Nordic countries on board the landmine ban
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Denmark 5 July announced it had cleared the last of its minefields, a legacy of the second world war, just a few days after Finland’s formal accession to the landmine ban treaty.
Denmark’s 8,000 landmines were left in the Skallingen peninsula during the war, at least 67 years ago, according to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention’s Geneva-based secretariat.
In removing the landmines, Denmark has become the 20th State Party of the 1997 international treaty to fulfill its mine clearance obligations.
The completion ceremony was presided over by Denmark’s Minister of Transport Henrik Dam Kristensen who, along the nearby town’s mayor, detonated the last dangerous objects found during the demining efforts. Kristensen said he was “proud that Denmark had fulfilled its Ottawa Convention commitments.”
Experts have estimated that 1.4 million mines were deployed in Denmark, with most removed between 1945 and 1947.
Skallingen will open to public use again
Denmark undertook the total financial responsibility for demining the delicate eco-system of the Skallingen peninsula where shifting dunes and sand moved the landmines from their original positions making their removal all the more difficult and dangerous. The peninsula, where colonies of rare breeding birds nest, will also be open to residents who until now have not had access due to the dangerous conditions.
Neighbour Finland days before became an official State Party of the Convention, publicly undertaking to destroy all its stockpiled anti-personnel mines.
The Convention, whose party States meet in Geneva later in 2012, was first adopted in neighbouring Norway in 1997 and signed in Ottawa, hence the popular name Ottawa Convention.
Two months ago, the Geneva-based Convention announced that international music superstar Juanes has joined its efforts to call on countries such as the US and Russia to formally ban landmines and to remind the world that weapons often lie dormant, then kill and maim civilians decades after conflicts end.