• Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland




    Anti-personnel mines - weapons of the past

    By HRH Prince Mired Bin Raad Al Hussein,  16/09/2008

    By signing the Ottawa Convention, Poland has agreed not to produce anti-personnel mines. But so far not it is daring enough to ratify the treaty - writes the Jordanian prince HRH Mired Bin Raad Al Hussein .

    My mission to Poland of last month took place at an important time. I came to Poland to encourage its leaders to get rid of anti-personnel mines once and for all. This happened at a time when international events drew more attention to Poland in the affairs of its security and defence.

    It's time  for  the last step

    Was my mission doomed not to be carried out successfully, therefore.? Was my mission impossible? I think not. Regardless of the recent events, it is time, in which Poland should give up arms completely unnecessary in their military arsenals.

    While being in Poland, I was able to find out more than ever that one of the main values in this country is to  keep up with  modernity. This does not mean less attention to the matters of national security. However, it should be done in accordance with the highest standards of humanitarian conduct in today's world.

    In principle,  Poland acknowledges that anti-personnel landmines is a weaponry from the time past, so they  have   decided  not to produce and not to export such weapons. Poland  also committed itself not to apply the anti-personnel landmines during the missions carried out by them abroad. But they  had not enough courage  required to make the last step,  as it has been done by   a number of other countries that  signed the Ottawa Convention of 1997 on the prohibition of antipersonnel landmines. Becoming the 157th signatory to the Convention, Poland could contribute to the sustainable end of the era marked by the victims and sufferings caused by the use of anti-personnel mines.

    The suffering of civilians

    Would the adoption of this convention harm the security of the country?  In no case. In recent conflicts, which erupted in the world, the lack of anti-personnel mines does not alter in the slightest their development and did not harm  any of the parties. This type of weapons has become simply useless while the effect of its use is an inexpressible suffering of civilians and local communities, which may last for years and decades.

    Modern Poland, which I  met, is well aware of this case and proves that they intend to build their   national security in the twenty-first century on the basis of precise weapons systems and early warning systems. Such security will be the result of participation in alliances and diplomacy, dialogue and cooperation rather than brutal use of force.

    Poland, which I saw,  is an  impressive place. Not only adapting to change, but also designating their lines. It is a country sharing the  values of the signatory countries to the Ottawa Convention, which provides a detailed plan to resolve forever the problem of anti-personnel mines.

    I'm looking forward to the day when Poland officially has joined our action.

    The author comes from the  Royal Family of Jordan. He is  chairing  the Eighth Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on the prohibition of anti-personnel mines. He graduated from the British Royal Military Academy - Sandhurst. Previously, he  served in the Jordanian Army, in its special forces and military intelligence. It is also a graduate of Strategic Studies at Tufts University in the United States. He  has got a degree in philosophy at the University of Cambridge.


    Will a prince remove landmines from Poland?

    By Jacek Przybylski, Rzeczpospolita Daily,  26-08-2008

    Jordanian  Prince Mired Raad Al Hussein came to Warsaw to find out why Poland still maintains one million anti-personnel landmines.

     The prince  is trying to persuade representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of National Defence, that Poland eventually  ratify the Ottawa Convention, signed in 1997. Our country is in fact - along with  the Marshall Islands -  the only signatory country, which still has not been able to do this. There are 156 countries - parties to the Convention that have destroyed millions of their landmines.

    After almost 11 years we still hear from the Polish authorities that the convention will be ratified until 2015, because the landmines are part of a system to defend Polish territory - explains Ms. Lidia Szafaryn from the Polish Red Cross. Our army now has nearly one million anti-personnel landmines, but for three years we habe been applying a moratorium on their use.

    In the EU there is still another  exception, Finland, which has neither signed nor ratified the convention, but committed itself to do it by 2011 - Ms. Lidia Szafaryn stresses.

    Rzeczpospolita: Around the world there are many countries which do not fully comply with the Convention on the prohibition of the use and storage of anti-personnel landmines: Chad, Thailand, Zimbabwe. Why did Your Royal Highness come just to Poland to discuss the demining?

    Prince Mired Raad Al Hussein: What differs Poland from these countries is that they have not only signed the convention but they do  implement it. Poland has signed the Convention, yet it has not ratified it. I came  to Warsaw to ask why.

    As chairman of the 8th Meeting of States Parties to the Ottawa Convention I am obliged to promote a ban on the use of anti-personnel landmines. So,  I  encourage governments  to reconsider the matter.

    Rzeczpospolita: The risk of the use of landmines by Poland is small. While the Russians recently have formed some minefields. Will Your Royal Highness  be going to Moscow?

    Prince Mired Raad Al Hussein: Russia is not a party to the convention. Of course, the prohibition of the use of landmines should be universally applied. We shall be   persuading everyone not to use these weapons.

    Rzeczpospolita: As a graduate of strategic studies in the U.S. and British military colleges,   don't you  have, Your Royal Highness,  the impression that the mission, which you have undertaken, it is not feasible?

    Prince Mired Raad Al Hussein: It is difficult to expect that Russia, China and the U.S. forget about the so cheap and simple to use weapons.

    Of course, there are countries which are difficult to convince. But have succeeded so many times. 156 countries are already parties to the Convention, many of them destroyed a number of anti-personnel mines. The weapons can really get rid once and for all. For me it is also a personal matter: I have many friends who fell victim of anti-personnel mines. One of them - a sapper - lost his hands and eyes. He is 31 years old and requires care as a child. His mother has to do everything to him. This is terrible. One of my colleagues lost his legs. Fortunately for him, he has  managed to return to normal life. Often, anti-personnel landmines not only make you crippled, but they are the cause of poverty and social rejection.

    Rzeczpospolita: You were, Your Royal Highness,  member  the special forces. Do you consider from the military point of view the anti-personnel mines as an effective weapon?

    Prince Mired Raad Al Hussein: On the contrary. I think that today on the battlefield they are totally ineffective. Supposedly, they can be used for a kind of psychological deterrence, but for modern, well-trained army they do not represent a larger problem. Without a special training, you can find many ways to overcome a minefield.

    Rzeczpospolita:  So why the Russians have put the landmines on the  Georgian land?

    Prince Mired Raad Al Hussein:  You have to ask the Russians. anti-personnel landmine is a terrible weapon, which - with regard to   thousands of  human beings wounded and killed by them -  could be considered weapons of mass destruction. Morever,  And there are wasted billions of dollars spent on their production, setting and then disarming land mines -  several times more expensive than their creation - and to help the victims.

    Interview made by: Jacek Przybylski, Rzeczpospolita Daily

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