Govor veleposlanika Thomasa Thomas E. Schultzea u povodu 20. godišnjice Ottawske konferencije 17. 10. 2017. u Zagrebu
Konferencija je održana u organizaciji Regionalnog centra za sigurnosnu suradnju (RACVIAC) i Ureda za razminiranje Vlade Republike Hrvatske u suradnji s Kanadskim veleposlanstvom u Zagrebu te uz potporu Vlade Savezne Republike Njemačke.
Please allow me to start with a question. Two roads in different parts of the world – the one between Kunduz and Taloquan in the Northeastern part of Afghanistan in 2004, the other near the Krka waterfalls in Croatia in 2016: What do they have in common? You’re probably guessing the answer: mines on both sides of the road. And: terrible stories of civilians of all ages and backgrounds, killed, injured, scarred for life or affected by losing their loved ones, their breadwinner or friends.
Whoever came across a sign “Danger – Mines” somewhere in the world will never forget the feeling; this very close and tangible threat insidiously hidden in the ground. The life of so many children, women, innocent people has been until now destroyed by these deadly devices, the long lasting and deadly reminders of armed conflicts and a perfidious business.
I saw young Afghans, barely guarded, doing minesweeping in order to protect their families or the people of the nearby villages and of course their lifestock. Images I will never forget.
All the very brave minesweepers who have risked their life in many parts of the world including this region, Croatia, Bosnia and other countries deserve our utmost respect. We should also remember all those who lost their life while trying to create a safer environment – in Croatia 38 demining specialists were killed since 1996, three recently in 2016.
Ladies and gentlemen, banning anti-personnel landmines required courage and leadership. You, Mr. Axworthy, in 1997 accepted the challenge and received quite some support from many other countries.
Klaus Kinkel the then German Foreign Minister put it this way in 1997 – and I quote: “This is a victory for humaneness over a scourge of humanity. Now we need to get rid of this horrendous stuff!”
Already in December 1997 a total of 122 governments signed the convention in Ottawa, Canada with a further 40 countries joining since. The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines entered into force on 1st of March 1999 and is without a doubt a success story and the backbone for our common effort to rid the world once and for all from this weapon.
The Nobel-Committee in its explanation for awarding the International Coalition to Ban Landmines (ICBL) with the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize stated – and I quote: “The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to express the hope that the Ottawa process will win even wider support. As a model for similar processes in the future, it could prove of decisive importance to the international effort for disarmament and peace.” – That was prescient!
The Ottawa Convention has indeed created a humanitarian disarmament standard that other instruments have followed, particularly its sister instrument the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.
On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Ottawa Convention we should have a closer view on what has been achieved so far. There are some quite impressive figures:
51 Million anti-personnel mines (APMs) have been destroyed so far. Global stocks are under 50 Million and the trade in industrially manufactured APM has practically stopped. Forty-one states have ceased production of APM, including four that are not party. We also managed to universalize the norms of the convention: starting with 122 States Parties that number increased to 162 with some additional states adhering to most of the key provisions without accession.
My own country that had already destroyed its stockpiles of about 1,7 Mio APM before the conventions entry into force.
Moreover the convention mobilized substantial funds to implement the obligations arising from the convention. For example: Germany as one of the major donors contributed some 32 Mio EUR in 2016.
In addition we contribute to the EU’s efforts which amounted to more than 100 Mio in 2016.
This brings me to the things we still need to do:
The last review conference in Maputo 2014 agreed to an action plan 2014-2019 to structure the way ahead. Our common commitment is a world free of APM by 2025. For this to be achieved we need keep working in all the areas:
• Trying to convince other states to join and universalize the norms of the convention
• Re-double our efforts to destroy stockpiles and clear remaining contaminations
• Assure that the needs of victims are met in a holistic and coordinated way taking into account all relevant additional legal instruments such as the Cluster Munition Convention and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
• For that we stand ready to further contribute
Ladies and gentlemen, let me again draw your attention to the roads between minefields. Roads connect villages, people live in these villages, they have children, livestock and want to grow crop, vegetables or fruits. If the Ottawa Convention managed to save the life of only a few people, if it contributed to make life easier and safer for people around the globe it has already done a lot.
It continues to serve as a good example for banning malicious weapons.
However, we should not stop our efforts in making the world a safer place or as Minister Kinkel bluntly put it: “We need to get rid of this horrendous stuff!”
Let me close by thanking RACVIAC for hosting this conference. Germany will continue to support the important activities of RACVIAC in the region. Under the leadership of Ambassador Haydar Berk and his predecessors RACVIAC has established itself as an important institution fostering stability, security and arms control in the region.
Thank you for your attention!