Accelerated effort needed to end mine scourge – Guterres

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Although a landmark convention banning anti-personnel Mines saved “countless lives” and limbs over the past 20 years, “accelerated efforts” are needed to ensure they are removed from the face of the earth forever, the UN chief said.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a statement on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention coming into force on March 1, 1999, saying it was a welcome milestone but more countries needed to sign up and ratify “as soon as possible”.

The statement said the Convention had “saved countless lives, stopped mutilation and injury and enabled the revitalisation of livelihoods.”

The UN chief “commended the commitment of States parties to rid the world of a weapon that kills and maims indiscriminately, while seriously impeding peace and development.  Guterres congratulated the 31 States who have declared their land mine-free and “urges all States that have not done so to accede as soon as possible to the Convention.”

Mines must become ‘a relic of the past’

The Convention was concluded at an international conference in September 1997 in Oslo, Norway and bans the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and calls for their total destruction. It is also referred to as the Ottawa Convention, as it was opened for signature in the Canadian city, at the end of 1997.

It remained open at UN Headquarters in New York, until its entry into force. In December 1997, 122 governments had signed the treaty, with Burkina Faso the 40th country to ratify ot, triggering its entry into force in 1999.

The Secretary-General calls for accelerated efforts to render anti-personnel mines a relic of the past.  He also appeals to States to ensure access to sustainable assistance and services for the thousands of mine victims.