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Multi-lateral cooperation delivers for disarmament

New Zealand Campaign Against Landmines (CALM)

23 November 2005

Multi-lateral cooperation delivers for disarmament

Landmine Monitor 2005, the annual report on progress towards a mine free world, shows significant progress is being made to rid the world of these indiscriminate weapons.

The report will be released in Wellington on Friday 25 November at 12.30pm, in the Civic Square. The public will have an opportunity to cross a mock-minefield and experience the terror caused by the weapons. “This year’s report demonstrates that multi-lateral cooperation can deliver significant results on disarmament issues. Global use of antipersonnel mines and the number of reported mine casualties have fallen.

International funding for mine action increased to US$399 million in 2004, and in the past year 135 square kilometers of mine-affected land were cleared. Afghanistan reported clearance of the largest amount of mined land, followed by Cambodia,” said CALM Convenor, Deborah Morris-Travers.

“Given the scale of the humanitarian crisis caused by mines, it’s vital that this good work continues. Governments must continue working in partnership and ensure their political commitments are supported by funding and action,” she said.

At least 84 countries are affected by landmines and/or unexploded ordnance such as cluster munitions. It is estimated that over 200,000 square kilometers of land are contaminated. Among the worst affected nations are Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Iran, Iraq, Bosnie and Herzgovina. The number of landmine survivors requiring ongoing assistance continues to increase. An estimated 300,000-400,000 people live with landmine injuries.

When the Ottawa Convention was signed in 1997, there were 51 countries producing mines. In 2005, just 13 countries produce, or retain the right to produce, mines. 2004/05 has also seen progress on the destruction of stockpiles of mines. Some 400,000 mines were destroyed in the past year and seventy-one states have completed the destruction of their stocks. States Parties have destroyed a total of 38.3 million mines, while non-signatories retain an estimated 160 million stockpiled anti-personnel landmines.

In the past year, progress towards universalisation of the Ottawa Convention has continued, with four more states committing themselves to the prohibition on the use, production, stockpiling and trade of the weapons. These were Ethiopia, Bhutan, Latvia and Vanuatu, bringing the number of full states parties to 147. However, some large and significant states remain outside the Convention, including the USA, Russia and China.

Ms Morris-Travers said, “It is concerning to see that three governments persist in their use of anti-personnel landmines: Myanmar, Nepal and Russia. In addition to these governments, non-state actors in thirteen countries have also laid mines in the past year. These activities put innocent civilians at risk of serious injury or death, and the presence of mines often leaves their land unproductive preventing economic development.

“Landmine Monitor 2005 confirms that the Ottawa Convention, and the political will that brought this treaty to life in the last 1990s, are delivering significant results. “We urge the New Zealand government and other like-minded states to ensure this progress continues and that deadlines for mine clearance, mandated by the Convention, are met. This is essential to the integrity of the Ottawa process,” concluded Ms Morris-Travers.

Today, the full Landmine Monitor report will be made available online at www.icbl.org/lm/2005 This year’s Landmine Monitor is the seventh annual report produced by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).

ENDS


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