The Pope, John Paul II, has urged the destruction of landmine stockpiles and called on nations including China, Russia, India and the US to adhere to the 1997 Ottowa Convention to ban them.
The call was made in an message to Wolfgang Petritsch, Austria's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, and president of the 2004 Nairobi Summit of a Mine Free World, which is being held in Nairobi.
The Message, written in French, was read out on the penultimate day of the November 29-December 3 conference and the opening day of the high level segment of the meeting, by Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, secretary of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace, and head of the Holy See delegation.
More than 1300 delegates are discussing an action plan for the next five years.
With landmines claiming up to 20,000 victims a year, many of them children, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today joined African leaders who also called on China, India, Russia and the United States to join the Mine Ban Treaty and immediately cease production of the weapons.