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Landmine Treaty Ratified by Forty Countries in Record Time

17 September 1998

The global movement to eradicate antipersonnel landmines reached a major milestone when Burkina Faso became the fortieth nation to ratify the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty late last night. The treaty will now enter into force—become binding international law - on 1 March 1999 after a six month waiting period. "It is fitting that this treaty will enter into force faster than any other major treaty in history," said Jody Williams, Ambassador of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). "This accomplishment underscores the urgency of dealing with the global landmine crisis and the strength of the new international standard against this insidious weapon."

The Mine Ban Treaty (formally the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and On Their Destruction) has been signed by 130 nations since last December. Among the forty ratifying thus far are not only nations that led the Mine Ban Treaty negotiations (such as Austria, Canada, Ireland, Norway and South Africa), but also nations that ed to be major producers and exporters of landmines (such as France, Germany, United Kingdom, and Hungary) and nations where mines have been used most extensively (such as Bosnia, Croatia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe). Quick entry into force is vital for the crucial treaty deadlines - destruction of stockpiled mines within four years and of mines already in the ground within ten years - to go into effect.

The ICBL expresses grave concern about reports of the continued laying of mines in a number of countries that have signed but not ratified the treaty, such as Angola, Cambodia, Senegal and Sudan. ICBL condemns the use of mines in non-signatory states such as in Kosovo, FR Yugoslavia. At a recent meeting of the non-aligned movement, the ICBL criticized Cuba, Egypt, India, Iran, Pakistan and Syria -- all non-signatories—for blocking a resolution in support of the ban treaty. Other non-signatories, including China, Iraq and Libya, remain openly hostile to the ban. The ICBL is also concerned that some signatory countries where the U.S. has mines stockpiled have not ratified—Greece, Japan, Italy and Spain. The ICBL believes that it would be a violation of the treaty to permit the U.S. to maintain those mines indefinitely.

"The test of the treaty is the difference it makes to countries where mines have victimized the population," said Tun Channareth, ICBL Ambassador and landmine survivor from Cambodia. "At least eight children and nine adults have died from starvation in villages in Battambang province in the last month. Some villages are heavily mined and others are made up of displaced people who have fled the minefields." The ICBL is placing increased emphasis on mine action and mine victim/survivor assistance initiatives to ensure greater effectiveness of these vital operations.

The ICBL calls on all those governments that have signed the treaty but not yet ratified to do so without delay because to sign but not ratify sends a signal of insincerity and lack of commitment. The ICBL believes that the Mine Ban Treaty provides the framework for the overall solution to the landmine crisis in that it not only bans the weapon comprehensively, it also requires mine clearance and urges mine victim assistance programmes. The ICBL expresses great concern over the lack of adequate resources allocated for humanitarian mine action programmes. While appropriate demining technology would be useful, resources are being allocated for demining technology research and development programmes which do not seem appropriate (practical, affordable and sustainable) to the needs of communities suffering from mines.

The forty governments that have ratified are:

The 130 signatories include: