Annan congratulates antilandmine activists but warns of continuing danger

In a message delivered by Agnes Marcaillou of the Department of Disarmament Affairs to a meeting in Croatia of parties to the Convention on the prohibition of anti-personnel mines and on their destruction, Mr. Annan said: “After meetings in Africa, Central America and Asia, this week’s meeting in a mine-affected country located in the heart of Europe underscores the magnitude of the problem.”Since the Convention came into force in March 1999, remarkable progress has been achieved, with 147 countries having ratified or adhered to the Convention and most of the States Parties having met their obligation to destroy mine stockpiles, he noted. “Production, sale and transfer of anti-personnel mines have almost stopped. Large mined areas have been cleared. Victims are receiving more and better assistance, rehabilitation and reintegration. A system has been put into practice for assisting the Parties in fulfilling treaty obligations,” he told the sixth meeting of representatives of parties to the Convention.The Convention has given rise to unique cooperation among the States Parties, the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and civil society as a whole. “Rarely have we witnessed the international community so willing to speak with one voice. Rarely have we seen an international partnership so determined to bring an end to human suffering,” Mr. Annan said. “Yet anti-personnel mines continue to kill, maim and threaten the lives of civilians and the long-lasting humanitarian impact of these inhuman weapons continues to deny communities the opportunity to rebuild long after the end of the conflicts,” he added.He called on parties to the Convention to fulfil all of their obligations, including completing the destruction of stockpiles of anti-personnel landmines, clearing mined areas within the deadlines and assisting affected States and victims in need.