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Conference of disarmament appoint Australian ambassador as special coodinartor of landmines



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MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

•h» AU STRA LIA <45·

FA63 27 JUNE 1997

CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT APPOINTS AUSTRALIAN AMBASSADOR AS SPECIAL COORDINATOR ON LANDMINES

I am delighted to announce that the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva on 26 June unanimously appointed the Australian Ambassador for Disarmament, Mr John Campbell, as its Special Coordinator on Anti-Personnel Landmines (APL).

Mr Campbell’s appointment reflects this Government’s commitment to work through all available means towards the negotiation of an effective, legally binding global ban on anti-personnel landmines.

Mr Campbell’s role as Special Coordinator will be to work with all participants in the CD to facilitate progress towards an effective global ban on landmines. This will involve taking into account the important work being done on landmines through the "Ottawa process", which aims to fast-track the conclusion of an APL ban. Mr Campbell is in Brussels this week attending the conference on anti-personnel landmines being held under that process. The Government is currently considering its position on the Declaration from the Brussels conference.

Australia shares with the other participants in the "Ottawa process" the fundamental commitment to negotiating the best possible APL ban treaty with the widest possible actual and potential adherence. The challenge now is to ensure that a treaty which is concluded

quickly is also effective. To be effective, a ban must include not only those countries which have already embraced the goal of a ban on anti-personnel landmines, but also those which remain to be convinced.

To achieve this goal, it is imperative that the international community use all effective means available to it. To do otherwise - or to fail to involve all countries relevant to the global landmines equation - would be to risk producing a permanent partial solution on landmines. Australia will therefore seek to ensure that the considerable political momentum of the Ottawa process and the treaty making expertise and representativeness of the Conference on Disarmament are brought cooperatively to bear to achieve a truly global and effective solution to the international landmines crisis.

Australia has worked actively over the last sixteen months to build international political support for urgent, effective action to address the appalling humanitarian crisis brought about by past misuse of anti-personnel landmines. On 15 April 1996, the Minister for Defence and I announced Australia’s support for a global ban on anti-personnel landmines and unilaterally

suspended their operational use by the Australian Defence Force. Since then, Australia’s support for de-mining and mine victim assistance programs has more than doubled: it now stands at $18 million, making Australia a world leader in this field. This sort of concrete,

practical contribution to clearing the millions of landmines already laid is, clearly, where the real urgency lies.

ATHENS

For further information contact Innes Willox: 0411 414 695 (mobile) or (06) 285 4866