11 August 2015

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President Juan Manuel Santos, with General (r) Oscar Naranjo, meeting with the ICBL Director, Megan Burke and CCBL Director Alvaro Jimenez Millan. ©Juan David Tena - GIS. 10 August 2015.

On 10 August in a meeting with the director of International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), Megan Burke, and the director of the Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines (CCBL), Álvaro Jiménez, His Excellency Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Colombia emphasized Colombia’s commitment to the rapid implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. President Santos highlighted clearance efforts as the best means to prevent new mine victims, alongside efforts to address the needs of victims and fulfil their rights via the national Victim’s Law. As a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty Colombia is committed to complete mine clearance by 2021.

The directors of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines commended President Santos and his government’s efforts for the mine clearance pilot project that was agreed in March 2015 between the Colombian government and FARC guerrillas. The historic mine clearance deal is considered to be a significant achievement to promote the safety and security of the Colombian people and contribute to the country’s broader peace process.

In order to advance fast and effective clearance efforts, the President of Colombia proposed a joint effort between the government and civil society to convene an international forum that would study the last technological developments in de-mining to determine their applicability in the Colombian context.

The director of the Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines, Álvaro Jiménez, informed the President of CCBL’s support to the ongoing de-mining pilot project in the village of El Orejón (municipality of Briceño, Antioquia) together with the Army’s humanitarian de-mining Battalion and explosives experts from the FARC guerrillas, and with the technical support of the Norwegian People’s Aid. President Santos recognized the CCBL’s efforts in working with all partners of the mine clearance pilot project to identify the best location for initial clearance efforts and encouraged the CCBL to continue its contributions to the project.

Jimenez proposed the development of greater national capacity for mine clearance, working in partnership with the military, FARC guerrillas, the CCBL and ELN guerrillas, once the Colombian government starts negotiations with this group. President Santos hailed the collaborative proposal as “heavenly music” to his ears. Megan Burke praised the ongoing efforts on mine clearance and offered ICBL’s support for its continued success. The ICBL and CCBL pressed the President to guarantee the completion of this groundbreaking project and its expansion to ensure that all land will be cleared of landmines.

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Megan Burke, CMC Director with President Juan Manuel Santos © CCBL, 10 August 2015, Bogota, Colombia.

Colombia has been a State Party to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty since 2001. In 2004, Colombia reported the destruction of over 18,500 stockpiled antipersonnel mines. In accordance with the treaty, Colombia is required to complete mine clearance by 2021. Full implementation of the mine clearance deal will be a crucial step for Colombia to meet this deadline.