Geneva - 27 February 2003 -

Mr. President,

Please allow me to begin by congratulating you upon assumption of the Presidency of CD and expressing the assurances of the full cooperation and support of my delegation, particularly in the sustained efforts of reaching thwe long awaitwd agreement on the Program of Work.

Mr. President,

II am taking the floor on behalf of Romania and Switzerland, in our current capacity of Co-chairs of the Standing Committee for Stockpile Destruction in order to add our voice to the address of Ambassador Jean LINT of Belgium on the upcoming Fourth Anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention on the Prohibition of Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfers of Anti-Personnel Mines and Their Destruction.

This Anniversary has a special significance for the State Parties, since it is a landmark in the implementation of a fundamental obligation of the instrument, namely the destruction of anti-personnel stockpiles. March First this year is the deadline for completion of stockpile destruction for those State Parties that made possible the entry into force of the Convention. We would like to take this opportunity to thank them all for their leadership and contribution in providing legal force to the Ottawa Convention, as well as for their standing efforts to comply with the stockpile destruction deadlines.

Mr. President,

The Anti-personnel Mine Ban process has been growing steadily since the entry into force of the Convention almost four years ago and we expect the preparations for the 2004 Review Conference to further boost our endeavors. This very positive and encouraging process has been made possible through the commitment and joint efforts of all participants to eliminate the plague of anti-personnel mines. Because of their faith in the core humanitarian objectives of the Ottawa Convention, because of their determination to ensure a better life for the victims of anti-personnel mines and because of their concern about the real barriers to social and economic development of human settlements in the mine affected countries.

Stockpile destruction is a preventive measure aimed at eliminating the proliferation of anti-personnel mines. While a very technical matter per se, this year stockpile destruction gains an important political dimension, for our whole community of States. It is not only a matter of compliance to an international legally binding document, but also a test of the commitment undertaken by the States Parties, as well as for those countries not yet party to the Ottawa Convention but who share the concerns regarding the long term negative impact that anti-personnel mines bear upon the safety of innocent civilians and upon sustainable development.

We are happy to see, at this important juncture, that stockpile destruction is treated with the highest responsibility by the States Parties. We had confirmation of this fact during the recent meeting of our Committee, which enjoyed a high level of participation both in the room and in the debates.

As Ambassador Lint has indicated, the compliance rate of the Convention is extremely impressive, as all but one State Party with a March 1st deadline have indicated that they will no longer possess stockpiles on that date. Moreover, an important number of countries have expressed their intention to conclude their national stockpile destruction earlier - some significantly earlier - than the 4 year period provided for by the Convention.

Other participants informed us about the difficulties they encounter in this process, and in some cases requested further support from the donor community. This we see as a telling expression of the true spirit of open cooperation and partnership that defines the Ottawa Convention process.

A special word of appreciation goes to those participating delegations to the stockpile standing committee meetings, which, while not yet full fledged States Parties to the Convention, provided detailed information on the level and composition of their anti-personnel stockpiles and their plans for destruction. I would like to congratulate them for their constructive and responsible attitude and we all look forward to welcoming them soon to our community.

Mr. President,

Since I have the floor, please allow me to briefly refer to the issue of Small Arms and Light Weapons, and to inform you and the participants to this meeting that, at the beginning of this week, from February 24 to February 26, 2003, Bucharest was the venue of a Regional Seminar on the implementation of the OSCE Small Arms Document and the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.

The event was hosted by the Government of Romania and co-sponsored by the Governments of Canada and Italy and is intended as regional contribution to the 2003 UN Biennial Meeting of States.

The main objective of the regional seminar was to bring together representatives from government and non-government sectors involved in the field of small arms, as well as, representatives from the international organizations and producers. The proceedings focused on the issues of marking and tracing and the relevant contribution of this activity to import-export and transit controls. It gave also an opportunity to the participants to:

  • Share information on the implementation of the UN Programme of Action and the OSCE Small Arms Document;
  • Identify best practices in marking and tracing and export controls;
  • Identify areas that would benefit from establishment of international standards and of ways and means to enhance the framework of cooperation at regional and international level for combating illicit trafficking of small arms.

    The need to shape and enforce coherent regulations for the activity of the brokers was discussed and underlined, and particular attention was given to the link between transnational crime and illicit trafficking of small arms in the region.

    Mr. President,

    Allow me also to take this opportunity to express the appreciation of my Government to Ambassador Kuniko Inoguchi of Japan and Ambassador Rakesh Sood of India for attending the Bucharest Regional Seminar on Small Arms and for their important contribution to the proceedings of this reunion.

    Thank you, Mr. President.

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