New York, 4 April 2007 - Secretary-General's message on the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action
This Day is a reminder that millions of people in nearly 80 countries still live in fear of landmines and explosive remnants of war. These devices continue to claim 15,000 new victims each year. They take an unacceptable toll on lives and limbs. They wreak havoc on people's livelihoods. They block access to land, roads, and basic services.
But this Day is also an occasion to take stock of the progress in our common efforts to combat the scourge of landmines and explosive remnants of war. Thanks to the concerted efforts of all -- Member States, the United Nations, non-Governmental organizations and the mine-affected countries themselves -- we have seen real gains in our mine action efforts.
Since the anti-personnel mine-ban treaty opened for signature 10 years ago, 153 countries have ratified or adhered to it. About 40 million stockpiled anti-personnel landmines have been destroyed. Production, sale and transfer of anti-personnel mines have almost stopped. Large mined areas have been cleared. Victims are receiving more and better assistance, rehabilitation and reintegration. A system has been put into practice for assisting the Parties in fulfilling treaty obligations.
In another important step forward, the 32 States parties to the new Protocol Five to the Certain Conventional Weapons Convention will meet for the first time in November to consider how best to address the devastating humanitarian hazard of explosive remnants of war.
And the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities -- the fastest negotiated international human rights text in history -- opened for signature on 30 March 2007. Its objective is to ensure all human rights for all persons, regardless of their disabilities.
Today, I encourage all States who have not yet done so to accede to all these treaties as soon as possible.
I call upon all States Parties to honour their obligations under the treaties, including the commitment, for those in a position to do so, to render assistance to affected States and victims in need.
And I reiterate my call on the international community to address immediately the horrendous humanitarian effects of cluster munitions. These indiscriminately kill and maim civilians, just as easily and frequently as landmines do. International outrage has driven a large group of countries to pursue a new international treaty to deal with these weapons, thus complementing and reinforcing other on-going efforts. I applaud and encourage all endeavours to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, the impact of cluster munitions on civilians.
There are enormous challenges ahead in the quest for a safer world -- from achieving more effective coordination and mobilization of resources at the international level, to building better capacity at the national and local levels. All of us can do our part to raise awareness of the need to overcome them. On this Day, let us vow to redouble our efforts in that direction.