A world free of mines is becoming an achievable goal
Statement by Mrs Christine Beerli, vice-president of the ICRC. Second Review Conference of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines, Cartagena, Colombia, 30 November – 4 December 2009.
For nearly two decades the suffering and courage of landmine survivors has motivated our work to create and then implement this historic Convention of international humanitarian law. We have much to be encouraged by after this week's review. The stigmatization of anti-personnel mine use established by the 156 States Parties has saved countless lives and limbs by preventing the use of hundreds of thousands of mines and ensuring the destruction of tens of millions of these weapons. Vast areas of previously contaminated land are now feeding some of the poorest communities on earth instead of sowing fear within them. Just 15 years ago such achievements seemed like an impossible dream.
After ten years of implementation, and despite the many real improvements in specific countries or communities, it is still difficult to measure significant progress globally or in many affected countries. In short, despite our efforts, the hopes that most landmine survivors had for this Convention have not yet been fulfilled. This Summit can and must be the turning point at which this reality begins to change.
The Cartagena Action Plan you are adopting here this week contains a roadmap for change in the field of victim assistance. It commits States Parties to provide accessible, affordable and sustainable assistance to victims to ensure their full and effective participation and inclusion in society. The Action Plan and Cartagena Declaration commit us all to do more, to invest more and to achieve more for individual victims, their families and communities in the next five years.
The ICRC welcomes the strong commitments made to victims. Yet the more difficult task of turning words into tangible results remains. In the next five years, our action, or inaction, in this field will determine whether the Convention makes a real difference to the life of surviv ors. The ICRC is committed to supporting States Parties in ensuring that it does, including through our assistance to medical and physical rehabilitation services in affected areas.
The Cartagena Action Plan also contains strong messages about compliance with the Convention’s mine clearance and stockpile destruction requirements. These are among the fundamental obligations of the Convention. Delays in fulfilling them, even while sometimes explicable in practical terms, undermine this Convention’s humanitarian goals and can call into question our collective commitment. We urge all States with clearance responsibilities to fulfill them urgently and within their original or extended deadlines. And we urge States that have not met their stockpile destruction deadlines to complete this obligation without delay.
The success of the Mine Ban Convention has always been measured in the lives of children and families whose lives have not been devastated by mine incidents, in the food harvested from previously mine-infested areas by farmers no longer afraid to plant their crops and in the hope and opportunities reclaimed by landmine survivors. The success of the Cartagena Summit, most notably the commitments adopted in the Cartagena Action Plan, will also be measured in these terms.
Our common challenges in the next five years are great. Overcoming them will require a high level of continued personal commitment from all of us and more resources than have been available to date. It is particularly important for States Parties to maintain their high levels of commitment now that a world free of anti-personnel mines is becoming an achievable goal. The results, for human lives and communities around the world, merit the investment. This is how impossible dreams are realized.