Media Center

Press Release


  November 24, 2004

Representatives of the Organization of American States (OAS) will participate next week in a major worldwide conference on demining, where they will highlight the important advances the countries of the Americas have made in eradicating antipersonnel landmines. More than 200 countries will be represented at the First Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention, which begins November 29 in Kenya.

Key achievements for the countries of the Americas include the destruction of more than one million landmines that had been stockpiled in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Honduras, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.

The Central American region has also made considerable progress in demining. In 2002, Costa Rica became the first country supported by the OAS Mine Action Program to be declared “landmine-safe,” and Honduras was given the same technical designation last month. El Salvador completed its demining process in 1993, in accordance with that country’s peace accords. Nicaragua and Guatemala have also made progress in demining and the destruction of unexploded ordnance, and both countries are expected to conclude these activities in the next two years.

The Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World will be the first follow-up conference since the adoption, in 1997, of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Antipersonnel Mines and on Their Destruction, more commonly known as the Ottawa Convention. The event will examine progress and challenges ahead to complete the goal of eradicating landmines around the world.

The OAS will be represented by a delegation led by William A. McDonough, who coordinates the Mine Action Program. Through this program, the OAS has supported multifaceted efforts, including preventive education, humanitarian demining, destruction of stockpiles, rehabilitation of landmine victims, and development of data bases. The military entity that works closely with the OAS on demining is the Inter-American Defense Board.

During a meeting of the Permanent Council in September, Nicaraguan Defense Minister José Adán Guerra remarked that “mine action does not end with the last mine destroyed or removed, and it should be complemented with concrete programs to support victims who survive these deadly devices.”

The OAS has received more than $27 million in donations for its landmine activities since it began working in this field in 1991. Among the donors that have supported this effort are Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, El Salvador, Guatemala, Italy, Japan, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United States.

Reference: E-216/04