Anti-personnel mines banned across EU

The Ottawa Convention, which bans the use, production, stockpiling or transferring of anti-personnel mines, was accepted by Poland on June 1, making the Convention binding across the European Union.

"The European Union is united to end the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines," Head of Disarmament of the European Union delegation to the United Nations in Geneva Andas Kos said. "Together we will continue to comply with our obligations under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and provide leadership and resources to clear mined areas, destroy stockpiles and assist landmine survivors."

Poland's acceptance to the Convention makes the EU the first regional organization to gain a unanimous commitment to the Convention. Convention President, Ambassador Matjaz Kovacic of Slovenia, hopes other regional organizations will follow its lead.

"I encourage other regional organizations to follow the EU lead, which is indeed possible, particularly in the Americas and Africa, where all but a handful of States remain outside of the anti-landmines movement," Kovacic said.

There are now 161 States Parties to the Convention worldwide. In the Americas, the only nations to decline the terms are the U.S. and Cuba. In Africa, Egypt, Morocco and Libya are the only nations to remain outside of the Convention.

The Convention began by adoption in Oslo in 1997, to later be approved by signature in Ottawa and entered into force March 1, 1999. To date, 25 State Parties have announced they no longer have mined areas and 44.5 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed.