29/11/2002
Press Release
SG/SM/8532



SECRETARY-GENERAL, IN MESSAGE FOR FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF OTTAWA CONVENTION,


LOOKS TO TOTAL ELIMINATION OF LANDMINES, CONTINUED CARE FOR VICTIMS


This is the text of a message by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the ceremony in Ottawa marking the fifth anniversary of the opening for signature of the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines (delivered on his behalf by Martin Barber, Chief, United Nations Mine Action Service):


It gives me great pleasure to convey my greetings to this ceremony marking the fifth anniversary of the opening for signature of the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines.


The Convention now has 130 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.


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 mine-clearance commitments or their four-year deadline for stockpile destruction.  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 will continue doing its part to turn this Convention into a truly universal prohibition on anti-personnel landmines.  I would like to salute the commitment of all those who have been involved from the beginning for staying resolutely focused on the goals of eliminating anti-personnel landmines and alleviating the suffering they cause.  I would also like to welcome newcomers who are bringing a fresh wave of enthusiasm to this field.  And I look forward to continuing our common struggle against a weapon that has no place in the civilized societies we hope to build for the twenty-first century.


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