Geneva 19 May 2014 – A week-long series of events has begun in Geneva to consider key issues concerning the future of the anti-landmines movement.
Maputo +15 kicked off on 19 May by looking back fifteen years to when the international community first gathered in the Mozambican capital to begin the historic effort to fulfil the promise made by the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, or Ottawa Convention. In one month’s time, the international community will return to Mozambique for the Convention’s Maputo Review Conference, at which time decisions on next steps for the Convention will be taken.
Maputo +15 is expected to draw hundreds of participants from academia, the Geneva diplomatic corps, the mine action, disability and human rights worlds, and the general public. These events are being sponsored by the European Union.
“Much time has passed since the Convention's first meeting and we can be proud of what we have accomplished,” said Ambassador Mariangela Zappia of the European Union at the official opening of Maputo +15. “At the same time, we recognise that not all our promises have been yet fulfilled. In Maputo we will have the opportunity to reaffirm our shared commitment to the objectives of the Convention and to advance our common efforts for a world free of the effects of anti-personnel mines. It will be an opportunity to build on our achievements and adopt a plan to address the remaining challenges.”
“For the past fifteen years, cooperation between civil society and States has fuelled the tremendous success of this Convention,” said Sylvie Brigot-Vilain, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) – Cluster Munition Coalition and a Maputo +15 panellist. “While the challenges facing the Convention are different than those in 1999, the need to maintain a cooperative spirit remains equally important,” added Ms. Brigot-Vilain, a delegate at the Convention’s First Meeting of the States Parties in 1999, and who part of the ICBL delegation at the June 2014 Maputo Review Conference.
In addition to considering the future of cooperation and assistance under the Convention, Maputo +15 will raise questions regarding prospects of achieving universal acceptance of the Convention and what more can be done to integrate landmine victim assistance into broader human rights and other frameworks.
“The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention broke new ground through its obligations to provide for the well-being of landmine victims,” said Cornelio Sommaruga, who, while serving as the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross in the 1990s, played a central role in the process that led to the adoption of the Convention. “It is clear that the Convention has made a huge difference, but equally clear that challenges remain in realising the vision of a world where individuals, including landmine survivors, can participate in all spheres of society on a basis equal to others,” added Mr. Sommaruga, who is taking part in the Maputo +15 events in Geneva this week.
The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention was adopted in Oslo in 1997, opened for signature in Ottawa the same year and entered into force on 1 March 1999.
From 3 to 7 May 1999, the international community gathered in Maputo for the Convention’s First Meeting of the States Parties. Since that time, millions of square metres of once dangerous lands have been released for normal human activity and over 45.7 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed.
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