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Anti-personnel mine treaty's fourth anniversary coincides with first deadline: Almost 30 million mines destroyed

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GENEVA, 27 February (UN Information Service) - The 131 States parties to the Convention banning anti-personnel mines will mark the treaty's fourth anniversary of implementation on 1 March by celebrating the fact that they have destroyed almost 30 million landmines.

"This Convention is about States taking meaningful actions to disarm, promote peace and address the humanitarian impact of anti-personnel mines," said Ambassador Jean Lint of Belgium, President of the Convention's Fourth Meeting of the States parties. "And action is exactly what we have seen from the 55 States parties that either have eliminated anti-personnel mines from their arsenals or will soon complete their destruction programmes."

1 March, 2003 marks both four years since the Convention entered into force and the date when many of the Convention's States parties will be required to comply with the Convention's first deadline for stockpile destruction. "The compliance rate of this Convention is extremely impressive," said Ambassador Lint, noting that every State party but one with a 1 March deadline has already indicated that it no longer will possess stockpiles on that date.

"At a time when there is a great deal of pessimism surrounding multilateral affairs, this Convention serves as a beacon of hope that citizens and their governments, working in partnership, can make a difference," said Susan B. Walker of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate International Campaign to Ban Landmines. "The actions taken by States parties to destroy almost 30 million mines mean these weapons will never threaten to take life or limb of an innocent civilian, or affect the socio-economic development of some of the world's poorest countries."

Mr. Lint remarked that the States parties serve as examples to those countries that remain outside of the Convention. "Our actions have demonstrated our firm belief that the humanitarian impact of these weapons necessitates their elimination," said the Ambassador. "At the same time we, the 55 States that have destroyed mines, have demonstrated that our armed forces can live without these weapons. We encourage States that have not yet joined the Convention to follow our lead."

The drafting of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction was completed in Oslo on 18 September, 1997. For their efforts to promote the establishment of the Convention, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and its Coordinator, Jody Williams, were awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.

The Convention was opened for signature in Ottawa on 3 December, 1997 and on 1 March, 1999 it entered into force. As of 27 February, 2003 a total of 131 States had formally accepted the Convention. These States include almost every State in the Americas, Sub-Saharan Africa and Europe, as well as 45 mine-affected countries. An additional 15 States signed the Convention but have not yet ratified it. A total of 48 States did not sign nor have yet acceded to it, including China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.

The Convention prohibits the production, use or transfer of anti-personnel mines, and requires that each State party destroy existing stockpiles within four years of the Convention's entry into force for that particular State. The Convention entered into force for 45 States on 1 March, 1999 and thus these 45 States will be required to have completed destruction of stockpiles by 1 March, 2003.

To date, a total of 55 States parties either have completed the destruction of stockpiles of anti-personnel mines or are in the process of doing so. Some States have destroyed incredible numbers of mines, including Italy, which recently completed destruction of over 7.1 million mines and Japan, which destroyed almost 1 million mines.

The States parties' next annual meeting - their fifth - will take place in Bangkok, Thailand, 15 to 19 September, 2003. In advance of this gathering, meetings of the four Standing Committees (on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies; Victim Assistance and Socio-Economic Reintegration; Stockpile Destruction; and General Status and Operation of the Convention) established by the States parties will be held in Geneva, 12 to 16 May, 2003.

By 1 March, 2003, the following States parties will be required to no longer possess stockpiles of anti-personnel mines (in italics, States parties that never had stockpiles of anti-personnel mines): Andorra, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Fiji, France, Germany, Grenada, Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Niue, Norway, Peru, Samoa, San Marino, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

As of 27 February, 2003, the following States parties have destroyed mines (number of destroyed mines in parentheses; '+' -- destruction programme still in progress): Afghanistan (70,000)+; Albania (1,683,869); Argentina (200)+; Australia (135,076); Austria (116,000); Belgium (433,441); Bosnia & Herzegovina (532,556); Brazil (43,384)+; Bulgaria (881,970); Cambodia (71,991); Canada (92,551); Chad (3,293); Chile (89,076)+; Colombia (2,542)+; Croatia (205,749); Czech Republic (366,349); Denmark (267,417); Djibouti (unknown)+; Ecuador (260,320); El Salvador (7,549); France (1,098,281); Germany (1,700,000); Guinea Bissau (1,000)+; Honduras (7,441); Hungary (356,884); Italy (7,112,881); Japan (985,089); Jordan (77,552)+; Luxembourg (9,600); the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (38,871); Malaysia (94,721); Mali (5,127); Mauritania (8,084); Moldova (12,121); Mozambique (21,318)+; Netherlands (260,510); Nicaragua (133,813); Norway (160,000); Peru (322,892); Philippines (2,460); Portugal (231,781); Romania (716,148)+; Slovakia (185,560); Slovenia (168,698); South Africa (314,104); Spain (853,286); Sweden (2,348,149); Switzerland (3,850,212); Thailand (286,245)+; Tunisia (6,075)+; Turkmenistan (940,854)+; United Kingdom (2,099,107); Uruguay (432)+; Yemen (74,000); Zimbabwe (4,092).

For further information, please contact: Jean Lint, Permanent Mission of Belgium, 41-22-730-4020; and Susan B. Walker, International Campaign to Ban Landmines, 41-79-470-1931.