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Five years down the road to a mine-free world

01-03-2004 News Release 04/15

Geneva (ICRC) – Exactly five years have passed since the global ban on anti-personnel mines took effect and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) welcomes the remarkable progress achieved in this period. So far 141 States have joined the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines and all the others have made political commitments to the eventual total elimination of anti-personnel mines.

Parties to the Convention include all but two countries in the Americas and all but one member of the European Union. In Africa – which along with Asia is the most mine-affected continent – all but two sub-Saharan nations are now party to the Convention.

It is also in Africa that a crucial milestone will be celebrated this year. The First Review Conference of the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines – the Nairobi Summit on a Mine Free World – will be held in the Kenyan capital from 29 November to 3 December 2004. This high-level international gathering will take stock of the progress made since the Convention entered into force in 1999 and set the agenda for action in the next five years to ensure that its humanitarian objectives are met.

Over the past five years the ICRC has witnessed the significant improvements the Convention has made in the lives of people and communities the world over. In areas where it is being fully implemented, the number of new victims recorded has dropped by two thirds or more. Parties to the Convention have destroyed 31 million mines within the established deadlines. Yet despite these positive developments, a number of significant challenges still lie ahead. There are only five years to go before the 2009 deadline for clearing the majority of mine-affected areas – a deadline that can only be met if increased technical, material and financial resources are made available. The recent accession of some of the most heavily mine-affected countries, most notably Angola and Afghanistan, will add to the pressure on resources. Greater attention will also need to be paid to the obligation of governments to assist landmine survivors.

In the time that remains before the Nairobi Summit, the ICRC urges all States Parties to reinforce their commitment to this unique treaty by ensuring that plans are in place to meet its deadlines and that the resources needed for its implementation are made available. The ICRC also calls on all States that have not yet adhered to the Convention to do so. The ICRC will join the Kenyan Minister of State for Provincial Administration and National Security at a ceremony being held in Nairobi today to mark the fifth anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention and to encourage world leaders to attend the Nairobi Summit. The ICRC and the Kenyan government will also host a conference in Nairobi on 3 and 4 March during which countries in the region will take stock of the challenges ahead and prepare for the Summit.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Dominique Loye, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 2749