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Milestone ratification of Ottawa treaty

17-09-1998 News Release 98/34

Geneva (ICRC) - The ratification yesterday of the Ottawa treaty banning anti-personnel landmines by Burkina Faso is a key event in the extraordinary global response to the suffering caused by these deadly weapons. The deposit of this 40th instrument of ratification with the United Nations Secretary-General in New York means that on 1 March 1999 the treaty will become binding international law for almost a third of the 130 States which have signed it.

" It is especially encouraging that mine-affected countries on three continents, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Mozambique, Yemen and Zimbabwe, are among the first 40 countries to ratify " , commented Cornelio Sommaruga, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). " The challenge ahead is actual implementation of the treaty. The setting-up of mine-clearance and mine-awareness programmes and the organization of assistance for victims have only just begun and will require the mobilization of resources at national and international levels for years to come. Real success will be measured in terms of fewer victims, the replanting of fertile farmland, and the resumption of normal life in communities plagued by landmines " , he added.

The adoption of the Ottawa treaty was the first time in history that a weapon in widespread use has been outlawed. Its ratification by 40 States less than a year after it was opened for signature is also a unique achievement.

" The Ottawa treaty is the result of a remarkable process, involvin g the mobilization of public opinion and of a myriad of private organizations, international agencies and governments in response to a humanitarian crisis. It demonstrates that, for once, in the face of atrocious suffering, humanity has been neither powerless nor incapable of achieving results. I congratulate the 40 States which have ratified the treaty for leading the way, and call on other States to sign and ratify it as a matter of urgency, so as to make the treaty universal. " said Mr Sommaruga. 

The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction was concluded in Oslo, Norway, on 18 September 1997, and was opened for signature in Ottawa, Canada, on 3-4 December of the same year.

The 40 States which have ratified and will therefore be legally bound by the provisions of the treaty are: Andorra, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, France, Germany, Grenada, Holy See, Hungary, Ireland, Jamaica, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Niue, Norway, Peru, Samoa, San Marino, South Africa, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, Yemen and Zimbabwe.