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Landmine Awareness Day

Wednesday is the UN International Day for Landmine Awareness. And the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, the ICBL, is calling for “universal adherence and implementation” of the international mine treaty. The treaty bans the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of the weapons.

A number of major countries, including the United States and Russia, have not signed the treaty. The United States, however, is the biggest individual supporter of landmines clearance and assistance, donating nearly $82 million, according to 2005 figures. The European Commission and member states have donated more.

Sylvie Brigot is executive director of the ICBL. From Geneva, she spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua.

“We appreciate very much that the whole international community is focused on mine action, but we feel that raising awareness on mine action is not enough. We think that raising awareness…should be just a tool to promote further adherence to the mine ban treaty because obviously within the mine ban treaty you have all provisions, which basically could ensure that there are no landmines anymore…and that survivors get the assistance they deserve and have the right to,” she says.

So far, 153 countries adhere to the treaty, with the latest to join being Indonesia. The United States is among the 42 countries that have not yet joined. Others include India, Pakistan, China, Russia and Burma /Myanmar.

“What I would like to say here is that even in those countries…the treaty and the momentum around the treaty changed their behavior. That’s why we have some of these countries with moratoria on production or export or even on use. We have also some of these countries destroying part of their stockpiles. And we feel that the weapon itself, anti-personnel landmines, has been stigmatized,” she says.

Most African countries have signed the landmine treaty.