The Holy See
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Zagreb (Croatia)
28 November - 2 December 2005


Mr President,

I would first like to express my pleasure at seeing our meeting this year taking place in Croatia, a successful example of a dynamic and effective policy in the area of the fight against the scourge of anti-personnel landmines. Croatia is a Central European Country proud of its moral values and moving with determination towards full integration in the European Union.

I would also like to express my Delegation's gratitude for the great effort the Croatian Authorities have made to make this meeting a success. May I also express the pleasure of the Holy See at Austria's excellent work throughout the past year and especially in the personal involvement of the outgoing President, Ambassador Wolfgang Petritsch.

If the ultimate goal of the Ottawa Convention is respect for the security and dignity of the person, the survivors and the victims of anti-personnel mines must be the focus of all our deliberations.

The practical expression of this position on the one hand is to prevent people from becoming victims to them by banning their production and use, the destruction of stocks, mine clearance and the global enforcement of the Convention's obligations; and on the other, to contribute the necessary aid to those who have the misfortune to be victims of anti-personnel mines so that they may recover a dignified place in society.

A dignified place primarily means being properly treated as befits an autonomous and active person who takes part in building a prosperous and supportive society. In the long term, prevention and solidarity seem to us to be the two poles of an effective policy respectful of the people, families and communities affected or potentially at risk.

Through its institutions involved in anti-mine action in dozens of countries, the Holy See is seeking to help restore a maximum return to normalcy for the people affected, such as: school children, students, farmers, workmen, artisans or professionals, fathers or mothers of families, all as full members in the society in which they live. Education and training are the ideal means that lead to social, economic and political reintegration.

Mr President,

One essential feature of our time is interdependence. This reality is true in the context of economics, politics and security, etc., but it is even truer in mine clearance action. The security and development of some people cannot be combined with the instability and endless conflicts of others.

Interdependence needs sincere and effective cooperation. This cooperation is the basis of our Convention's successes. The joint work of governments, United Nations agencies and civil society makes all the difference.

This model must also be applied on the spot in the context of aid to the victims and their total reintegration after an analysis of the situation, from defining appropriate policies to the point of putting the plans adopted into practice.

Interdependence and its corollary of cooperation should be sought, especially at the national level, in the approximately 40 countries where there are thousands of victims. The absence of national solidarity in facing this problem risks in most cases calling into question security, stability and the peace achieved with difficulty.

Taking into account the needs of victims, survivors and communities affected exceeds by far the strictly humanitarian framework. In many cases it is the indispensable condition for the development of the affected regions and sometimes of countries as such.

It is true that every government has a prime responsibility to care for the victims of anti-personnel mines in its own territory; but it is also true that the international community of donor countries and development agencies is responsible for helping the countries affected to prevent injustice and the risk of instability.

The responsibility for protection presupposes, at least ethically, the responsibility to prevent, through special aid for the victims in order to prepare the ground for development, which is the other name of peace.

Consequently, aid for the victims must be part of a policy broader than humanitarian aid. All those involved (NGOs, national government, donor countries, development agencies) must work together with a view to creating conditions for true global development: human, economic, social and political.

Mr President, the victims of anti-personnel mines must not also be victims of discrimination. They do not expect aid for survival but rather the establishment of conditions that will permit their full membership in the societies in which they live and where they will be able to make their own contribution to prosperity and peace, for they are the first to pay the price of anti-personnel mines, in their flesh and in their lives.

Mr President, I thank you.