Muscat: Oman joined the international treaty banning anti-personnel land mines on August 20, Human Rights Watch said on Sunday. Oman is the eighth Arab country and 162nd country worldwide to join the pact.
The move should encourage the remaining 11 countries in the Middle East and North Africa to join the Mine Ban Treaty and respect its provisions, the Human Rights Watch noted.
"Oman has finally recognised that the long-term threat which land mines pose to civilians far outweighs any military utility these weapons might provide," claimed Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
"Oman's decision to relinquish these weapons sends a strong signal to other governments across the region that now is the time to join the land mine ban."
The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty bans the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of anti-personnel land mines and requires clearance of mined areas within 10 years as well as assistance to land mine victims. Treaty members include eight countries from the Middle East and North Africa — Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Tunisia, and Yemen, all European Union countries, all Nato members except the US, all nations in sub-Saharan Africa, all countries in the Western Hemisphere except Cuba and the US, and several nations from the Commonwealth of Independent States.
In March, Oman's foreign affairs minister, Youssef bin Alawi bin Abdullah, informed the Mine Ban Treaty envoy, Princess Astrid of Belgium, of the government's decision to join the covenant.
Oman officially deposited its instrument of accession joining the treaty with the United Nations in New York on August 20. The Mine Ban Treaty will take effect for Oman after a mandatory six-month waiting period.