Sun, Apr 06, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Government urged to respect treaty banning land mines


A leader in the international cam-paign to ban anti-personnel land mines urged Taiwan on Friday to respect the spirit and rules of a treaty banning the mines, even though the government has not signed it.

Susan Walker, founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), made the suggestion while responding to questions posed by the Central News Agency at a seminar held by the Union for World Health Protection in Geneva, Switzerland.

The ICBL and another of its founders, Jody Williams, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for its efforts to rid the world of mines.

Of the 146 nations that have signed the so-called 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, 132 of them had ratified it as of April 1.

The treaty is aimed at banning the use, production, stockpiling, sale, transfer and export of anti-personnel land mines.

According to the ICBL's Landmine Monitor Report 2002, although Taiwan is not a signatory to the treaty, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) signed a declaration in 2001 to support the anti-landmine campaign.

ICBL members in Taiwan have also advocated legislation banning the use, transfer, production and stockpiling of anti-personnel mines.

Although Taiwan no longer uses, produces or transfers anti-personnel mines, the report said that the current size and composition of the country's stockpile of anti-personnel mines is unknown and that it probably has US-built mines and domestically produced copies of them.

Walker lived in Taiwan with her parents for about six years and has pressed for the government to sign the Mine Ban Treaty even though it cannot be included in the treaty because it is not a UN member.

Walker suggested that the government could still show the international community its willingness to respect the spirit and rules of the treaty and its firm stance in pursuing peace and humanitarian concerns.

Walker also said that Taiwan could follow the example of Belgium in unilaterally banning mines in the country.

Belgium announced a full ban on land mines in 1995.

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