The forthcoming conference will be one more step in the implementation of the action plan that the Ottawa Convention signatories have adopted with a view to destroying antipersonnel mines and securing a ban on their use, accumulation, production and sale. Delegates to the Dushanbe forum, who represent both member and non-member states, will discuss the various aspects of the struggle against antipersonnel mines in Central Asia.
The conference will bring together officials from former Soviet republics in Central Asia, China, Afghanistan, the UN, the OSCE, NATO, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, and diplomatic missions accredited in Tajikistan. Queen Noor of Jordan is expected to attend as a UN good-will ambassador.
According to Parviz Mavlonov, deputy director of the Tajik Center for Landmine Issues, about 200 people have been killed and 100 others wounded by antipersonnel mines in Tajikistan, including near the Tajik-Afghan border, over the past decade.
In keeping with the Ottawa Convention, Tajikistan has destroyed over three thousand antipersonnel mines by now. But a lot of such mines still remain planted in the eastern part of the country, leading to civilian deaths and hindering the development of regional infrastructure. An estimated 12 million dollars is needed to rid Tajikistan of its landmines, Mavlonov says.
Tajikistan became the scene of a bloody civil war in the early 1990s as the Opposition took up arms to turn it into an Islamic republic. Russian and Iranian mediators eventually brokered a truce, which grew into a lasting peace, with the Opposition militia joining the republic's regular army.
A hundred and forty nations have signed up to the Ottawa Convention since it was adopted in September 1997. The former Soviet republics of Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are among the signatories.