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Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement welcomes signing of Ottawa treaty by 121 States

05-12-1997 News Release 97/35

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies enthusiastically welcomed the signing by 121 States in Ottawa, Canada, of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction. The President of the ICRC, Cornelio Sommaruga, declared that he was " absolutely delighted " by the outcome. " We can now be optimistic that, if the momentum is maintained, adherence to the Convention could soon be universal and an end to the scourge of landmines will be in sight. We will do all that we can to make this a reality. "

The Convention will formally enter into force once 40 signatories have ratified it. States party to the treaty will then have four years to destroy existing stockpiles and ten years to clear all anti-personnel mines from the ground. Yet until the treaty is fully implemented, thousands of people will continue to be killed or maimed by these weapons. " We must put the spotlight back on the victims. Ensuring lifelong assistance to mine victims and their communities is going to be a major challenge facing the international community for decades to come " , said Astrid Noklebye Heiberg, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The Ottawa treaty specifically encourages States to provide increased support for mine victims through bodies such as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. A meeting involving the ICRC, the International Federation and interested National Societies will be held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in February 1998 with a view to planning future victim-assistance strategies.

The Ottawa conference also adopted an Agenda for Action for the coming months and years, which includes plans announced by the ICRC to convene international conferences on the coordination of assistance to mine victims and on mine-awareness activities in 1998, and to hold regional seminars in Central and Eastern Europe and East and South Asia to promote adherence to the treaty.