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World Marks Ten Years Of Landmine Ban Treaty

Campaigners around the globe are taking action this week to once again draw the world’s attention to the horrific consequences of landmines and to call for renewed efforts toward a mine-free world. The campaign is led by the International campaign to ban land mines, a network of more than 1400 non-governmental organizations in 90 countries working for a global ban on landmines.

Today (March 1, 2009) the world marks ten years since the treaty banning antipersonnel mines became binding international law.

Tamar Gabelnick, the Treaty Implementation Director at the International campaign to ban land mines, told VOA’s Douglas Mpuga that the main aim of the treaty was to actually ban antipersonnel landmines. “It’s a complete ban on the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. Also, to provide for the clearance of the landmines, and to provide assistance to landmine victims, she added”.

Speaking from the French capital, Paris, Gabelnick noted that the first purpose of mine ban treaty was to ban the weapons, and that has been a uniform success. “There are 156 states that are party to the convention to ban land mines – that means 156 states that will never again produce, use or transfer landmines”.

She said the other successes have been the clearance of the land, a process she described as a tool through which mine clearance is happening in dozens of countries around the world.

“International cooperation and assistance is also a requirement of the treaty which means countries that are not manufacturers but have more resources are required to give to other states, provide victim assistance, and destroy stockpiles.”

Gabelnick said that although in the past ten years over 40 million landmines have been destroyed, a mine free world means “the full universalization and implementation of the convention”. “It’s not possible to find each and every mine because, of course, they are hidden in the ground, but a mine free world means trying as much as possible to get rid of all the mines - and that is possible”.

She noted that there are only 39 countries outside the treaty and only two countries are said to be actually using landmines. “So much has been achieved but there is still a lot of work to be done and later this year there will be a conference to review what progress has been made and what remains to be done.