The 16th Meeting of States Parties to the Anti – Personnel Mines Ban Convention welcomed Sri Lanka on Monday 18th December 2017 as the newly joined 163rd State Party to the Convention, following the depositing of the Instrument of Accession on 13th December 2017 in New York.
“We welcome Sri Lanka to this ever growing movement,” said Thomas Hajnoczi Ambassador of Austria and Head of the Department of Disarmament at the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs who is Presiding over the 16th Meeting of States Parties (MSP) to the Convention held in Vienna from 18-21 December 2017. The meeting also coincides with the 20th Anniversary of the signing of the Convention.
Mrs. Priyannee Wijesekara, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Austria, who is heading the Sri Lanka delegation to the 16MSP presented the 16MSP President with a copy of its Instrument of Accession to the Convention during the opening ceremony on Monday 18th December.
In her intervention under the General Exchange of views Ambassador Wijesekara said that as a country and people that have faced the harrowing ordeal of the absolute terror and the indiscriminate nature of these weapons, Sri Lanka made mine clearance and mine-risk awareness, priorities with the goal of creating a ‘mine and Explosive Remnants of War free environment’ that would facilitate resettlement and development, long before acceding to this Convention.
“Although we are the youngest State Party to the Convention, having deposited the Instrument of Accession just a few days ago, mine clearance was made a priority in my country 15 years ago in 2002, with the launch of the National Mine Action Programme,” Ambassador Wijesekara said.
“We are pleased, Mr. President, to inform this forum that we have succeeded in clearing 98% of the contaminated areas in the country,” the Ambassador noted.
“Today, having joined the Convention, we in Sri Lanka join hands with all the other parties to this important Convention, and the dedicated men and women across the world, to devote ourselves as well, to advocate and work towards achieving the objective of a ‘mine free world’, where people can go about their lives without fear of these devastating weapons. We look forward to sharing our experience and our expertise with the international community, in realizing this noble vision,” said Ambassador Wijesekara.
The Convention which will enter into force in Sri Lanka from 1st June 2018, provides a framework for mine action, seeking both to end existing suffering and to prevent future suffering. It bans the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines.
In addition, States that accede to the Convention accept that they will destroy both stockpiled anti – personnel mines and emplaced anti-personnel mines respectively within 4 and 10 years of accession to the Convention, and assist the victims of landmines.
The delegation of Sri Lanka to the 16th MSP also included Major General G.D.I. Karunarathne, RSP psc -Sri Lanka Army, Colonel P. T. Paranagama- Sri Lanka Army and Ms. Irosha Cooray, Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka in Vienna.