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Ten years on, mine-ban treaty marks progress but still faces major challenges

29-11-2007 News Release 07/122

Geneva (ICRC) – Much progress has been made in the past decade towards eradicating anti-personnel mines worldwide, but the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) views the 10th anniversary of the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines (Ottawa Convention), on 3 December, as a time when States should pause to reflect on the major challenges that remain.

" The Ottawa Convention has in many respects been remarkably successful " , says Philip Spoerri, the ICRC's director for international law. " The treaty today has 156 States Parties. Of the 50 States that at one time produced these mines, 34 are now parties to the Convention. The States bound by it have so far destroyed almost 42 million anti-personnel mines. The list of achievements goes on, and is quite impressive. "

However, much remains to be done, insists Mr Spoerri. " Thirty-nine States have yet to ratify the Convention. And all those that have ratified it need to fulfill the long-term promises they made to landmine victims, including the obligation to clear mines and allocate greater resources to health-care and assistance programmes. "

The ICRC, for its part, assists the victims of landmines and other explosive remnants of war by supporting emergency and long-term care and physical rehabilitation. It also promotes preventive measures such as facilitating safe access to food, water and other vital necessities.

In Afghanistan, for example, the ICRC's orthopaedic programme has benefited nearly 80,000 disabled people over the past two decades, with amputees accounting for about half that number. " Even if starting today there were not a single new mine accident in Afghanistan, " says Mr Spoerri, " we would have work to do here for the next 40 years looking after the tens of thousands of existing mine victims. "

Nine-year-old Mashal Mohamed is one such victim. He lost a leg in a mine accident in Kabul three years ago. His mother, Zia Mohamed, says, " I'm still afraid of landmines, afraid of the same thing happening to someone else in the family. This tragedy will affect our lives forever. "

" Moreover, landmines are only one type of weapon that go on killing after conflicts " , says Mr Spoerri. " The human cost of cluster munitions in particular, which are notoriously inaccurate and unreliable weapons, is an issue of pressing concern that requires urgent international action. "

" On the tenth anniversary of the Convention prohibiting anti-personnel mines it is timely for States to look soberly at the deadly legacy of all weapons that go on killing after conflicts, and to make a genuine commitment towards ending that legacy " , says Mr Spoerri.

For further information, please contact:
  Claudia McGoldrick, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 20 63 or +41 79 217 32 16

** The 10th anniversary of the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel mines is on   3 December 2007.   Click here for ICRC documents, feature articles and audio-visual material.**