04 December 2009

Press Release - For immediate release

Cartagena, Colombia, 4 December 2009 -- Over 1000 activists, survivors and government delegates celebrated the close of the Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World with the announcement that four new countries - Albania, Greece, Rwanda and Zambia - are now mine-free. The Summit closed with more than 120 governments adopting the Cartagena Action Plan, a detailed five-year plan of commitments on all areas of mine action including victim assistance, mine clearance, risk education, stockpile destruction and international cooperation.

"The Cartagena Action Plan provides a clear and concrete roadmap of what is required over the next five years to bring us significantly closer to a mine-free world," said Steve Goose, Head of Delegation of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). "We, as civil society, commit to remain active and engaged to ensure that all of the many declarations of support for the Plan are turned into meaningful actions."More than a decade after he Mine Ban Treaty was first signed, a strong commitment to fully realize the vision of a mine-free world was demonstrated this week by the unprecedented levels of participation by States Parties (including dozens of ministers and other high-level officials), states not party, mine ban activists and survivors.

"It was widely agreed by all involved in the Summit that this unique partnership between governments and civil society is the key factor in the Treaty's success to date and must be continued," said Sylvie Brigot, Executive Director of the ICBL.

Assistance to landmine survivors, their families, and communities figured prominently throughout the Summit. Victim assistance is the area of mine action that has made the least progress in the last ten years.

"When it comes to delivering on promises made to victims, we are still only scratching the surface," said Firoz Ali Alizada, ICBL Treaty Implementation Officer and landmine survivor. "Immense challenges remain to provide comprehensive and timely support to survivors and fully respect their rights."

Australia was the only country to make a specific commitment of mine action funding of AUD 100 million over the next five years. Disappointingly, although there were many political declarations of support made, no other country matched Australia's pledge.Reports on stockpile destruction were also disappointing. Ukraine announced that it would not be able to meet its June 2010 deadline for destroying all its stockpiles, and may need five or more additional years. Belarus, Greece and Turkey, all of which missed destruction deadlines in March 2008, were unable to confirm when they would finish destruction.

"Having four countries in serious violation of the treaty is of great concern to us and is counterproductive to the humanitarian objectives of the Mine Ban Treaty," said Tamar Gabelnick, ICBL Treaty Implementation Director.

Throughout the week, there were many positive announcements by States Parties about being on track to meet their 10-year deadlines for mine clearance including Jordan, Nicaragua, Nigeria and Peru. In less positive developments, Yemen and Zimbabwe stated that they would not meet their clearance deadlines, and Eritrea and Mauritania announced they would need to request extensions shortly. Argentina, Cambodia, Tajikistan, and Uganda asked for and received extensions on their clearance deadlines.Twenty countries that have not yet joined the Mine Ban Treaty-more than half of those still outside-participated in the Summit. The United States for the first time attended a formal meeting of the treaty, and announced that it has initiated a review of its landmine policy. Highlights of the week also included a declaration from youth leaders and a call to action from landmine survivors, representing civil society's most powerful current and future advocates.

"We must never forget that this treaty was created with the hope of alleviating the humanitarian harm caused by landmines. When we discuss deadlines and technicalities related to clearance or stockpile destruction, we must not forget that our ultimate goal is to end human suffering," said Margaret Arach Orech, ICBL Ambassador and landmine survivor. "We believe that meeting the needs and protecting the rights of survivors is a "mission possible."