NZ Key Player in Landmine Ban

  • Don McKinnon
Disarmament and Arms Control

New Zealand is among countries leading the way in the fight to rid the world of land mines as Deborah Morris, Minister of Youth Affairs, signs an international treaty banning anti-personnel land mines in Ottawa, Thursday morning (6am NZT), Minister of Disarmament, Don McKinnon, said today.

More than 100 countries are expected to sign the Ottawa Treaty which is the result of months of negotiations between a vast number of countries opposed to the continued use and production of land mines.

"From the outset New Zealand has been a strong supporter of the Ottawa process and at the centre of these negotiations," Mr McKinnon said.

"We will continue to encourage as many countries as possible to sign the Treaty which goes a long way to ridding the world of a horrible and indiscriminate weapon leaving thousands of innocent victims maimed and limbless every year."

Mr McKinnon said signing the Treaty was another notch in New Zealand's belt in terms of our efforts to achieve an international ban on land mines.

"New Zealanders can be proud of our efforts. The active roles we play both at the coal face where our soldiers are considered to be among the most skilled de-miners in the world, and in negotiating this Treaty, sees us hold our heads high in the international community."

Mr McKinnon said New Zealand would need to consider combined defence operations, such as peace keeping, with countries who have not yet signed up to the ban.

"We need to ensure New Zealand can continue to play its part in these types of operations without breaching the ban," he said.