Kenya: ICRC landmines workshop renews calls for ban implementation

The East Africa Landmines Workshop, organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Governments of Kenya and Canada, has just ended in Nairobi with an urgent call for renewed commitment to implementing the 1997 Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel mines.
The meeting, which gathered defence and foreign affairs officials from 10 African countries in the region along with envoys from Thailand and Austria, concluded that significant progress had been made in ridding the region of anti-personnel land mines, but that efforts needed to be increased to fulfil the obligations of the Convention.

Five years after the entry into force of the 1997 Ottawa Convention of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, 46 of the 48 nations of Sub-Saharan Africa are now party to the treaty. Africa remains, however, the most mine-affected continent in the world.

The meeting was held as part of preparations for the Nairobi Summit for a Mine Free World, to be held in Nairobi in November, which will bring together all 141 States Parties to the Convention to take stock of global progress made since the entry into force of the Ottawa Convention and plan future action.

ICRC Head of Regional Delegation Pascal Cuttat said the Ottawa Convention was a "unique example of States, international organizations and civil society working together in partnership to try to resolve an urgent humanitarian crisis".

Although 141 States Parties have signed the Convention, there are nevertheless only five years to go before the 2009 deadline for clearing the majority of mine-affected areas - a deadline that can only be met if increased technical, material and financial resources are made available.

For further information contact: Kathleen Lawand, Legal Adviser, Mines-Arms Unit, ICRC Geneva, Tel: ++41 22 730 28 20 Mark Snelling, Regional Information Delegate, ICRC Nairobi, Tel: ++254 722 512728