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Anti-personnel mine ban treaty enters critical phase

18-09-2006 News Release 06/104

Geneva (ICRC) – The annual meeting of the 151 States party to the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines opened today in Geneva, nine years to the day after governments agreed to comprehensively ban these inhumane and indiscriminate weapons.

Over 700 representatives of governments, international agencies and non-governmental organizations are attending the meeting, which will assess achievements in clearing mined lands and bringing assistance to mine victims.

Although progress is being recorded in these areas, " the Convention is entering a critical phase, " said Philip Spoerri, director for international law at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), in his opening statement to the meeting. " The clock is ticking, " he warned. " In just two and a half years, the first of the Convention's deadlines for clearance of anti-personnel mines will have passed. "  If mine-affected countries are to meet their deadlines, " better planning, renewed political commitment and more resources will be required. "

The Convention also contains a promise to the hundreds of thousands of mine victims that they will receive the assistance they need to rebuild their lives in dignity. Yet this vital promise has been all too often neglected, with too little investment in medical care, rehabilitation and socio-economic reintegration in mine-affected communities. " States must work together to develop and support local health and rehabilitation services and improve access to such services by disabled persons and others in need, " said Alberto Cairo, head of the ICRC's physical rehabilitation projects in Afghanistan, who is also attending the meeting.

When it was adopted in Oslo on 18 September 1997, the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines made history by being the first treaty to ban a weapon that was already in widespread use and to require th at care and assistance be given to the weapon's victims.

Read also the Statement by Philip Spoerri, Director of International Law and Cooperation within the Movement.  
  For further information, please contact:
  Kathleen Lawand, ICRC, tel: +41 (0)76 581 21 17
  Peter Herby, tel: +41 (0)79 771 24 01
  Ian Piper, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 217 32 16