Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
Today we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of one of the most successful multilateral disarmament treaties of recent times: the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, often referred to as the Mine Ban Treaty.
This Treaty has succeeded in:
- establishing a powerful norm against any use of landmines;
- gaining the support of 164 states parties – more than three quarters of the world’s states – and securing their commitment to its implementation;
- ensuring the destruction of nearly 52 million stockpiled landmines;
- completing clearance in 31 states parties that were previously contaminated by antipersonnel mines;
- releasing vast areas of land to local communities.
Mine action is about the protection of civilians from weapons that continue to kill and injure people long after a conflict has ended.
Every time a landmine is destroyed, we are potentially saving someone’s life or limb.
We have an impressive panel here today, made up of people who have been working in the field for years, protecting civilians from mines and assisting survivors.
Over the past few years, we have seen renewed use of landmines, and a growing number of casualties as a result. Children are especially at risk.
The Mine Ban Treaty broke new ground as the first disarmament treaty to recognise the rights of survivors.
For children who survive an accident, the consequences are serious and long-term. Most of them will have to live with a disability for the rest of their lives. They will need access to rehabilitation programmes, psychosocial support and education.
Norway holds the Presidency of the Mine Ban Treaty this year, and will use it to increase attention on measures to prevent new casualties from landmines and other explosive remnants of war.
Children, young people, displaced populations and refugees are particularly at risk. Mine risk education and targeted information campaigns are badly needed.
I am proud to co-host this event with UNICEF and UNMAS.
During our Presidency, we will seek to join forces with you and other UN agencies to broaden the scope of mine risk education and promote mine action to increase the protection of affected populations.
We need the experience and leadership of mine-affected states if we are to succeed.
I am proud to present my co-hosts, the distinguished Permanent Representatives from Mozambique, Cambodia and Iraq, who will share with us their perspectives on the challenges associated with landmine contamination.
First, let me give the floor to UNICEF’s Director of Programmes, Ted Chaiban.
UNICEF is the lead UN agency for promoting mine risk education, assisting landmine victims, especially children, and supporting the reintegration of victims into schools and communities.