Friday, July 13, 2012

Burma considering international landmine treaty

Friday, 13 July 2012 12:34 Mizzima News

Burma’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Wunna Maung Lwin said his government is seriously considering all key disarmament treaties including the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, or Ottawa Convention, as part of its state reforms, and he expressed optimism that Burma would positively consider the treaty.

This file photograph shows landmines collected from Burmese army personnel operating in Toungoo District in late 2007.  When departing villages, the soldiers often lay landmines along village paths, in farm fields and plantations and within the village proper to dissuade villagers from returning. Photo: KHRG

Wunna Maung Lwin said Burma's army is no longer using landmines and is seeking a peace pact with armed ethnic groups, which would include banning anti-personel land mines.

However, vast numbers of land mines have been placed throughout ethnic areas by both government and ethnic troops, and soldiers and civilians are still victims of the explosives, as well as animals including elephants.

Wunna Maung Lwin’s comments came during a high-level meeting with the Convention President Prak Sokhonn of Cambodia, during the Asean Foreign Ministers Meeting in Phnom Penh, according to a press release by the group on Thursday.

Burma had never participated in a meeting of the convention. Minister Wunna Maung Lwin said he would ensure that Burma’s Permanent Mission in Geneva attended future meetings of the convention. The next meeting parties to the convention will take place from Dec. 3-7 at the United Nations in Geneva, where over 800 diplomats and land mine experts representing over 100 states are expected to attend.

Prak Sokhonn also expressed the hope that, in addition to Burma, all Asean states that have not yet done so would one day join the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.

“Accession to the convention by yet another Southeast Asian state would help strengthen the international movement to eradicate anti-personnel mines,” said Prak Sokhonn.

Prak Sokhonn also encouraged Burma to survey mined areas, mark hazardous areas, deliver mine-risk education to the public and assist land mine survivors.

“In keeping with the principle of international cooperation, we offer to Myanmar the assistance it may deem necessary, including sending Cambodian experts to Myanmar or providing Myanmar delegations with an opportunity to see firsthand mine action activities in Cambodia,” said Prak Sokhonn.

To date, 160 states have joined the convention and 155 no longer hold stocks of anti-personnel mines.

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