Press Releases

    6 December 2004

    In Address to Summit on Mine-Free World, Secretary-General Pledges Support in Implementing Strategy for Next Five Years

    He Also Underlines Need to Keep Mine Victims’ Needs Constantly in Mind

    NEW YORK, 3 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s address via satellite link-up to the Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World today, 3 December 2004:

    Thank you, Ambassador Petritsch. I am delighted to see Foreign Minister Mwakwere, as well as Cornelio Sommaruga and Jody Williams, on the podium. I am glad to see youth and survivors with you too.  Good afternoon to you all.

    And may I extend particular thanks to President Kibaki and the Government and people of Kenya for their generous hospitality to the Summit.

    I wish I could be with you in person. But this is the next best thing. I know you’ve been hard at work during this Summit, and that Ambassador Petritsch has something very important to say, so I’m all ears!

    [Ambassador Petritsch presented the Nairobi Declaration to the Secretary-General.]

    Thank you, Ambassador Petritsch, and congratulations on your stewardship of this important Summit.

    Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen and dear friends,

    The Anti-Personnel Mine-Ban Treaty is a remarkable success story in the history of international cooperation. In the five years since the Treaty came into force, real progress has been made:

    -- The number of new victims each year has decreased. 

    -- Trade in anti-personnel mines has nearly halted.

    -- Anti-personnel mines are being used in fewer and fewer countries.

    -- Huge tracts of mine-affected land have been cleared, declared safe and returned to communities for productive use. 

    -- Millions of stockpiled mines have been destroyed.

    -- And nearly three quarters of the world’s countries have ratified or acceded to the Treaty, reflecting an emerging global consensus that these indiscriminate weapons can no longer be tolerated. I congratulate Ethiopia on ratifying the Treaty during the Summit -- the 144th State to do so.

    My friends, this is an impressive record. But there is much more still to be done. Anti-personnel mines still kill and maim innocent people every day and hold back entire communities in working their way out of poverty. Anti-vehicle mines pose a grave threat too. We cannot rest until all landmines are cleared and these indiscriminate weapons banished forever.

    I strongly support the vision you have set forth in the Nairobi Declaration that Ambassador Petritsch has just presented to me. The UN will be your partner in implementing the strategy for the next five years, as laid out in the Plan of Action:

    -- We must persuade more States, including some of the world’s largest, to become parties to the treaty.

    -- We must continue the remarkable rate of progress so far achieved in destroying stockpiles.

    -- We must help poor countries meet their obligations to clear mined areas.

    -- And we must do more to help the victims of landmines to rebuild their lives and support themselves.

    In this context, let me commend the organizers of, and participants in, the Survivors’ Summit. You have reminded us all that the fight against landmines is ultimately about people. So does today’s observance of the International Day of Disabled Persons. We must keep the needs of victims constantly in mind.

    Landmines are a serious problem -- but so are explosive remnants of war. We have to deal with them, too. I’m very glad that an international legal instrument for doing so now exists -- Protocol V to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. I urge all States to ratify it as soon as possible.

    For our part, we at the UN will continue to help in every way we can.  Today, 14 UN agencies, programmes, departments and funds are working in mine action in more than 30 countries.  We will sustain our efforts, and we will do our best to help improve coordination, since each year, more and more organizations are joining this great cause.

    Dear Friends,

    Congratulations on the outcome of this Summit, and on what you’ve achieved so far. Let’s get on with the job of achieving a mine-free world. And let’s not rest until we achieve it.

    Thank you, and best wishes.

    * *** *