NZ recommits to mine-free world

  • Georgina te Heuheu
Disarmament and Arms Control

New Zealand's objective to free the world of landmines was spelt out in Colombia last week by Disarmament and Arms Control Minister Georgina te Heuheu.

In a statement to the ten-year review of the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty in Cartagena, Mrs te Heuheu said New Zealand had a strong commitment to eliminating the use, anywhere, of landmines.

"New Zealand has helped countries clear landmines on their territory and has also helped landmine victims.

"We intend to continue to play our part."

Over 1,000 delegates were in Cartagena to review progress to reaching the goals of the Ottawa Treaty.

The Cartagena Action Plan, which outlines practical steps to guide mine action efforts over the coming five years, was unanimously adopted. In the company of over 120 other countries, the Minister signed the declaration on behalf of the New Zealand Government.

The Cartagena Declaration reaffirms the importance of freeing the world of landmines, getting all countries to sign up to the Ottawa Treaty and meeting the needs of landmine victims.

Mrs te Heuheu said she was also privileged to visit a small village in the Colombian jungle to see first-hand the devastation caused by mines.

"This was a sobering experience and brought home the full horror of landmines," she said on her return to Wellington.

"I was struck by the enormous security and economic development challenges facing mine-affected communities."

The Minister said New Zealand was doing its part, channelling funding to the UN Mine Action Service and the International Red Cross as well as to specific projects in Egypt, Cambodia and Lao PDR.