NEED FOR IMPROVED EFFORTS TO REMOVE ANTI-PERSONNEL LAND-MINES STRESSED THIS MORNING IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

GA/9185
5 December 1996

NEED FOR IMPROVED EFFORTS TO REMOVE ANTI-PERSONNEL LAND-MINES STRESSED THIS MORNING IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

5 December 1996


Press Release
GA/9185


NEED FOR IMPROVED EFFORTS TO REMOVE ANTI-PERSONNEL LAND-MINES STRESSED THIS MORNING IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY

19961205

Continued Existence of Some 110 Million Unexploded Mines Worldwide Described as "The War That Never Ends"

The need for improved efforts to remove anti-personnel land-mines and for heightened efforts to address the needs of their victims was stressed this morning as the General Assembly began its consideration of assistance in mine clearance. Several speakers cited the continuing impact of mines in their countries long after the conflict in which they were laid had ended.

The continuing existence of some 110 million unexploded mines in more than 70 countries -- with 20 new mines being laid for each one that was removed -- resulted in a problem of massive dimensions, the Assembly was told. Recalling the words of the Secretary-General, the representative of Canada described the situation as "the war that never ends".

More women, children and agricultural workers were killed, wounded and maimed after a cease-fire than during the actual conflict, the representative of Ukraine said. In the Lao People's Democratic Republic, increased funding was needed to help that country clear the mines which contaminated up to half of its territory, its representative told the Assembly.

Citing the need to develop improved demining technology, the representative of Norway said more resources were set aside for producing new weapons including mines, than for alleviating the damage they caused. The representative of New Zealand suggested the possible establishment of a rapid mine-clearance capacity within a standby peace-keeping force.

The representative of the United States described a new initiative to develop an indigenous mine removal capacity in Bosnia and Herzegovina, operating under a United Nations mandate. In addition, the entertainment industry in the United States had joined with the Department of Defense to produce a Superman comic book in three languages, as a new mine-awareness and educational tool for the children of Bosnia.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Ireland (for the European Union and associated States), Colombia, Indonesia, Mozambique, Japan, Libya, Russian Federation, Liechtenstein, Guatemala, Afghanistan, Argentina, Jamaica and Uruguay.

The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. today to continue its consideration of assistance in mine-clearance. It is also expected to act on five draft resolutions on strengthening the coordination of United Nations emergency humanitarian assistance with respect to specific countries or regions.

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Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this morning to consider the issue of assistance in the clearing of mines. It had before it a report on the matter from the Secretary-General (document A/51/540), and a letter from the Permanent Representative of Denmark, which includes the report of the International Conference on Mine Clearance Technology, held at Elsinore, Denmark, 2-4 July 1996 (A/51/472).

The Assembly has had the question of assistance in mine-clearance under review since 1993. The Secretary-General's present report provides information on the activities of bodies within the United Nations system, as well as of other organizations and non-governmental organizations involved in mine-action activities. It covers ongoing mine-action programmes in Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Croatia, Eastern Slavonia, Laos, Mozambique and Yemen. The report also addresses the functioning of the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Clearance and the progress made so far in the establishment of a standby capacity for mine clearance.

In response to the Assembly's request to promote scientific research and development on humanitarian mine-clearance techniques and technology, the Government of Denmark, with the support of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, convened an International Conference on Mine-Clearance Technology in July 1996. The outcome of that Conference is also addressed in the report.

During the past year, the report states, the United Nations has coordinated mine-clearance programmes in a total of nine countries. It is likely that assistance will be requested for Tajikistan, northern Iraq and Georgia in the near future.

In each country, sustainable national mine-clearance capacity is the objective. To that end, programmes are developed in close collaboration with the Governments concerned. Each programme is tailored to local geographic, economic and security conditions, and includes elements of training, mine-clearance, surveying, community awareness, medical treatment and rehabilitation. Each country programme is coordinated by the Department of Humanitarian Affairs, which integrates the specialized knowledge and skills of a number of United Nations agencies, as well as the services of government agencies, and local and international non-governmental organizations.

Within the United Nations system, the following entities are involved in mine-action programmes: Department for Humanitarian Affairs, Department of Peace-keeping Operations (DPKO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

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The Department of Humanitarian Affairs coordinates humanitarian mine-clearance activities by establishing policy guidelines for post-conflict mine-clearance activities; providing managerial oversight to established country programmes; encouraging and facilitating the development of new technology; mobilizing resources for mine-clearance activities, and coordinating advocacy efforts on the mines issue. The Department works closely with government agencies in assisting the elaboration of national priorities and in formulating mine-clearance strategies.

The DPKO is responsible for mine-clearance activities related to peacekeeping missions, the report says. It provides technical support to mine-clearance and surveying operations conducted during peacekeeping missions and advises the Department of Humanitarian Affairs on the provision of equipment to demining operations.

The United Nations mine-action programmes work closely also with non-governmental organizations, the report continues. Non-governmental organizations undertake the training of local personnel in mine-awareness, survey and demining operations. They are often the first organizations operating in a country during the emergency phase. During that phase, non-governmental organizations respond almost exclusively to humanitarian requirements, concentrating on rapid response to the needs for mine-awareness and demining activities in support of the local population, other non-governmental organizations and the United Nations.

The primary objective of United Nations mine-clearance programmes is to develop national capacities capable of managing and executing an integrated mine-clearance programme consisting of mine-clearance, training in mine- clearance, mine awareness, mine survey and mined-area marking. An integrated humanitarian mine-clearance programme is normally implemented through a mine-action centre established by the United Nations in cooperation with the national Government.

Regarding inter-agency coordination, the Secretary-General's report states that during the course of a United Nations mine-clearance operation, programme responsibility passes through as many as three separate United Nations entities. In instances where there is a need for transition from peace-keeping mine-clearance to a humanitarian mine-action programme, the transitional arrangements are carefully planned and managed. Normally, such a transition would involve changing over from an operation financed from a peacekeeping assessed budget to one funded by voluntary contributions. Such arrangements require the approval of the General Assembly.

The report goes on to describe each of the programmes in all nine countries.

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Details on disbursements and contributions to the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Clearance are contained in the report's two annexes. The Fund is the primary mechanism for financing humanitarian mine-related activities and was designed to provide financial resources for quick response to requests for assistance in humanitarian mine-clearance activities.

The report concludes that the magnitude of the international land-mine crisis is summarized by its grim arithmetic: there are an estimated 110 million mines buried in the ground in more than 70 countries. These mines will continue to kill for many decades to come. There are an estimated 25,000 mine-related casualties worldwide each year. Most of these victims are civilians. United Nations sponsored and other coordinated efforts have deployed approximately 6,000 deminers to tackle the crisis. The human effort and the cost of removing mines are an exceptionally serious challenge for the humanitarian community. It is a battle against time, because more mines are being laid every day. Mines are extremely cheap to produce -- often less than $5 each -- yet expensive to neutralize and destroy: finding and blowing up a single one can cost anywhere between $100 and $1,000.

Assuming no new mines were laid, the report states, the removal of all mines currently in the ground could cost anywhere between $50 billion and $100 billion (at current prices), and at the present pace of clearing 100,000 land-mines per year, it would take many decades to overcome the crisis. Despite specific and deliberate efforts to make mine-clearance programmes as indigenous and sustainable as possible, the magnitude and the cost of the task are such that it is well beyond the capability of individual affected countries. A major and sustained international effort will be required to address the global land-mine crisis, in particular its long-term development aspects.

The proliferation and use of land-mines is described as "a deadly and eminently preventable humanitarian disaster". Immediate steps must be taken to stop the production, stockpiling, marketing and use of land-mines, and to convince those countries that allow these activities to stop doing so.

Statements

MICHAEL HOEY (Ireland), speaking on behalf of the European Union, with the support of Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Iceland, said the question of assistance in mine clearance focused attention on the humanitarian dimension of the indiscriminate use of anti-personnel land-mines. Over the past year there had been a significant shift in the way those weapons were perceived by the international community. That shift was concretely expressed in the widespread recognition at this year's General Assembly of the need for an international agreement to ban land-mines. The Union was committed to the goal of a total ban.

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For every mine cleared, 20 more were laid, he said. The scope of the problem was obvious, with some 110 million unexploded land-mines in more than 70 countries. Apparently 2 million more were laid each year, while only 100,000 were cleared. The primary responsibility for demining lay with the parties responsible for laying them. The extent to which the United Nations should be called upon to provide assistance in mine clearance should take into account the capacity of the parties involved to take on that obligation themselves. In addition to the 6.6 million ECU the Union had already contributed to the United Nations Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Clearance, it decided in September to earmark 7 million ECU for demining activities up to the end of 1997.

OLEXANDRE O. HORIN (Ukraine) said the use of land mines must be outlawed. Ukraine welcomed the initiative of a number of States to conclude a relevant, legally-binding international agreement to that end. Ukraine would not object to including the elaboration of a global anti-personnel land-mine treaty on the agenda of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. Effective organizational schemes and cost-effective technical means for mine-clearance were needed. Activities in the field of mine-clearance were of important humanitarian value and could lead to ways of reducing United Nations casualties and enabling fragile societies emerging from conflicts to be rebuilt and rehabilitated, he said. In many nations debilitated by conflict, mines impeded the efforts of Governments to rebuild. Land-mines prevented agricultural land from being worked, roads from being used; people from returning home; and confidence from being restored. It was a shocking fact that more women and children and agricultural workers were killed, wounded and maimed after a cease-fire than during the actual conflict. Full-scale international efforts on the part of Member States and non- governmental organizations were needed, he said. The United Nations role in the effort was central and the Department for Humanitarian Affairs had already become the focal point for mine-clearance activities. Ukraine was prepared to provide, on specific terms, special military units for mine removal operations conducted by the United Nations and other international organizations. A mine-clearance training centre had been established in Ukraine with all the facilities needed to train foreign specialists. Such training in Ukraine would be especially useful in training those who faced the task of clearing mines produced in the former Soviet Union. AURELIO IRAGORRI (Colombia) said it was estimated that there were 110 million land-mines buried in more than 70 countries. Most mines posed a threat to the life and integrity of populations of developing countries that were or had been the scenes of international or domestic conflicts. Most of the nearly 25,000 victims annually of land-mine-related accidents were civilians. More mines were laid each year with mine-clearance efforts covering only a small portion. If no new mines were laid, removal of all existing land-mines would cost between $50 billion and $100 billion.

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The role of the United Nations in mine-clearance was commendable, he said. Nonetheless, its programmes operated in only nine of the 70 countries most affected. Since affected countries faced considerable economic constraints, the contribution of the international community was vital.

CARLOS DOS SANTOS (Mozambique) said his Government welcomed the role of the United Nations and the international community in outlining the course of action to tackle the problem of land-mines in many developing countries, including Mozambique. The development of a sustainable national mine- clearance capacity, as envisaged in last year's Assembly resolution on the matter, deserved support. Also, he welcomed the Security Council's decision to consider mine-clearance needs in the context of peace-keeping operations.

Mozambique's mine-clearance programme had received vital support from the Department for Humanitarian Affairs, UNDP and development partners, he said. That programme was crucial to the success of current efforts to rehabilitate the rural infrastructure and to promote agricultural production. Mozambique and UNDP were collaborating on the development of a national mine-clearance plan which would establish clearance priorities and strengthen Mozambique's national mine removal capacity. Every month in Mozambique, approximately 1,000 mines and an equal number of items of unexploded ordnance were cleared; more than 20,000 mines had been cleared to date. While the number of mines remaining was unclear, they must all be removed. The threat of only one land-mine would seriously disrupt development efforts and socio- economic development.

PETER RIDER (New Zealand) said there must be an immediate and unequivocal ban on all anti-personnel land-mines. This year, New Zealand had renounced the operational use of anti-personnel land-mine by its defence force. Many other nations had taken similar steps. At a recent international meeting in Canada, participants recognized the need to provide significantly greater resources to mine-awareness programmes, mine-clearance operations and victim assistance. New Zealand had been active in international mine- clearance efforts, having offered financial support to United Nations efforts through the voluntary trust fund for assistance in mine-clearance and to the Department for Humanitarian Affairs. Also, two officers of New Zealand's defense force were working with the DPKO operations and the Department for Humanitarian Affairs as mine removal advisers. The Security Council must clearly define the mine-clearance responsibilities of different United Nations bodies involved in peace-keeping operations, he said. His Government endorsed the decisions of the Department for Humanitarian Affairs to conduct a survey to determine lessons learned from past mine-clearance programmes. New Zealand suggested the possible establishment of a rapid mine-clearance capacity, within the context of the standby force concept. Thought should be given to acquiring more mine- protected vehicles and developing operational concepts and standardized procedures to address the threat of mines.

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JAKKEN BIORN LIAN (Norway) said that the primary victims of anti- personnel land-mines were unarmed civilians, particularly children. They also had a devastating effect on societies at large, making entire areas of land inaccessible for decades, preventing refugees and internally displaced persons from returning home, and hindering social and economic development. The only response to that scourge was the total prohibition and elimination of those mines. Norway had consistently advocated such a total ban on their production, transfer and use. By October this year, all mines in Norwegian military stockpiles had been removed and destroyed, freeing the country from anti-personnel mines.

He said international demining capacity could be increased by enhancing permanent local demining capabilities. Norway spent more than $14 million on humanitarian mine-related activities in 1996, and was ready to contribute expert personnel to the stand-by capacity of the United Nations mine- assistance programmes. More resources were set aside for producing new weapons including mines than for alleviating the damages they caused. Efforts must therefore focus on developing improved mining technology.

He drew attention to the amended Protocol II on land-mines of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed To Be Excessively Injurious or To Have Indiscriminate Effects. The Convention Review Conference had fallen short of expectation. The amended Protocol II did not ban anti-personnel mines and did not go far enough in the area of interim protection for civilians. Nevertheless, it represented an important first step on the road to a legally binding global ban. The annual meetings of States parties and the next Review Conference in 2001, would serve as important forums for promoting momentum for a global ban.

MAKARIM WIBISONO (Indonesia) said that the United Nations basic approach to assistance in mine clearance had been based on the principle of building national capacity so it would be sustainable once the United Nations agencies had withdrawn. Time was needed to build such capacities for demining, and a case-by-case approach was required, owing to differences in geography and mine types. The issue of mine clearance was complex, involving technical, financial, political and administrative facets. Rightly, he continued, the Department for Humanitarian Affairs had been the focal point for demining. An integrated approach had permitted numerous agencies to coordinate their activities through that central office, in order to operate effectively in the field.

He said there was a need for intensified research in mine clearance. The technology currently in use for mere detection and clearance was outdated. Member States able to do so could contribute properly trained and experienced instructors, trained manpower needed to carry out demining and training of local populations, as well as appropriate and modern equipment. Technical and

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financial assistance could help curb the disastrous effects of land-mines. Norway had noted the decision of several States to impose moratoriums or bans on the production, export and operational use of land-mines. Nevertheless, the ultimate goal remained a global ban. It was hoped that Member States would cooperate in providing relevant information to the Secretary-General.

DAVID KARSGAARD (Canada) said the report of the Secretary-General made clear why land-mines were called "the war that never ends". Pointing out that Member States all had a role to play in addressing that horror, he noted that Canada had contributed extensive funds since 1993 to the United Nations to assist its mine-clearance programme in several countries. It had also provided personnel and technical assistance to various United Nations agencies. He welcomed the World Bank's decision to contribute to mine clearance in Bosnia. He said his country encouraged the interest of the financial institutions in mine clearance, and urged the Bank to work closely with the mine-action programme in Bosnia of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs.

He said he endorsed the proposal for a global ban on anti-personnel mines, and noted that there were to be conferences hosted by Germany, Japan and Belgium to look at various issues relating to land-mines. The Canadian Government considered the improvement of land-mine technology to be very important. Survivors of mines required the help of everyone; that aspect of the issue was only beginning to receive the attention it deserved. In line with the international efforts to achieve a total ban on anti-personnel mines, he went on, the Canadian Government would be holding a domestic conference next month to explore how the country could be of assistance to land-mine survivors.

HISASHI OWADA (Japan) said that according to United Nations estimates, there were uncleared land-mines in about 70 countries, and there were now 110 million of them. To remove them would cost anywhere between $50 billion and $100 billion, and -- working at the current pace -- the process would take many decades. The international community must tackle the root causes of the problem through efforts towards a global ban on anti-personnel land-mines. Equally important, he noted, was humanitarian assistance to land-mine victims which must be provided in a coordinated manner. He noted considerable headway in recent months towards a global ban. On the humanitarian issue, he suggested three areas for attention: cooperation through the United Nations and its affiliated agencies in land-mine clearance; cooperation for the development of new technology for land-mine clearance and removal, and cooperation for assistance to land-mine victims. To that end, Japan intended to organize a Tokyo Conference on Anti-personnel Land-mines next March.

He said it was gratifying to see the issue of land-mines attracting much greater international attention today. It was important to take advantage of this favourable tide in the international environment and to act vigorously to

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address the problem. He hoped the Tokyo Conference would produce tangible results, contributing to the common goal of eventually creating a world free from all anti-personnel land-mines.

PREZELL ROBINSON (United States) said the United States had stopped the export of anti-personnel land-mines and led an effort to halt all trade in those instruments. More than 35 nations had joined in that effort. Research was under way into new technologies for mine detection and clearance.

Addressing the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, he said the United States was leading an international effort to begin clearing the millions of mines scattered throughout the country. It had announced a new initiative to develop an indigenous mine removal capacity. The Bosnian Mine Action Centre was operating under a United Nations mandate, coordinating mine-awareness training, data gathering and mine-clearance activities through regional offices located in each ethnic region. The Centre would eventually become part of the Bosnian Government. A United States Special Forces team recently completed the training of nearly 200 Bosnian deminers from among all three ethnic communities. In addition, the United States was establishing a humanitarian demining centre to serve as a central clearing house of demining information and to provide access to information, training and research on demining activities.

He said mine-awareness training, especially for children, would be needed in many countries for some time, adding that the entertainment industry in the United States had joined with the Department of Defense to produce a Superman comic book as a new mine-awareness and educational tool for the children of Bosnia. That comic was being produced in three languages. It was an effort in which the United States took pride.

GUMA I. AMER (Libya) said his was among the countries that suffered from land-mines laid during World War II. Several million explosive devices, mostly land-mines, had been planted during various campaigns in North Africa. Regretfully, the Allies had left behind the mines without leaving maps indicating their locations. Thousands had been killed and many more injured; efforts to build roads and railways had been impeded; anti-desertification plans had been interrupted. In addition, the existence of mines had prevented the exploitation of mineral resources and oil exploration.

The success of Libyan efforts to address the problem had been limited, demonstrating that mine-clearance activities supported only by national resources were incomplete. Any help from the United Nations would be welcomed. He noted that the international community had decided that the responsibility for the clearance of war debris, including land-mines, was that of the countries which planted them. It had also been decided that those countries should provide the necessary information and technical assistance needed for the clearance of mines and pay compensation for related losses and

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the costs of removal and destruction. While several countries were responsible for planting mines in Libya, the information had been insufficient. He appealed to Italy and Germany, and others, to provide more information, as well as advanced technology needed for detecting and removing mines.

ALEXANDER S. GORELIK (Russian Federation) said his country viewed the issue of mine clearance as critical, since it was among the most affected States. Some 100,000 explosive devices were detected and destroyed annually in Russian territory. Despite those efforts, thousands had fallen victim to mines dating back to World War II. The conditions were already in place for the United Nations to play a leading role in rendering technical assistance and enhancing national capacities for mine clearance. That effort should now involve tuning up an effective cooperation between the United Nations, regional organizations and interested States.

In the Russian Federation, the work on a federal mine-clearance programme had entered its final stage, he said. Complex and expensive missions were also performed in the course of peace-keeping operations in the territory of members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In the zone of the Abkhaz conflict alone, Commonwealth peace-keepers had disarmed more than 21,000 explosive devices.

A legal foundation for international cooperation in mine clearance had begun to emerge, he said. Building on its experience and expertise, Russia was ready to take part in rendering assistance in mine clearance on a multilateral or bilateral basis. At the same time, Russia itself needed financial support for its own mine-clearance programmes.

ALOUNKEO KITTIKHOUN (Lao People's Democratic Republic), citing the case of a farmer injured by shrapnel and a schoolboy badly burned by a phosphorous bomb, urged the world community to help his country address the problem. From 1964 to 1973, it had suffered some of the heaviest aerial bombing in world history. Ground battles had left a staggering amount of unexploded ordnance, including mortar shells, munitions and land-mines. Unexploded anti-personnel "bomblets" could be found everywhere -- in the fields, on hillsides, within villages, along roads, and in the centre of towns. It was estimated that those weapons contaminated up to 50 per cent of the country's total land mass, including 12 of its 16 provinces.

When the war ended over 20 years ago, there was no systematic national programme to address the problem of unexploded ordnance, he said. However, a number of small projects had been launched in specific localities. On 1 August 1995, the Lao Government, together with the UNDP and UNICEF, signed a trust fund for the clearance of unexploded ordnance. A national programme was initiated aimed at reducing the number of civilian casualties and increasing the amount of land available for food production and other development

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activities. Increased funding, with pledges made in advance and on a multi- year basis, would help in developing a long-term programme.

CLAUDIA FRITSCHE (Liechtenstein) said her country supported a global ban on anti-personnel land-mines, through a legally binding instrument. The responsibility for demining affected countries lay primarily with the parties that laid those weapons. The development of national and local mine-clearance capacities played an important role in tackling the striking imbalance between the number of mines already cleared and those still threatening the lives of civilians. At the same time, the promotion of technical improvements to maximize the effectiveness of mine-detection and humanitarian mine-clearance operations was urgently needed.

As long as millions of land-mines continued to threaten the lives and living conditions of civilians in many countries, it was crucial to promote awareness of the dangers they posed, especially among children, to keep them from taking an even heavier toll, she said. Where mines had actually fulfilled their devastating task, attention to their victims constituted an essential part of the international community's integrated approach to the land-mine crisis.

JULIO ARMANDO MARTINI HERRERA (Guatemala) said his country had condemned the production, manufacture, stockpiling and sale of land-mines. Such mines complicated the return and resettlement of displaced persons and affected productivity, because they made agricultural land unusable. Guatemala had done a great deal, with international assistance, to eliminate mines. The interest and assistance of the Secretary-General, various agencies and Member States on the matter were appreciated. The decision by certain countries to prohibit such mines for now was welcome, as were the conferences on the matter which had been scheduled for next year. Guatemala supported the strengthening of the mine-clearance unit of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs and would contribute to any efforts for the elimination of land-mines.

ABDUL GHAFAR OSMAN (Afghanistan) said the authorities of the Islamic State of Afghanistan would address the problem of land-mines in relation to the problems caused in his country by existing mines and the strengthening of United Nations mine-clearance activities. With 10 million land-mines planted in Afghanistan, the problem of his country in relation to such mines was deemed the worst in the world. The problem had not only jeopardized efforts to repatriate refugees, but also hindered the restoration of peace and normality. The existence of land-mines had also adversely affected Afghanistan's agricultural industry, the lifestyle of the people and the nation's transportation system. Afghanistan might not be able to contribute financially to the demining efforts, but would offer facilities.

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ANA MARIA RAMIREZ (Argentina) said there were signs that the international community wished to solve the problem created by anti-personnel land-mines. The work of the Department of Humanitarian Affairs in promoting security procedures for mine clearance and the search for new technologies were very important. Land-mine proliferation must be given priority consideration. The first step would be the adoption of an international treaty banning the use and production of land-mines. Negotiations on that treaty must include the nations affected by land-mines.

WAYNE McCOOK (Jamaica) said the Secretary-General's report underscored the importance for everyone of the mission of mine clearance. He said he supported the efforts to train more and more people in the techniques of demining, and to develop new and improved technologies. It was a sad fact that many nations beleaguered by conflicts and their aftermath had to contend with the tremendous costs of caring for victims of land-mine explosions. The situation was made worse by the fact that land-mines posed severe impediments to economic growth. He supported initiatives to develop programmes that included national involvement in training of local demining personnel, and the development of national bodies for the coordination of demining efforts. Coupled with public information and education activities to alert communities to the dangers posed by land-mines, these initiatives were vital. He drew attention to the need for concerted research in the area of demining technology and a commitment to stop the use of anti-personnel land-mines.

JULIO BENITEZ SAENZ (Uruguay) said his country had frequently spoken out against the circulation, stockpiling and production of land-mines. Those weapons should indeed be described as weapons of mass destruction. Uruguay had a strong humanitarian approach to the problem and particularly supported the Secretary-General's ideas on the impact of armed conflict on children.

Children should not continue to be exposed to death and mutilation, he said. Uruguay firmly supported all initiatives tending towards an international agreement prohibiting the use of anti-personnel land-mines.

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For information media. Not an official record.