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February 17, 1999




Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams, who recently toured OAS mine-clearing operations in Central America, today called on all member nations of the Organization of American States (OAS) that have not yet done so to ratify the global treaty banning land mines, which takes effect March 1.

Speaking at a session of the OAS Permanent Council, the Ambassador-at-large for the International Committee to Ban Landmines emphasized that the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, signed in Ottawa, Canada, on December 3, 1997, has been signed by 133 governments and ratified by 64. "In our hemisphere only the United States and Cuba have not signed this important treaty," Jody Williams said.

After pointing out the leadership and commitment of the nations of the Americas in the effort to eradicate land mines in the region, Williams praised the agreement reached by Ecuador and Peru on their border dispute and emphasized both nations’ interest in eliminating the mines in their borders. "Both countries must be involved for this to work," she said.

At the same meeting, Stephen Goose, program director of Human Rights Watch, explained the need to destroy land mines in stock and said that of the 33 nations in the continent that have signed the Convention, 16 have already ratified it. Goose urged the countries to find a way to make the ratification of this treaty a legislative priority.

Other speakers included Dr. George Alleyne, Director of the Pan American Health Organization, the Canadian representative to the OAS, Ambassador Peter M. Boehm, the Mexican Ambassador to the OAS, Claude Heller, and the Chair of the Committee on Hemispheric Security, Ambassador Carlos Portales from Chile.