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1998 | 50th Regular Session of the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights

The vital importance of ratifying and implementing the Ottawa Convention on the prohibition of anti-personnel landmines

August 3 – 28, 1998
Palais des Nations, Geneva

Franciscans International and the Dominicans welcome the pioneering role of the Sub-Commission on the question of land mines. By adopting resolutions 1995/24, 1996/15 and 1997/33 urging for a total ban on production, stockpiling, transfer and use of land mines, this body has endorsed and supported the on-going fight of the civil society against those weapons. Since the first Sub-Commission resolution, new signs of hope and recognition have emerged, namely the adoption of the Ottawa Treaty in December 1997 and the Nobel Peace Prize with which the International Campaign to Ban Land mines was awarded last year.

The 129 States which have signed – and among these the 32 which have ratified – the Convention on the Prohibition on the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on their Destruction (commonly referred to as the Ottawa treaty) have taken an important step towards resolving the humanitarian crisis caused by these weapons.

While the Ottawa Treaty is a remarkable achievement, much remains to be done if the global landmines epidemic is to be successfully addressed. The Treaty has been endorsed by a large number of governments, but signing it only reflects the political commitment of the signatory State to be bound by it in the future. Every such State must now take action at the national level for the treaty to become legally binding upon it. In addition, in order to reduce the threat that anti-personnel land mines represent for civilians, States must ensure that the obligations contained in the treaty are fully implemented. Putting an end to the scourge of land mines is a process which will require concerted and long-term action.

A State party will have to adopt appropriate legal, administrative and other measures to prevent and punish any prohibited activity by persons or on territory under its jurisdiction or control. Moreover, organizations and corporations involved in the development, production, sale and transfer of anti-personnel mines must also be notified to ensure their compliance.

People who survive landmine explosions usually face a dismal future. In addition to the immediate medical treatment and physical rehabilitation they require, they are likely to suffer psychological trauma and have difficulty in finding employment. Franciscans International and the Dominicans are committed to environmental justice, which helps to discern the destructive nature of land mines and to actively work to eliminate their use. In fact, the land-mine debate is not simply about military strategy : it addresses the socio-economic nature of a specific weapons trade which kills thousands of civilians annually while depriving millions more of access to land and resources. Therefore, we welcome that under the terms of the Ottawa Treaty, each State Party in a position to do so has a duty to provide assistance for the care and rehabilitation of the mine victims, including social and economic integration.

Franciscans International and the Dominicans urge:

  • all States which have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Ottawa Convention to Ban Landmines as adopted in December 1997,
  • all States to modify, where necessary, their legislation according to the wording of the Ottawa Convention, in full respect of its articles and spirit, including the clause prohibiting any reservation to the Convention.
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