Monday, January 23, 2012

Finland signs the Mine Ban Treaty

A European landmine survivor getting fitted for a new prosthetic.

Finland has become the latest country to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) after depositing the required documentation to the United Nations in New York.
Finland now joins 158 other states that have ratified the treaty.
“We warmly welcome Finland to join the majority of countries to have completely banished these indiscriminate weapons,” said Firoz Alizada, campaign manager for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), in a press release.
“We hope other nations will now follow Finland’s lead, particularly Poland, the only European nation not to have fully joined the ban treaty,” said Mr. Alizada.
By ratifying the MBT, Finland will now be obligated to destroy its stockpile of more than one million antipersonnel landmines within four years, as required by the treaty.
However, according to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor (LCMM), Finland plans to retain 16,500 antipersonnel mines for training and research purposes over the next 20 years.
By comparison, Canada retains 1,921 antipersonnel landmines for training purposes, according to LCMM.
"The number of mines Finland is retaining for training purposes is certainly something that concerns the ICBL," said Kate Wiggans, media and communications manager with the ICBL, in an email interview.
Under the MBT, state parties are permitted to keep antipersonnel landmines for training and research purposes, providing they release annual reports on how many mines are used in training programmes.
"The ICBL encourages states to keep no live mines at all since training and research do not necessarily depend on using live mines," said Ms. Wiggan.
"With this number, Finland will have more mines retained for training than any other state party to the treaty. We are hopeful that now that Finland will be actively participating in the MBT process, they will discuss with other states how they are using mines for training and research and will realize that they in fact don’t need that many at all," she added.
A spokesperson with the Finnish Embassy in Ottawa confirmed that Finland would retain the stipulated number of landmines over the next 20 years, but said that number would decrease year by year.
He also said Finland considers retention of landmines necessary for the development of and training in, landmine destruction techniques.
Finland is a significant sponsor of humanitarian mine action. In the last five years, Finland has contributed almost C$32 million towards landmine clearance and related goals.
To see a list of states that have not ratified the MBT, click here.

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