Fight against anti-personnel mines: the Brussels Declaration is 20 years old
Exactly 20 years ago, from 24 to 27 June 1997, the International Conference on Anti-Personnel Mines was held in Brussels. 97 states then signed the Brussels Declaration. They supported a comprehensive ban on the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines. They committed themselves to their destruction and to the establishment of international cooperation and assistance in mine clearance in the affected countries. Belgium was already advocating for victim assistance to be seen as an essential element in the fight against anti-personnel mines.
The Brussels Declaration of June 1997 marked a decisive step in the process of adoption and signing of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention in Oslo on 18 September 1997 and in Ottawa on 3 and 4 December 1997.
Today, 162 States are Parties to the Ottawa Convention. 85 States have completely destroyed their stocks and 30 of the 61 States that have recognized the presence of mined areas have finalized their demining. Victim assistance was introduced for the first time as an obligation in such a Convention.
20 years later, the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines is a success. However, the number of victims of anti-personnel mines, especially improvised anti-personnel mines, continues to be worrying. Belgium again condemns the use of anti-personnel mines and improvised anti-personnel mines by anyone. To take into account the fate of victims, their family and community is also a priority for our country. Together with the civil society Belgium will retain its commitment.
According to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders, we must stand up more than ever for a mine-free world by 2025, but also for a world without victims of mines. We must also continue to strive for the widest possible application of the Treaty. As always Belgium presents itself as an advocate for the universalization of the treaty along with the support of special envoys HRH Princess Astrid of Belgium and HRH Prince Mired of Jordan and along with the current Austrian Presidency of the treaty.