16/09/2002
Press Release
SG/SM/8384



‘UN REMAINS STRONGLY COMMITTED’ TO ERADICATION


OF LANDMINE THREAT, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS


The following message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Fourth Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, was delivered today in Geneva by Sergio Vieira de Mello, High Commissioner for Human Rights:


It gives me great pleasure to convey my greetings to the Fourth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.  I would like to salute the commitment of all those who have been involved from the beginning for staying absolutely and resolutely focused on the overriding humanitarian goals of eliminating anti-personnel landmines and alleviating the suffering they cause.  I would also like to welcome newcomers to this field who are bringing a new wave of enthusiasm to an already innovative, energetic and constantly evolving practical effort to rid the world of these weapons of terror.


The Convention now has 122 States parties, while three more countries have submitted their ratification instruments.  Under its auspices, millions of mines have been destroyed -- each one potentially saving an innocent life.  In addition, new partnerships have been built and innovative ways of working have been developed.  The United Nations is proud to be a part of this effort.


Despite these achievements, serious challenges lie ahead.  Many countries have not joined the Convention.  Others that have joined will face serious difficulties in meeting their four-year deadline for stockpile destruction or their mine-clearance commitments.  And even if every anti-personnel landmine were cleared from the planet, the need for assistance to victims would remain.


The United Nations remains strongly committed to the eradication of the threat of landmines and unexploded ordnance.  And we will continue doing our part to turn this Convention into a truly universal prohibition on anti-personnel landmines.  I wish you a successful and productive meeting, and look forward to continuing our common struggle against a terrible weapon that has no place in the civilized societies we hope to build for the twenty-first century.


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