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Nairobi summit: commitment to end suffering caused by mines

03-12-2004 News Release 04/142

The Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World concluded today with a renewed commitment by the 144 States that have banned anti-personnel mines to persevere in their efforts to eradicate this insidious weapon.

The summit adopted a comprehensive action plan containing 70 commitments on speeding up destruction of mine stockpiles, clearing mined lands within the treaty’s deadlines and ensuring long-term aid for mine survivors. Participants also undertook to ensure that every State in the world joined the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel mines. " The plan is solid, but only action will save lives and restore victims’ dignity, " said Peter Herby, head of the ICRC’s Mines-Arms unit. " This plan must now be used by people who care about mine victims to ensure more and better mine action and better resources in the crucial five years ahead. "

In his statement to the summit on 2 December, ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger characterized the Ottawa Convention as one of the " great success stories of the international community in recent years in the humanitarian field. " At the same time he stressed the need for more to be done to help mine victims, pointing out that most had yet to see a significant improvement in their lives through adequate medical care, physical rehabilitation and socio-economic reintegration. He said that far more action was needed to fulfill the Convention’s promises to mine survivors, and welcomed the States’ commitment to increase efforts in this area.

Mr Kellenberger addressed the summit, together with heads of State, ministers and senior political officials from more than 90 countries. In total, 1,300 representatives of the States party to the Ottawa Convention, observer States, international organizations, United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations attended the summit.

A group of senior military officials from eight countries also met during the summit to review the findings of a study commissioned by the ICRC and carried out by military officers in 1996 on the military use and effectiveness of anti-personnel mines. In their statement to the Nairobi summit they not only reaffirmed the previous conclusion that the appalling consequences of anti-personnel mines far outweighed their limited military value, but also concluded that the eight years of experience since the study had confirmed that anti-personnel mines were obsolete on the modern battlefield and that their use was not justifiable under any circumstances.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Camilla Waszink, ICRC Geneva, tel. + 41 79 217 32 09  

 Ian Piper, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 735 20 63  

 Catherine Bond, ICRC Nairobi, tel. ++254 722 512 728