Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Colombia: Colombian Vice-President calls for action on landmine victim assistance

Source: Government of Colombia, Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention

Geneva 4 March 2014 – The Vice-President of Colombia, Angelino Garzon Quintero, has called on all States to participate in Bridges between Worlds, a global conference on assisting landmine and other explosive remnants of war victims and survivors in the context of disability rights and other domains.

“The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, or Ottawa Convention, commits us to assist landmine victims but landmine victim assistance is not a world unto itself,” said Vice President Garzon. “We must do more to link our promise to landmine victims with broader international efforts from a human rights perspective.” The Vice-President’s appeal regarding the 3-4 April 2014 Bridges between Worlds conference was made today at the United Nations in Geneva.

“Colombia, as one of the most mine-affected countries in the world, is proud to host all States as well as the world’s leading disabled persons’ organizations, landmine survivor networks, international coalitions of civil society organizations that concern themselves with disability and anti-personnel mines,” said Vice President Garzon. “Working together, we can reinforce bridges like those between the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and disability rights.”

“It is fitting to hold this conference in Colombia,” said Kerry Brinkert, Director of the Convention’s Implementation Support Unit. “It was in Colombia in 2009 that the Convention’s States Parties expressed their resolve that landmine victim assistance should be integrated into broader national policies, plans and legal frameworks related to disability, health, education, employment and other matters.”

Bridges between Worlds is taking place thanks to financial support from the European Union, Colombia and a number of Colombia’s partners. EU support is being provided through a Council Decision that intends to advance the implementation of the Convention’s humanitarian aims. This EU Council Decision has also helped build a bridge between landmine victim assistance and broader disability efforts at the national level in Ethiopia, Peru and Tajikistan.

The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention was adopted in Oslo in 1997, opened for signature in Ottawa the same year and entered into force on 1 March 1999. The Convention was the first disarmament instrument to take into consideration the rights of the survivors of a particular weapon. Since entering into force, millions of square metres of once dangerous lands have been released for normal human activity and over 44.5 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed.