Casualty rates down in most mine-affected countries
Representatives from more than 90 States parties and observers to the Mine Ban Convention, as well as participants of non-governmental organizations convened in Managua, Nicaragua from 18 to 21 September for the third annual review of the operation of the Convention. Many participants expressed profound regret over the tragic terrorist attacks against the United States on 11 September: some reflected on the fact that landmines themselves were weapons of terror. The conviction that landmines could be made an “object of the past” pervaded as States parties in the Managua Declaration reiterated their “unwavering commitment” to work towards that goal.
At a time when other multilateral treaties and agreements have been encountering difficulties, the States parties reported several positive trends. They noted that casualty rates had fallen in many of the most mine-affected States and that victim assistance had improved. To dramatize that point, several mine disaster survivors shared information about programmes they had established to provide assistance to their fellow victims.
Other noteworthy trends were reported —considerable clearance of APLMs, complete destruction of the APLM stockpiles held by 28 countries; and the destruction process of stockpiles begun by another 19 States.
Because of its successful implementation record, even by States that had not acceded to the agreement, there was general satisfaction among States parties that the Convention represented a new international norm. The Convention then called on all States that continued to use, produce, or acquire anti-personnel mines to cease such activities immediately.
At the same time, it was incumbent on the States parties to have a realistic vision of the intensive work that was still ahead. There were expressions of continued deep concern that mines still kill, maim and threaten the lives of countless individuals, that their presence prevents people from reclaiming their lives and denies communities the opportunity of post-conflict peacebuilding.
To address those concerns, delegates to the Conference approved a practical programme of action, and welcomed the establishment of an implementation unit for the Convention within the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining.
Other matters under discussion were compliance and verification procedures, international assistance and cooperation, and reporting obligations of the States Parties. The question of whether highly sensitive anti-vehicle mines fell under the Convention’s ban was also considered.
The third annual meeting agreed that the Fourth Meeting of States Parties on the Mine Ban Convention should be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 16 to 20 September 2002.
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