war is over and no reason for Sri Lanka not to be a party to the Ottawa Convention
Posted on January 18th, 2010

PRESS RELEASE BY SRI LANKA NATIONAL CONGRESS Gamini Sarath Godakanda Media Sec. For Minister Milinda Moragoda

The newly formed Sri Lanka National Congress, in keeping with its commitment to humanitarian values, advocates that Sri Lanka sign the Ottawa Convention to ban land mines and other cruel weapons such as Cluster bombs. The Sri Lanka National Congress under the leadership of Minister Milinda Moragoda intends requesting the government to review its position on signing the Ottawa Convention on the banning of Land Mines; now that the war is over and humanitarian de-mining is being undertaken, there is no reason for this country not to become a party to the Ottawa Convention.

The Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their destruction completely bans all anti-personnel landmines. The Treaty was signed on 3rd December 1997 and became effective from 1st March 1999. As of May 2009, there were 156 States Parties to the treaty. Two states have signed but not yet ratified while thirty-seven states are not party to the Convention. In 2009, Rwanda became the first nation which claimed to be landmine free. In terms of the Convention or Treaty a party to the Treaty must destroy all the anti personal mines in its possession within four years and within ten years of signing the Treaty the country should have cleared all of its mined areas.

Humanitarian mine clearing in Sri Lanka began in earnest in 2002 and there have been a few thousands of mines found but there remains thousands more; many hundreds of displaced people have been resettled. Another significant achievement has been that no one who has returned to their areas of domicile have encountered any land mines and life has returned to normal for these unfortunate people. However, there remains hundreds of acres of land to be cleared, before people could be resettled and the country declared “ƒ”¹…”mine free’. More resources are therefore urgently needed for mine action and resettlement of the unfortunate people who have been compelled to leave their habitats due to the war and the mines that have been laid as a consequence of it. If Sri Lanka signs the Ottawa Convention, Sri Lanka would have much to gain. Our country would qualify to receive international support for humanitarian mine clearing and also for assistance for victims of mines there would also be support for land mine survivors and their families. We need to ensure that land mines would be banned and that suffering caused by such anti personal mines is put to an end.

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