Yemen to Sign Ottawa Convention [Archives:1997/47/Front Page]

November 24 1997

The Republic of Yemen has decided to sign the Convention on the Prohibition of the “Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and their Destruction” scheduled to take place in Ottawa during December 3-4, 1997. This event comes as the crowning moment for the Ottawa Process – an initiative launched by the Canadian Government in October 1996. “I hope your foreign minister will personally come to sign the Convention,” said Mr. Lloyd Axworthy, Canada’s Foreign Minister, who is well-known for his high-moral politics. The anti-landmines momentum was stepped up in many corners of the world. Starting in Canada, it went to the UN whose General Assembly Resolution A/C.1/51/L.46 of 31st October, 1996, was a landmark. Then Japan picked up the initiative when it hosted the Tokyo Conference on Anti-Personnel Landmines during 6-7 March, 1997. But the breakthrough was at the Oslo Conference (1-19/9/97) where delegates representing 100 states agreed on the text of the Convention. Unfortunately, some of the big violators of the stipulations of the Convention will not sign up. Key among these are the USA, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and North and South Korea. Landmines are a tragic menace to mankind, rightly dubbed as a “crime against humanity’. Since 1939, over 400 million landmines have been laid, and 110 million are estimated to be still in place in 60 countries, waiting to claim new victims – mostly civilians and especially children. A further 100 million are stockpiled, and some 5 million are produced annually. The Convention is supported by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a coalition of some 1000 Non-Governmental Organizations based in Washington DC. This group, represented by Jody Williams, was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts. One of the founding NGOs in this coalition, HANDICAP International, has been actively involved in helping landmine victims in Yemen since 1994. Its Program Director, Laurent Blot, told the Yemen Times, “We are now leading a project at the Rehabilitation Center & Orthopedic Workshop in Taiz.” The Republic of Yemen interacted positively with the Ottawa Process. During 3-4/11/1997, an anti-personnel landmine seminar was hosted by Sanaa to mobilize efforts in the region towards the Ottawa Convention.