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Global summit focuses on landmines

Hon Georgina
te Heuheu
Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control

30 November 2009
Media Statement

Global summit focuses on landmines

Disarmament Minister Georgina te Heuheu leaves today for Cartagena, Colombia to take part in a global summit on landmines.

Participants will review the international Treaty that banned the use of anti-personnel landmines. The National Government played an active role in the negotiation of the Treaty during the 1990s and the Minister said New Zealand has always held a respected reputation in the disarmament area.

“The Mine Ban Treaty has been one of the success stories of international disarmament,” Mrs te Heuheu said.

“Since 1997, 156 countries have ratified the treaty and more than 42 million mines have been destroyed.

“Even though very few countries would today consider the use of anti-personnel landmines, it is still important to continue to push towards universalisation of the Treaty.”

New Zealand ratified the Treaty in July 1999 and has in recent years been active in progressing the issue of assistance to victims of landmines.

Since the 1990s the New Zealand Defence Force has been deployed to clearance efforts in the Lebanon, Afghanistan, Kosovo, Laos and Mozambique.

During the summit, Mrs te Heuheu will sign a high-level political Declaration on behalf of New Zealand.

“The Cartagena Declaration will give a boost to the political impetus required to universalise the Treaty,” said Mrs te Heuheu. “Ministerial support is a crucial factor in generating that momentum.

While in Colombia, the Minister will take advantage of an opportunity to visit a village in a mine-infested area.

“The Mine Ban Treaty recognises the terrible humanitarian impact of landmines and it will be poignant to visit a community still suffering the effects of their historical use,” she said.

Mrs te Heuheu will travel via Mexico, an important partner for New Zealand on nuclear disarmament and cluster munitions issues, to discuss next year’s Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“Mexico and New Zealand work alongside each other as members of the New Agenda Coalition – the pre-eminent grouping of countries committed to nuclear disarmament which also includes Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, South Africa and Sweden.

“As we approach the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty next year, these partnerships will be essential to promote a positive outcome.

“After over 40 years, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty still stands at the heart of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime,” Mrs te Heuheu said.

ENDS

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