Geneva: Sri Lanka on Wednesday pledged to accede to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, or Ottawa Convention, expressing hope that the international community will support its ongoing landmine clearance program.
Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Ravinatha Aryasinha announced that Sri Lanka will become the 163rd State party to the convention at the first international pledging conference for the implementation of the convention held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Wednesday.
“I am pleased to inform, that at a meeting of cabinet ministers held early this morning, it was approved that Sri Lanka accedes to the convention on the prohibition of the use, stockpile, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and on their destruction,” Ambassador Aryasinha said.
Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan opening the conference said: “The mine action community has now grown to include thousands of organisations throughout the world and encompassing the UN, civil society, business and of course more states.”
Ambassador Aryasinha speaking at the conference said the Government of Sri Lanka has made mine clearance a priority, given that it is critical to expedite the resettlement and livelihood development in the former conflict-affected areas.
As of date, 2,000 square kilometers of land has been cleared, with the help of donor countries, international partners, and humanitarian and demining units of the Sri Lankan Army, the Ambassador said adding that however 64 square kilometers remain to be cleared.
He said the Government wishes Sri Lanka to be a mine free country by 2020 and the government with the help of GICHD has prepared a strategic plan for 2016-2020. The project will officially be launched on the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on 4 April. The Ambassador requested the potential donors to help Sri Lanka with the implementation of the project.
The diplomat said Sri Lanka being mindful of the tragic circumstances faced by many victims of anti-personnel mine-related accidents, the Government of Sri Lanka has paid special attention to mine risk education and to assist those victims.
“Sincerely thanking and appreciating the assistance and support provided to Sri Lanka by the international partners and donors, we request continued support to successfully resolve the remaining challenges associated with the landmines,” the Envoy said.
The Ottawa Convention adopted on 18 September 1997 and entered into force on 1 March 1999 seeks to end the suffering caused by anti-personnel mines.
By joining the convention, each state undertakes to destroy all stockpiled anti-personnel mines it owns or that are under its jurisdiction or control, not later than four years after the entry into force of this convention.
The states that have not signed the treaty includes a majority of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: China, the United States and Russia.