Media Center

Press Release


  September 15, 2003

Chile’s Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Esteban Tomic, and OAS Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi signed a framework agreement for cooperation and technical assistance for the destruction of the South American country’s stockpiles of anti-personnel landmines.

Under the agreement, the General Secretariat of the OAS will provide support to destroy the stockpiles, supply specialized material and secure international funding for mine-clearing operations in Chile. Funds have already been contributed by the government of Canada.

Expressing his government’s appreciation during a signing ceremony at OAS headquarters in Washington today, Ambassador Tomic said this mine-clearing program underscores the relevance of the OAS in dealing with the most pressing security problems in the hemisphere and reaffirms the importance of strengthening international cooperation to tackle these challenges more efficiently. The Ambassador added that Chile will complete the destruction of its anti-personnel landmines two years ahead of the schedule provided for in the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, also known as the Ottawa Convention.

Ambassador Tomic thanked the Canadian government, and appealed to donor countries to continue contributing so that this important initiative would help achieve the OAS General Assembly goals of making the Americas a landmine-free zone.

The Assistant Secretary General noted that OAS cooperation and technical assistance has helped to destroy “more than 650,000 mines that have been stockpiled in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru.” He said the number of landmines destroyed in Chile would soon be added, representing another step towards a hemisphere free of anti-personnel landmines.

Einaudi cited other countries that have benefited under the OAS Mine Action Program, noting how Costa Rica was declared “mine-free” in December 2002, while Nicaragua has destroyed some 70 percent of its anti-personnel mines. He said Honduras hopes to complete mine-clearing operations over the next few months.

Canada’s Ambassador to the OAS, Paul Durand, said after the signing that the agreement “shows that the hemisphere is still 100 percent committed to moving ahead with the total elimination of landmines in this hemisphere.” He went on to hail the move by Chile, saying that country’s efficiency in dealing with their mines stockpiles “gives courage to all our countries.”

Last month the OAS observed the destruction of 59,192 landmines stockpiled in Chile’s Santa Cruz region, near Calama.

On December 3, 1997, Chile signed the Ottawa Convention, which bans the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. Chile ratified the Convention on November 10, 2001.

Through the Assistance Program for Demining in Central America and the Comprehensive Action against Antipersonnel Mines program, the General Secretariat of the OAS has been providing material and technical assistance to member states for more than 10 years, with the support of the Inter-American Defense Board.

Reference: E-177/03