Media Center

Press Release


  January 31, 2008

Organization of American States (OAS) member countries reaffirmed their collective commitment to the goal of a world free of anti-personnel landmines, as they marked the tenth anniversary of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction. Commonly known as the Ottawa Convention, the international treaty was opened for signature on December 3, 1997, in Ottawa, Canada.

“Ten years later, there is much to celebrate,” Canada’s Ambassador Graeme Clark told Member State ambassadors during a regular OAS Permanent Council session at which Panama’s Ambassador Aristides Royo presided. The Member State ambassadors spoke out, stressing their governments’ support for the conventions that bans the deadly devices, and they lauded OAS initiatives through the Comprehensive Mine Action Program (AICMA) and the Inter-American Defense Board.

Among accomplishments highlighted, Ambassador Clark noted that 156 countries have so far joined the Convention, while “numerous states not party and several non-state actors have adopted its norms.” He detailed a significant reduction in the number of direct victims, to fewer than 15,000 per year; at least 38 states ceasing production of anti-personnel landmines; a virtual ending of international trade in this weapon, as almost 40 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed while vast tracts of land have been cleared and returned to use; and many thousands of landmine survivors have been rehabilitated and reintegrated into their societies as full, productive members.

Stating that Canada remains committed to a lead role in mine action, Ambassador Clark underscored the challenge given that more than 80 countries are still affected by an estimated 100 million of the deadly landmines. “And there are thousands of new casualties each year,” the Canadian diplomat asserted, adding that the 39 states yet to accede to or ratify the convention collectively have an estimated 160 million to 180 million mines stockpiled.

“Mine-action initiatives provide conditions for safer living environments, increased protection from the scourge of landmines and rehabilitation for landmines survivors, demonstrating our real commitment to improving the security equation in the region,” Clark said, while calling the OAS’ strategic approach to mine action “a model for other regional organizations.”

Remarking on the significance of the tenth anniversary of the Ottawa Convention, Colombia’s Ambassador, Camilo Ospina, spoke of initiatives by country, where some 1,100 persons per year become victims of anti-personnel landmines planted by illegal armed groups. Ambassador Ospina also thanked the OAS and donor countries that have helped the Colombian government in its efforts against landmines.

Reference: E-020/08