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Vatican urges countries to observe Landmines Convention

The Holy See has stressed the importance of adherence to the Ottawa Convention which 141 countries signed five years ago, and the mobilisation of resources to care for landmine victims.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, expressed the Vatican's position at last week's meeting of the Permanent Committee of Experts of the Convention on the Prohibition of Antipersonnel Mines.

The Ottawa Convention involves a commitment for countries to refrain from using landmines, and from producing, storing, or selling them to other countries.

45 countries still have mines buried in their territory that threaten their civilian populations. The United States and some other world powers have not signed the Convention and continue to use landmines.

The Red Cross estimates that between 15,000 and 20,000 people died or were mutilated when stepping on landmines last year. Almost a quarter of the victims (23%) were minors, and a great majority were women or small farmers.

"The Holy See gives capital importance to the Ottawa Convention, to its implementation as a means of prevention, and to its requirement to assist victims of these dreadful weapons," Archbishop Tomasi said.

He added that if the political will or other factors prevent a country from joining the ban on landmines, countries are responsible for "a comprehensive treatment of the tragic consequences mines cause?".

Holy See Calls for Adherence to Landmines Convention (Zenit 15/2/04)

Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations
Edmund Rice Centre backs landmines petition (CathNews 28/10/03)
International Campaign to Ban Landmines (Australia)
The Ottawa Convention and Anti-Personnel Landmines (

17 Feb 2004