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Aust.-Led Meeting Takes Firm Action on Landmines

Australian-Led Meeting Takes Firm Action against Landmines

An Australian-chaired Mine Ban Convention meeting has taken significant steps toward realising the ultimate goal of ridding the world of the scourge of anti-personnel landmines.

The Seventh Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Convention, which Australia’s Special Representative on Mine Action, Teresa Gambaro addressed at its opening in Geneva last week, concluded its work by reaffirming states’ determination to destroy all known landmines in mined areas before their respective ten-year deadline expires.

The meeting also agreed to an Australian proposal to help mine-affected states make stronger progress toward fulfilling their mine-destruction obligations during any granted extension to their deadline.

Ms Gambaro said the 10-year destruction deadline facing mine-affected states, the first of which will fall due in 2009 was the most immediate challenge facing the Convention.

‘While the priority is to assist States to ensure that the deadlines are met wherever possible, the international community also needs to begin discussions on how to implement extension requests that are permitted under the Convention’, she said.

One state that will not need an extension is the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Ms Gambaro congratulated the FYROM on its successful clearing of mined areas.

‘I am delighted that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has succeeded in clearing all of its known mines, which is one of the primary objectives of the Convention – to stop the indiscriminate suffering caused by anti-personnel mines,’ Ms Gambaro said.

On assuming the presidency, Australia announced an action plan to promote adherence to the Convention by all states, beginning with three nations – Poland, Indonesia and Marshall Islands – that have signed but not ratified the Convention

Australia will also fund a Small States Strategy to encourage nations in the Asia-Pacific region to become part of and implement the Convention.

This leadership is in addition to Australia’s $75 million five-year mine action aid program announced last year that has particular emphasis on survivor assistance, mine risk education, mine clearance and the worldwide implementation of the Mine Ban Convention.

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