David Andrews statement on the signing of the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel mines
Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland
Mr. David Andrews, T.D.,
on the occasion of the signature of
The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling,
Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on
Ottawa 3 December
It is with great pleasure that I join so many colleagues here today at Ottawa to honour the results achieved by all who have laboured with unstinting energy during the past year to bring about the conclusion of a global, comprehensive and verifiable Convention banning anti-personnel mines for all time.
I salute Canada's determination and your own personal commitment, Minister Axworthy, to a goal which many considered unachievable, not alone in one year, but indeed in this generation. I also salute the unique and exemplary manner in which this Convention has come about:
- through the force of the appeals of our parliaments and peoples;
- through calls by mine-affected countries and, in a unique degree:
- through the efforts of the non governmental community.
The resultant Coalition and all its members can today stand proud of its achievement.
In its 1997 award, the Nobel Prize Committee has, I believe, captured the debt we all owe to the efforts of the non-governmental community, in particular of the International Committee to Ban Landmines and the inspired leadership of Ms Jody Williams.
Ireland is honoured to have been so closely associated with the "Ottawa Process" and with the other "core countries" that have worked so tirelessly to bring us to this juncture. While celebrating the culmination of the first part of the process, this is only the starting point of our pursuit of a world free of these barbaric devices.
The Convention we are signing, Mr Chairman, contains the requisite multilateral legal mechanisms to oversee the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, transfer and deployment of these devices and their destruction within a defined time frame. This is a Convention with its comprehensive implementation mechanism designed to assure compliance and build confidence as we move forward to universal adherence.
The foremost goal we must set for ourselves after this second Ottawa Conference is the achievement of the rapid entry into force of the Convention and the promotion of its universalization.
Ireland will contribute to that entry into force by to-day depositing its instrument of ratification with the Secretary General.
At Oslo we avoided a cumbersome preparatory mechanism. We must none the less ready ourselves over the next year for implementation.
The development of cooperation and exchange of information between governments, international organisations and non-governmental organisations is necessary if we are to establish priorities for mine clearance efforts and to assess progress towards the elimination of the humanitarian threat caused by anti-personnel mines.
As a contribution to this effort, Ireland will host an international meeting in Dublin in the autumn of 1998, in conjunction with the Government of Canada and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which will produce an experts report to assess the current state of the anti-personnel mine problem as well as progress in mine action.
Sceptics had argued that the Convention negotiated at Oslo would be a mere declaratory instrument, to be re-negotiated in other fora. The reality is, however, that the one hundred and eight nations negotiating at Oslo have concluded a comprehensive and inclusive Convention of universal applicability. It remains for those countries which were absent from the Oslo diplomatic conference to now join the large majority of the world's governments - as some have indeed done in the interim since Oslo - in signing but also in ratifying this Convention. International public opinion will not tolerate for much longer the absence of countries, in particular of significant states from the roll call of States Parties to this most significant instrument for the abolition of lethal devices which serve no military purpose and the use of which or the preparation for the use of which must quickly be deemed unacceptable anywhere by anyone.
The challenge of the Ottawa Treaty, on the one hand is to secure a future free of anti-personnel mines; on the other to address the consequences of the use of anti-personnel mines in the past. This latter challenge is, in the Irish Government's view, a goal which must be pursued alongside the first. The humanitarian challenge has to be met on two levels - we must continue to assist the victims of mines to pick up the threads of their lives and to become independent members of their communities once again. We must also help affected communities to resume normal living through the removal of mines.
These commitments are an integral part of this Convention. Ireland is steadily increasing its funding for mine clearance and victim assistance and in 1997 we have doubled our disbursements in this area. We are committed to a further increase in 1998, subject to the capacity constraints which - I hope - will be considerably alleviated by the work being undertaken here this week at Ottawa and to be followed up in the course of the coming months.Top