It is an honour to address the Conference on Disarmament in my capacity as President of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.
On Friday 1 March, the international community will celebrate the 14th anniversary of the entry into force of this landmark humanitarian and disarmament instrument.
Fourteen years is a significant amount of time and therefore it is timely to step back and take stock of what has transpired during this period.
As I noted when I closed last December’s Twelfth Meeting of the States Parties, or 12MSP, the anti-landmines movement continues to march closer to its goal.
With the accession to the Convention by Poland and Somalia last year, there are now 161 States that have now made a solemn commitment to end the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines.
The accession to the Convention by these two States means that all Member States of the European Union and every State in Sub-Saharan Africa have foresworn the use of an inhumane and indiscriminate weapon that has no place in modern defence and warfare.
I was pleased at the 12MSP that the United States of America indicated that its landmine policy review is on-going and that it expects to be able to announce a decision soon. I would appeal to the United States to conclude its landmine policy review in such a way that it too will soon be a part of this movement.
Of course, ending the suffering caused by anti-personnel mines means more than only achieving universal acceptance of the Convention.
We must also clear all mined areas, destroy all stocks and assist the victims.
Again, in fourteen years since entry into force, significant progress has been made.
At the 12MSP, six States Parties declared completion of their obligation to clear all mined areas under their jurisdiction or control: Congo, Denmark, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Jordan and Uganda.
There are now 23 States Parties that have complied with this obligation. In addition, Hungary confirmed that it will conclude mine clearance efforts in 2013, and Mozambique and Venezuela reported that they aim to complete mine clearance by the time of their respective deadlines to do so in 2014.
With respect to the destruction of stockpiled anti-personnel mines, it is perhaps important to highlight in this forum that, in the time that the Conference on Disarmament has remained in a stalemate, real disarmament has proceeded elsewhere.
That is, since entry into force of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, together the States Parties have destroyed over 44.5 million stockpiled mines.
In addition, at the 12MSP, Ukraine reported that a project to destroy three million stockpiled mines would commence early this year and Greece indicated that it would reinitiate its destruction process as soon as possible.
With respect to victim assistance, at the 12MSP, the link between the Convention’s promise to assist landmine survivors and the relevant human rights framework was strengthened through the participation of UN Human Rights chief Navy Pillay.
Moreover, as one of the great leaders in this movement, Norway, stated,the situation for the majority of mine victims is significantly better today than it was a decade ago.
It is perhaps an interesting coincidence that the period that this Convention has been in effect and the length of the stalemate in the Conference of Disarmament are almost the same.
In the time when the minority of States which participate in this august body have been talking about talking about disarmament, the majority of the world’s States have been actually disarming, reducing human suffering, and making a positive difference in the lives of countless women, girls, boys and men.
I would appeal to all members of the Conference of Disarmament that have not yet done so to join the Convention as soon as possible.
In addition, I would ask all States to renew their efforts to implement the Convention.
Our Convention is historic and our progress has been tremendous, but more work needs to be done.
Let us continue to march closer to our goal in greater numbers and with a commitment that will be sustained until the job is done.