only two governments - Burma (Myanmar) and Russia -
and a handful of non-state armed groups employed these weapons in the
past few years. Some 42 million antipersonnel mines have been destroyed
from stockpiles since 1997; only 13 of the more than 50 countries that
manufactured antipersonnel mines in the early ‘90s still have a
production capacity; trade in antipersonnel mines has virtually
stopped; and large tracts of land have been cleared and returned to
productive use.

However, despite the goodwill and continued partnership between
governments and civil society, the task of ensuring full compliance by
Mine Ban Treaty members is an ongoing challenge. Belarus, Greece, and
Turkey failed to meet their four-year stockpile destruction deadline on
1 March 2008, although they have since indicated that they are
committed to destroying their stockpiled antipersonnel mines as soon as
possible. Some states have been unacceptably slow in fulfilling their
mine clearance obligations, potentially putting thousands of civilian
lives at risk. Fifteen States Parties, including Bosnia and
Herzegovina, Mozambique, Nicaragua, the UK and Yemen, had to ask last
year for an extension of their ten-year deadline for clearance of
mine-affected areas. Programs to address the lifelong needs of mine
survivors - estimated at almost half a million people worldwide - are
still grossly inadequate in the vast majority of affected countries.

Thirty-nine countries - two of which originally signed the treaty
but have not ratified it - have not yet formally joined the treaty and
thus remain at odds with the widespread international rejection of the
weapon.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

"Over the past decade we have seen elements of the new diplomacy
that created the Mine Ban Treaty applied to tackle other issues,
particularly cluster munitions," said Brigot. "We strongly support the
new Convention on Cluster Munitions. However, as with the Mine Ban
Treaty, the real value of this agreement will be the difference it
makes in the lives of people affected on a daily basis by these
weapons, and how it will avoid new victims."

The ICBL - a worldwide network of some 1,000 civil society
organizations, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 - is marking the
10th anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty's entry into force with events
and activities in more than 60 countries (see list below). This
includes tree-planting in formerly mine-affected areas in Georgia, a
creative campaign to mark dog waste in Spain with "danger: mines"
warning signs, a march in the streets of the mine-affected Casamance
region of Senegal, an art installation on the border between Greece and
Turkey, the DVD launch of the landmines documentary film Disarm,and dozens of media events and roundtables with decision-makers.

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The International Campaign to Ban Landmines is committed to an international ban on the use, production, stockpiling, and sale, transfer, or export of antipersonnel landmines.  

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