To mark the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier today (4 April) issued the following statement:
"The Ottawa Convention of 1999 and the Oslo Convention of 2008 are important successes in our fight against mines and cluster munitions. However, we cannot afford to slacken our efforts! For this reason, I call on yet more states to ratify these Conventions. We ourselves have done all we can to ensure that parliamentary approval for the ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions will be obtained before the end of this legislative period."
Germany is a party to the Ottawa Convention of 1997 banning the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines, which is widely seen as one of the most successful international arms control agreements. The German Government has staunchly campaigned for the Convention to be rigorously implemented and calls for it to become universal in scope.
The German Government is also one of the world's leading donors to humanitarian mine action. Since 1992 approximately 184 million euro has been made available from the Federal Foreign Office budget for mine action projects in 38 countries around the world. The 18.6 million euro envisaged for 2009 will be used to clear not only landmines but also cluster munitions and other unexploded ordnance left over from various wars. Germany has additionally contributed over 300 million euro to the 1.5 billion euro provided by the European Commission for mine action programmes over the past decade.
As mentioned above, the German Government is also active in the fight against cluster munitions. On 29 May 2008 it unilaterally declared that Germany would henceforth renounce the use of cluster munitions. It signed the Oslo Convention on 3 December 2008. In order to ensure that parliamentary approval for ratifying the Convention is obtained before the end of this legislative period, the Federal Government adopted a legislative bill for this purpose at its Cabinet meeting on 21 January 2009. This bill is currently being debated in the Bundestag.