Video Message by Prince Harry for the 20th Anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty
20 years ago this year, my mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, walked through a cleared minefield in Angola. She witnessed firsthand the pain and suffering of those whose lives have been destroyed by landmines. As she comforted children waiting patiently for their prosthetic legs, parliaments, non-government organizations and campaigners around the world came together to find a way to stop the killing and maiming for good.
The result was a treaty designed to rid the world of landmines forever. Some of the children who she met in that clinic are now parents themselves. It is unbearable to think that their children are still forced to live with the legacy of a war that finished decades ago.
Only this October, a 14-year-old boy called Sapelo lost both his legs in an explosion in Mexico and Angola, one of the countries my mother visited two decades ago.
Together, the states, donors and non-government groups gathered here in Vienna have made huge progress towards achieving a world free of mines. To date, 29 states have been declared mine-free – a tremendous achievement and a testament to the treaty’s ambition and vision.
But millions of people are still affected by mines and there is so much more that still needs to be done.
The Mine Ban Treaty includes a commitment from the international community to clear the world of landmines by 2025. With just eight years to go, we must stiffen our resolve and redouble our efforts if we are to stand any chance of achieving this goal.
I’m delighted that the British Government has taken the lead by increasing its funding to clear these terrible legacies of war. But without similar commitments across the world, the 2025 goal will not be achieved.
It is incredible to think that if we clear some of those countries most affected, then we can free over 60 million people from the threat of landmines for good, and bring back transport, development, agriculture and the ability for future generations of children to play without fear.
My mother also visited Bosnia 20 years ago, where she promised two young boys coming to terms with life-changing injuries that they would never be forgotten. These young boys are now men, and it falls to me and all of us to uphold her promise.
So, on behalf of them and the children she met in Angola, let us recommit today to the Maputo deadline of 2025. Let us not meet again in another 10 years and hear that a new generation of children face being killed or maimed through innocent play.