Landmines and explosive remnants of war continue to inflict a terrible toll. These indiscriminate weapons cause grievous injuries and death, hamper reconstruction in post-conflict zones, damage the environment, and are an obstacle to socioeconomic and development activities long after conflicts have ended. They clog roads in Afghanistan, Sudan, Cambodia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They block access to schools and to hospitals in Laos, Gaza and Nepal.
But our work in this sector continues every hour of every day -- and it is a success story. Over the past two decades, United Nations assistance in mine action has reached more than 60 countries and territories. In addition to removing weapons, mine action efforts develop local capacity, restore the dignity of survivors and build safe environments for civilians, affected communities and United Nations peacekeepers. Such actions make an invaluable contribution to our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Our mine action work also involves promoting universal adherence to all relevant legal instruments, including the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention, Protocol V on explosive remnants of war, and the Convention on Cluster Munitions the latter will enter into force on 1 August 2010. The Second Review Conference of the Mine Ban Convention, held last December in Cartagena, witnessed a renewed commitment to the treaty and to mine action efforts around the globe.
This work requires constant vigilance, diligence and collective action on many fronts. On this International Day, I salute the mine action workers who brave dangerous conditions and risk their lives in this pursuit. Let us all rededicate ourselves to this life-saving cause so that our children can live on a planet free from the threats caused by landmines and explosive remnants of war.