THE HOLY SEE made an urgent appeal to all countries to adopt and respect the Ottawa Convention aimed at banning land mines.
The appeal was made on behalf of the Pope by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations in Geneva, when addressing the second preparatory meeting of the First Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention, held in Geneva.
The review conference will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, from November 29 to December 3. Archbishop Tomasi said that John Paul II will be sending a “special message” to the conference.
Referring to antipersonnel mines, the archbishop said that “mines have made the poor even poorer, victims without hands and feet, children without a future, farmers without land to cultivate, and young generations with a future on their ancestral land and whose only alternative is uprooting and migrating toward an uncertain tomorrow.” The Ottawa Convention entered into force March 1, 1999. Since then, 116 countries have destroyed 31 million land mines. As of February, 141 nations have become parties to the convention.
Archbishop Tomasi described the convention as a “pioneer and efficacious” tool. “The norm established by the convention should be universal in practice, as it translates a humanitarian concern without ambiguities,” he said.
“How many times have we lamented the indiscriminate option for certain arms which have become a source of unjustified distress and suffering instead of being a source of security and protection?” the papal representative asked the participants in the meeting.