[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan [official profile] on Tuesday called on states to ratify the 1997 anti-personnel mine ban treaty [text] and said that it should only take ten years to rid the world of all land mines will take ten years to complete, not 100 years as previously estimated. Annan's message [text] was made to open the first International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action [UN materials; event listing], designed to promote action among UN member states to aid in the removal of land mines throughout the world.
Land mines are estimated to claim up to 20,000 victims each year, and an unknown number of mines are buried in at least 60 countries, with Cambodia, Afghanistan and Columbia claiming the most victims in 2004. Nearly $400 million was donated in 2004 to aid mine removal, with $100 million coming from the United States. The 1997 Ottawa Convention banned the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of land mines, and has been signed by 150 countries. The United States, Russia, and China have not signed the treaty. Annan spoke with promise Monday, saying that land mine statistics have declined, and the goal of worldwide eradication could be achieved in years, not decades. AP has more. The UN News Centre has additional coverage.