Wien, 4. December 2009 Press release

Spindelegger on anti-personnel mines: “No reason to signal all clear, despite progress”

Foreign Minister on Anti-Mine Convention Review Conference in Cartagena

Vienna, 4 December 2009 – “The global fight against anti-personnel mines can ultimately only be won through joint commitment. Joint commitment means willingness by the donor community to provide support. But it also means that the states affected also have to shoulder their share of responsibility. And it means that much remains to be done by the community of states before the convention is fully implemented,” stated Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger to mark the Second Review Conference of the Convention banning anti-personnel mines in Colombia.

“I welcome the fact that the focus of this conference is on mine victims and survivors and that it was possible to include an improvement of victim assistance in the action plan. This is also a success for Austria: we called for this step from the very beginning, pointing out the remaining shortcomings in victim assistance by means of the “Voices from the Ground” study,” Spindelegger continued.

The Foreign Minister expressed his appreciation at the USA’s first-time participation as an observer and its announcement that it would examine its stance on the anti-mine convention. The USA has not signed the convention thus far, although alongside the EU it is the largest donor to projects aimed at the elimination of land mines. “Despite positive progress there is, however, no reason to signal the all clear,” emphasised Spindelegger. “Ten years after the entry into force of this Convention thousands of people are still becoming victims of these cruel weapons. We must continue to pursue a still more vigorous implementation of the Convention. In this context I should also like to express my special thanks to the representatives of civil society, particularly our Austrian NGOs, for their persistent commitment,” Spindelegger went on.

A better implementation of the Convention required a clear political commitment. In this context the Foreign Minister referred to Resolution 1894, adopted by the UN Security Council under Austria’s chair, which calls upon the international community of states to protect civilians from land mines. “For the first time, the Security Council recognised the necessity of providing support for the victims’ care and rehabilitation as well as for their economic and social reintegration,” said Spindelegger.

The Austrian mine action programme had been supporting the fight against anti-personnel mines for ten years now. “We must not leave the mine-contaminated countries to themselves. For this reason we earmark some 1.5 billion euros annually for concrete projects, primarily in South-Eastern Europe and Africa. They focus in particular on the rehabilitation of land mine victims, the raising of awareness and training programmes on independent mine clearance,” concluded the Foreign Minister.

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