It gives me great pleasure to convey my greetings to all participants in the Fifth 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.
The multilateral commitment embodied in the Convention to renounce an entire category of indiscriminate weapons has been achieved through the combined efforts of many actors –governments, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, and civil society as a whole. This impressive partnership has achieved a great deal in a short time, and contributed to the rapid emergence of an international norm banning anti-personnel mines.
Since the entry into force of the Convention in 1999, more than two-thirds of all states have banned anti-personnel mines and joined efforts to address their impact on people. I call on those states that have not yet accepted the Convention to become part of this process without delay.
I also urge all states affected by anti-personnel mines to do their utmost to develop and implement plans to clear mined areas, to destroy stockpiles, and to provide victim assistance and mine risk education. As they do so, I encourage them to bear in mind the needs of local communities, pay due regard to gender concerns, and incorporate mine action into development planning and budgeting. And I strongly encourage those states and other partners in a position to do so to provide adequate and sustained technical and financial assistance to states affected by mines.
Finally, allow me to express the hope that you will decide to hold the Convention's First Review Conference in Nairobi, Kenya –a decision that would highlight both the terrible impact of mines in Africa, and the progress that has been made towards eliminating the threat of mines on the continent.
Please accept my best wishes for a successful meeting.