The European Commission has adopted a strategy to fight anti-personnel landmines worldwide, supported by a budget of €140 million. The strategy, which will run from 2005-7, aims to reduce the anti-personnel landmine threat; to alleviate mine victim suffering and aid socio-economic reintegration; and to enhance local and regional mine action capacity. The adoption of the strategy coincides with the First Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty in Nairobi (29 November – 3 December), where the External Relations Commissioner will address the participants by video, and with the International Day of Disabled Persons (3 December).
Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said “The First Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty is a time to take stock of the progress that has been made on this devastating issue. As we publish our strategy for the next two years, I am mindful of the enormous task ahead to eliminate the threat of anti-personnel land mines, but am confident that with further time and political commitment this is not a mission impossible. ”
The Commission strategy will govern the programming of EC funds over the period 2005-2007 on landmine action. The main objective of the strategy is to assist countries that suffer from the presence of landmines and unexploded ordnance and to restore the conditions necessary for the security of their populations and their economic and social development. It also aims to reduce the current risk of further victims as far as possible. This will be a significant step towards attaining the target of zero landmine victims which underpins the Commission’s strategy.
To achieve this goal, the Commission offers increased assistance to states party to the Mine Ban Treaty, rewarding the commitment to destroying stockpiles and clearing landmines, and giving a major incentive to others to accede. Populations of non-party states are protected through massive operations of mine ban education, fencing and marking, and victim assistance.
In the five years since the Mine Ban Treaty came into force (1999), the European Union has devoted more than €700 million to eliminating the threat of anti-personnel landmines. The Commission welcomes ratification by Ethiopia on the first day of the Nairobi conference, which brings the total number of signatory states to 144.
The DG RELEX production team is producing a short video entitled “To Walk
Free of Landmines in Africa” which will be released later this week. This is a
“free to air” Production. For copies, please liaise directly with Neal Boyle (NealBoyle@esras.com).