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Cambodia: nation hosts milestone international meeting in the battle against landmines
28 November 2011

Clearance personnel walk by mines found during a day of work in Sri Lanka. Landmine & Cluster Munition Monitor, February 2011. (Sean Sutton/Mines Advisory Group)
The week-long Mine Ban Treaty meeting will review a range of treaty compliance issues, including the threat posed to the emerging norm by new landmine use in countries including Israel, Libya, and Burma.
Phnom Penh, 28 November 2011– Leading members of the international community are gathered in Cambodia - the cradle of the anti-landmine movement - to push for progress in reducing the harm still caused by anti-personnel landmines.

The Eleventh Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty (11MSP) – which 80 per cent of countries have joined - begins today in Phnom Penh.

"My country is sometimes called the Country of Wonder, and this week we want you to make wonderful things happen", said Cambodian landmine survivor Song Kosal, JRS staff member and Youth Ambassador for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), at last night's official opening ceremony.

"We want this meeting to be the best and most practical one yet in the convention's history, and show how the international community is going to work together to make our dream of a mine free world a reality in our lifetime", she added.

Representatives from many of the 158 governments that have joined the treaty are expected to attend, as well China, Lao PDR, United States, Vietnam, and other observer delegations from the 38 states that have not joined the treaty.

An ICBL delegation of more than 270 campaigners from 61 countries, including dozens of landmine survivors, is participating in the meeting.

Already the 11MSP promises to begin with good news. On Friday 25 November the Finnish parliament approved a government proposal to join the Mine Ban Treaty in 2012. Poland, the only other European nation outside the treaty, is also on track to ratify in 2012.

“With this meeting in Cambodia, the campaign to ban landmines is returning to its origins”, said JRS Asia Pacific Communications Director Oliver White.

The discovery of a number of unexploded devices in a small village in northwestern Cambodia two weeks ago really brings reality home. 

"Despite the huge progress in eradicating antipersonnel mines in Cambodia, this is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world and there is still a long way to go”, added Mr White.

Cambodia is still one of the most mine-affected countries in the world, but an extensive mine action programme established in 1992 has resulted in a dramatic decline in the number of new mine victims. Lives continue to be lost, however. There were at least 286 Cambodian mine, explosive remnants of war (ERW), and cluster munition remnants casualties in 2010.

The week-long Mine Ban Treaty meeting will review a range of treaty compliance issues, including the threat posed to the emerging norm by new landmine use in countries including Israel, Libya, and Burma.

Among the issues to be addressed by the meeting is news that five mine-affected states parties (Algeria, Chile, the Democratic Republic Congo, Republic of Congo, and Eritrea) have indicated they will not be able to complete clearance of their mined areas within the 10-year treaty-mandatory deadline, and have requested deadline extensions for the meeting to consider.

Delegates will also discuss the fact that four States Parties (Belarus, Greece, Turkey and Ukraine) have missed their treaty-mandated four-year deadline for destroying their landmine stockpiles and are still in violation of the treaty.

Notes to the editor

Up until the 1990s, antipersonnel landmines were used by almost all the world’s armed forces, in one form or another. Thanks to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, landmine use has dramatically dropped. Today, although the weapon is only used in a handful of conflicts, it continues to pose a significant and lasting threat.

The treaty comprehensively bans all antipersonnel mines, requires destruction of stockpiled mines within four years, requires destruction of mines already in the ground within 10 years, and urges extensive programmes to assist the victims of landmines.

In 1994, JRS helped establish the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), to accompany those injured by landmines, help survivors tell their stories, promote solid ethical reflection and support national campaigns.

The awarding of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize to the Campaign gave a boost to the many tireless JRS staff who participated in the campaign. Tun Chunnareth, who has worked with JRS Cambodia for years and is himself a landmine victim, has been a prominent spokesperson for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. It was he who accepted the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on behalf of the campaign. JRS continues to lobby for the signing and ratification of the Mine Ban Treaty by other countries.

JRS works in more than 50 countries around the world. The organisation employs over 1,200 staff: lay, Jesuits and other religious to meet the education, health, social and other needs of 500,000 refugees and IDPs, more than half of whom are women. Its services are provided to refugees regardless of race, ethnic origin or religious beliefs.

For further information on the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) see 

For further information on the involvement of JRS in international campaigns see

To read about the recent discovery of explosive devices near a school in Cambodia, see

For media enquiries contact

Oliver White
JRS Asia Pacific Regional Communications & Advocacy Officer
Tel: +66 2 640 9590,

James Stapleton,
Communications Coordinator
Jesuit Refugee Service (International Office)
Tel: +39-06 68977468 Fax: +39-06 6897 7461

Press Contact Information
James Stapleton
+39 06 6897 7465