Vatican Reiterates Call for Elimination of Antipersonnel Mines

Urges Adoption of Ottawa Convention

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GENEVA, SEPT. 19, 2002 ( The Vatican appealed to the international community to eliminate and prohibit antipersonnel mines, which cause 20,000 deaths a year.

The appeal was made by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the Vatican’s permanent observer at the U.N. office in Geneva, during the fourth meeting of countries that have ratified the Ottawa Convention.

The archbishop urged all the countries to adopt the convention in order to eliminate the 230 million lethal mines that are still in existence and to prevent their future production and use.

The Geneva meeting, being held through Friday, is examining the state of the convention, adopted in Canada five years ago. To date, 144 countries have either signed or ratified the convention, the latest being Afghanistan.

Most of the mines being used, however, are in countries not covered by the convention.

The challenge for the convention’s promoters — John Paul II being among the most persistent — is to convince those countries that are among the principal producers, such as the United States, Russia, China, Pakistan, India and Cuba.

«Any delay or weakening of enthusiasm in the full implementation of the Ottawa Convention will only mean more and more loss of life, more and more victims,» Archbishop Martin said during the meeting.

«In this era of interdependence, it is no longer tolerable to condemn, through inaction, entire populations to live in fear and precariousness,» he added.

«We need to repeat that antipersonnel mines do not offer a future of security and peace,» he said. «On the contrary, they perpetuate insecurity and delay the search for a just peace among nations and peoples.»

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