Geneva – The landmark treaty banning anti-personnel mines, the Ottawa Convention, has achieved another major milestone by becoming binding law through the European Union. With the entry into force of the Convention for Poland on 1 June, all EU Member States are now legally bound to, never under any circumstances, use, produce, stockpile or transfer anti-personnel mines.
“The European Union is united to end the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines,” said Andras Kos, Head of Disarmament of the European Union delegation to the United Nations in Geneva. “Together we will continue to comply with our obligations under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and provide leadership and resources to clear mined areas, destroy stockpiles and assist landmine survivors.”
The Convention’s President, Ambassador Matjaz Kovacic of Slovenia further highlighted the importance of the EU’s commitment to the Convention: “The European Union has become the first regional organization to see all of its member states join the Convention. I encourage other regional organizations to follow the EU lead, which is indeed possible, particularly in the Americas and Africa, where all but a handful of States remain outside of the anti-landmines movement.”
With the entry into force of the Convention for Poland, there are now 161 States Parties to the Convention. In the Americas, only the United States and Cuba have not acceded. In Africa, only Egypt, Libya and Morocco remain outside of the Convention.
The Convention was adopted in Oslo in 1997, opened for signature in Ottawa the same year and entered into force on 1 March 1999. Since then, 25 States Parties have indicated they no longer have mined areas, including four EU member states: Bulgaria, Denmark, France and Greece.
The Convention obliges States Parties in a position to do so to provide assistance for demining, stockpile destruction and victim assistance. During the period 1992 to 2011, the EU and its member states contributed nearly US$ 2.5 billion to mine action.
Together the States Parties have destroyed over 44.5 million stockpiled mines, including over 21 million mines destroyed by 24 EU member states.
The Convention’s Implementation Support Unit is currently implementing a two-year EU Council Decision to further promote progress in the pursuit of the Convention’s aims in the lead up to the Convention’s third five-year review in 2014.