4 April - International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action
The UN has declared 4 April the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction entered into force on 25 March 1997 in Ottawa. ITF Director Goran Ga?nik explains: "Mines do not differentiate between the foot of a soldier and the foot a child. Mines are the most cost-effective soldiers, causing indiscriminate bloodshed among all races, not choosing among religious beliefs, ethnic origins, gender, language, age, sexual orientation, education or social status. According to data provided by the international organizations between 5400 and 6800 victims of unexploded mines and other UXO are being recorded in the world each year, symbolizing 450 new victims every month or 15 new victims each day. In the last 11 years ITF (with its current 21 employees) has strived to reach the goal of declaring the region of South East Europe free of mine and UXO threat while taking an active part in solving the mine problem in other mine contaminated parts of the world.The answer to the question as to when a mine problem is going to be solved in a country does not depend only on the amount of donations that have been earmarked for that particular country or on a certain predetermined date but largely depends on conscious efforts made by the affected country and the international community towards the elimination of the mine problem."
Slovenia has taken an active part in the Ottawa Process, thus contributing to the success of the initiative for a universal ban of landmines. It has enhanced its reputation as a country that takes a constructive part in international disarmament efforts and contributes its share to international peace and stability. Slovenia's government established in 1998 the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF), whose activities contribute to long-term stability and development in the region. Since that time the ITF has grown into one of the most useful and valuable projects encouraged and implemented by the Slovene government, using its own regular annual donations and the financial assistance of the international community. The ITF has developed a regional dimension and expanded its area of operations from Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was its primary focus, to Albania, Maceodnia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia, Caucasus region (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia), Jordan and Colombia. The initiative of the the President of the Republic of Slovenia expand ITF also to Gaza with the rehabilitation of 20 children under 15 years.
The Convention is a step forward in international humanitarian and disarmament law. It is a historically important document determining the destruction and banning of all categories of conventional weapons; it also determines the time period in which these weapons must be destroyed. To date, 156 countries signed the Convention and 131 countries ratified it.
On 25 March 2003, in accordance with the provisions of the Ottawa Convention, the Slovenian Army destroyed - through its own means, knowledge and technology – its last stockpiles of anti-personnel mines.