04 April 2011

Press Release -- For Immediate Release. Siem Reap, Cambodia, 4 April 2011 - States can only eradicate landmines and the suffering they cause by joining and completely respecting the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, said the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) today, at a workshop in Cambodia to mark the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action."We have returned to the cradle of the mine ban movement to push for progress on the full universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty," explained Kasia Derlicka, ICBL Director. "Our common goal of a mine-free world is within reach, but we must all do more to get there."

Civil society, government and United Nations representatives are gathering in Siem Reap, Cambodia on 4 April to launch the road to the 11th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, which will take place in Phnom Penh in November 2011. Cambodia is an auspicious location for the meeting as it is heavily affected by landmines and has been central to the movement to establish the Mine Ban Treaty. There are four key areas where the ICBL expects to see progress from states at the November 2011 meeting: 1. clearing mined areas, 2. assisting victims, 3. providing the necessary funding and resources, and 4. ensuring universal adherence to the Mine Ban Treaty.

"When governments meet in Phnom Penh this November, we do not want to hear rhetoric or platitudes, but rather what concrete actions they are taking to create a mine-free world," said Tun Channareth, ICBL Ambassador and a landmine survivor from Cambodia. The ICBL and its sister campaign the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), together took the opportunity to call for global adherence to, and implementation of, the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. The need for adherence to both treaties is especially great in South-East Asia, which has been so profoundly marked by the deadly legacy of landmines and cluster munitions.

"Cambodia should join the Convention on Cluster Munitions this year and be the first country in the region to be party to both treaties," said ICBL Youth Ambassador Song Kosal, who is a Cambodian landmine survivor. Cambodia is highly contaminated with cluster munitions, as are Laos and Vietnam. Landmines and cluster munitions still affect the lives of people in around 70 countries across the globe. Clearing all affected areas, a requirement under both treaties, is a critical part of meeting their humanitarian goals. States Parties to both conventions need to improve efficiency in clearance, including by more precisely identifying affected areas. For example, Cambodia is currently conducting a new baseline survey to better understand the extent of its contamination.

Both conventions also require victim assistance to support landmine and cluster munition survivors' efforts to achieve social acceptance, gain meaningful employment and ensure their rights are respected. In addition to enduring physical pain, survivors report that they are faced with a lack of services and job opportunities, limited capacity-building programs and, most importantly, insufficient financial and technical resources for victim assistance. With some 44,000 survivors, Cambodia is one of the states with the largest number of people who have suffered the traumas of landmines and cluster munitions. By fully implementing its National Plan of Action for Persons with Disabilities, which has faltered so far, Cambodia could ensure that survivors receive the support they need to lead dignified lives.

Meeting the challenges of landmines and cluster munitions also requires adequate and sustained support from both national and international sources. Donor states need to commit multi-year funding and to coordinate to ensure all affected states receive required assistance.This year is key for both the landmine and cluster munition treaties. The 11th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty will take place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, from 28 November - 2 December 2011.

The Second Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions will take place in Beirut, Lebanon, from 12-16 September 2011. During these meetings, government representatives will join non-governmental organizations, UN agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross to assess progress made in banning landmines and cluster munitions and in addressing consequences of past use. The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty currently has 156 States Parties. The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions has 108 signatories, of which 55 have already ratified. In addition to comprehensively banning landmines and cluster munitions, both treaties require states to clear all their contaminated areas, destroy their stockpiles of the weapons, and provide assistance to survivors, their families and communities.

More information and interviews: Amelie Chayer, ICBL Communications Officer (In Siem Reap, GMT+7), Mobile: +33 6 89 55 12 81

Background: the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) are global campaigns with members in around 100 countries. The ICBL, recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, is recognized as the driving force behind the achievement and ongoing success of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. The CMC played the key role in the creation of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, and now works for its universalisation and implementation. The campaigns joined in 2011 to form the ICBL-CMC. International Campaign to Ban Landmines: www.icbl.org - Cluster Munition Coalition: www.stopclustermunitions.org - Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor: www.the-monitor.org