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Landmine Ban Produces Results, 4 Years After Inception - 2003-02-28

Four years ago March 1, a treaty calling for a total ban on landmines came into effect in many countries around the world. Since then almost 30 million mines have been destroyed.

Supporters of the landmine treaty say there is no doubt it is making a difference in peoples' lives.

Susan Walker is a representative of a group called the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. She said the landmine treaty, by leading to the elimination of almost 30 million mines, has made the world much safer.

"These weapons will never, ever threaten to take life or limb of an innocent civilian or affect the socio-economic development of some of the world's poorest countries," she said.

The treaty prohibits the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. It had 45 signatories when it came into effect in 1999; now it has 131. Countries that have not joined the treaty include China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.

Peter Herby, a landmine expert at the International Committee of the Red Cross, acknowledges that landmines are still maiming and killing people in many parts of the world, but he says the number of casualties would be much greater if it were not for the landmine treaty.

"We have seen in our field work that it is making a difference on the ground," he said. "In several of the countries where we work, where the Convention is being applied, the number of victims has fallen by 60 or 70 percent or more since the treaty was adopted."

Mr. Herby says the treaty has established an international norm. He says many of the nations that remain outside the treaty have enacted laws to prohibit the export and transit of landmines. And some have put a moratorium on the production of landmines.