South Sudan joins anti-personnel mine convention

14 Nov 2011

South Sudan joins anti-personnel mine convention

11 November 2011 - South Sudan has made banning anti-personnel mines one of its first multilateral commitments since becoming independent in July.

The newly formed nation deposited its notification of succession to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, or Ottawa Convention, today at UN headquarters in New York, becoming the 158th state to be legally bound by this landmark
humanitarian instrument.

"Landmine contamination in South Sudan is a grave problem for reconstruction and development, and impedes agricultural activities," said Gazmend Turdiu, the Convention's president.

"By joining the Convention, South Sudan is making a commitment to clear mines on its territory, to assist landmine survivors and to never, under any circumstances, use anti-personnel mines," Mr. Turdiu said.

Landmines in South Sudan are the result of over 20 years of civil war. "All 10 states of the newly formed country have reported mine-related injuries and deaths," noted the UN Mine Action Coordination Centre (UNMACC) in South Sudan.

"Contamination in 306 villages varies in size, from an item that may take an hour or so to destroy, to entire minefields which could take up to a year or more to address," UNMACC said.

As of September 2011, a total of 3,210 injuries and 1,263 deaths had been reported in the country. Since 2005, over 25,000 landmines have been destroyed. To date over 2,700 landmine survivors have received support.

"As a State Party to the Convention, South Sudan has the right to request that other States Parties assist it in demining and in responding to the needs of landmine survivors," said Mr. Turdiu. "We all have a responsibility to support the world's newest state and the Convention's newest party in overcoming these complex challenges."

With South Sudan having joined the Convention, there is near universal acceptance of this landmark treaty in Sub-Saharan Africa, where every country, except Somalia, has joined.

South Sudan likely will be followed by Finland and Poland, which have indicated that they are taking steps to join the treaty. In September, Tuvalu became the 157th State to accede to the Convention.

"We look forward to welcoming South Sudan at the Convention's Eleventh Meeting of the States Parties (11MSP), in Phnom Penh from 27 November to 2 December," Mr. Turdiu said. The meeting is the world's largest annual gathering of diplomats and landmine experts, with over 1,000 participants expected.