A world free of land mines

Ten years on from the implementation of the Convention banning landmines it is estimated 42 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed. The Treaty itself has almost universal acceptance with 156 States having ratified or acceded to the Convention.

UN Human Rights deputy High Commissioner Kyung-wha Kang addressed the 2nd Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention in Cartagena, Colombia and identified assistance to victims of land-mines as the most important priority for State Parties - © UN PhotoPointing to these figures as evidence of ‘immense’ progress, the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang has nevertheless cautioned that “urgent and firm action” is still needed. 

In a speech to the Second Review Conference of the “Mine Ban Treaty” in the Colombian city of Cartagena, the Deputy High Commissioner said the most important challenge for State Parties is the provision of assistance to victims especially the most vulnerable, such as children and women, and indigenous and rural populations.

Kang noted that the entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2008 had been a momentous development in this regard because of the convergence between its obligations and those of the Convention banning landmines.
They both require “care and rehabilitation” and “social and economic reintegration”, she said.

“The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” Kang said, “should serve as a vital instrument for all stakeholders involved in victim assistance.”

While many States have acted to destroy their mines, illegal armed groups continue to use, stockpile and produce landmines. A commitment to stop using landmines should be a fundamental element of peace negotiations, Kang told the Conference. Delegates were also urged to continue efforts to clear mines. Identifying it as another of the key challenges still before the international community, Kang said, “Mine clearing is one of the most effective solutions to durably remove risks for civilians and free up land for productive use.”

In conclusion Kang said she hoped that the “number of victims will drastically decrease every year and that State parties will adopt the necessary measures to ensure that all survivors will be able to reconstruct their lives with dignity, respect and hope for the future.”

On December 3rd the world celebrates the 2009 International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The theme of this year is “Empowering Persons with Disabilities with the Right to Act!”

4 December, 2009