Efforts to rid world of landmines must go on, Ban says on anniversary of landmark treaty

Efforts to rid world of landmines must go on, Ban says on anniversary of landmark treaty

Landmine clearning
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has commended the tireless efforts undertaken over the past decade to rid the world of anti-personnel landmines, while stressing that much work remains to eliminate this global scourge.

A statement issued by Mr. Ban's spokesperson on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (1 March), notes that the treaty's achievements are “quantifiable and many.”

Last year over 200,000 landmines were cleared around the world, according to the UN Mine Action Team.

In Afghanistan, over 81,000 anti-personnel mines were removed during 2008 by over 8,000 national staff. Meanwhile, to date in Sudan, collective efforts have opened over 29,000 kilometres of road thereby increasing freedom of movement, reclaiming productive land and reviving trade.

“However, there are still formidable challenges: landmines continue to kill and injure every year, they hinder social and economic development, and represent a serious obstacle for humanitarian operations throughout the world,” the statement says.

Since the Convention's inception, 156 countries have become States Parties to the treaty, thereby committing themselves to prevent future suffering from anti-personnel mines, and also to resolve the existing landmine problem.

Mr. Ban strongly urges all States that have not yet done so to accede, as soon as possible, to the treaty, also known as the Ottawa Convention.

“This Convention exists because people and Governments across the globe agreed that anti-personnel landmines have no place in our world,” according to the statement. “On this anniversary, let us recommit ourselves to the task of eliminating anti-personnel landmines, assisting survivors and building a more prosperous and peaceful world.”

The Secretary-General also commended the dedicated efforts that States Parties to the treaty and mine action practitioners are pursuing to achieve the goal of a world free of anti-personnel landmines, including the tireless work of the UN, regional organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Altogether, more than 50 countries have received various UN support in mine action. Coordinating this vital assistance for more than a decade has been the UN Mine Action Team, comprising 14 UN departments, programmes, funds and agencies.