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Nicaragua: Third meeting of States party to the Ottawa treaty

13-09-2001 News Release 01/36

The government of Nicaragua will host the third Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction (the Ottawa Treaty) in Managua from 18 to 21 September. The ICRC will be on hand to contribute to the planning for the full and effective implementation of the treaty's provisions for victim assistance, stockpile destruction, mine clearance and mine-awareness efforts.

On 10 September Chile became the latest State to ratify the treaty, bringing the number of States Parties to 120. A further 21 States have signed but not yet ratified the agreement. Twenty-nine States Parties have already destroyed their stockpiles of anti-personnel mines, and destruction is under way in 19 more. Twenty-seven States have adopted legislation to criminalize violations of the Convention, and others are in the process of doing so.  Funding for mine action has increased.

The ICRC has expanded its activities in the areas of victim assistance and mine and unexploded ordnance awareness over the past year, largely on the basis of resources mobilized through this treaty. The organization is now conducting or supporting awareness programmes in 12 countries, including seven that have been established in the past two years. In 2000, for the fourth consecutive year, the ICRC expanded its physical rehabilitation programmes; it supported new projects in Uganda, Myanmar and Ethiopia and provided significantly greater numbers of prostheses and orthoses. Between 1996 and 2000 the number of patients receiving orthopaedic appliances more than doubled, from approximately 13,000 to around 28,000 per year.

In places where the Convention's comprehensive programme of banning the use of anti-personnel mines, clearing areas already contaminated and raising awareness of the dangers of mines is being implemented, the ICRC has noted a dramatic reduction in annual numbers of victims. " This simple fact confirms that the prescriptions contained in this treaty for curing the global epidemic of landmine injuries are correct and effective " stated Peter Herby, head of the ICRC delegation to the Managua meeting.

The host country Nicaragua has not only known the scourge of landmines but has also had the bitter experience of suffering a severe setback to its mine-clearance efforts when Hurricane Mitch struck in October 1998. While clearance operations continue, Nicaragua is also in the process of completing the destruction of its stockpiles of anti-personnel mines. In 1996 the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Central America undertook to make their region free of anti-personnel landmines — a commitment that the Managua meeting is expected to reinforce.