Sri Lanka became the 163rd state to sign the Ottawa Treaty, a UN anti-personnel mine ban convention. By joining the convention, Sri Lanka has agreed to destroy all stockpiled anti-personnel mines it owns and/or controls under its jurisdiction within four years. The country must also continue its efforts to clear the devices and assist victims. (Over 21,000 people were killed or injured by landmines during the war, according to Landmine Monitor.)
The Sri Lankan Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, H.E. Ravinatha Pandukabhaya Aryasinha, said in his speech at the First International Pledging Conference for the implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty that to date, 64 square kilometers (24.7 square miles) of mine fields remain contaminated. NGOs such as The Halo Trust, Mines Advisory Group, and DASH have already helped remove thousands of landmines.Sri Lanka has developed a plan for the period of 2016 to 2020 aiming to make the country ‘mine threat free’ by the year 2020.
It’s an important step toward recovery from the country’s 26-year long civil war, a conflict that claimed upwards of 80,000 lives, displaced an estimated 280,000, and left the Northern and Eastern regions covered in landmines.
Now that Sri Lanka has signed the treaty, India, Nepal, and Pakistan are the only countries in Southeast Asia to remain outside the ban. The country has also announced that it started consultations in order to join Protocol V of the Convention on Conventional Weapons.
Courtesy of icbl.org