“As you meet in the aftermath of the terrible tragedy that occurred in the United States a week ago today, this gathering takes on even greater significance,” the Secretary-General said in a message to the Third Meeting of States Parties to the Mine-Ban Convention in Managua, Nicaragua. “Never has there been a greater need for the world to show unity and purpose against the forces of violence and destruction,” Mr. Annan said in the message delivered on his behalf by Jayantha Dhanapala, UN Under Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs. Mr. Annan said the Mine-Ban Convention – formerly called the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction – was making a difference in the lives of people around the world. “More mines have been cleared, more victims assisted, more stockpiles destroyed, and more effective technologies for mine action have been developed,” he said. “More men, women and especially children have been made aware of dangerous landmine zones.”So far, 120 countries have ratified the treaty, also known as the Ottawa Convention, or are in the process of doing so, the Secretary-General said, urging those that have not yet joined the treaty to do so as soon as possible.The UN chief also warned that challenges remained ahead, particularly in creating more effective coordination and mobilization of resources at the international level, and building better capacity for mine action programmes at the national and local levels. In response to those challenges, he said, the UN was developing a five-year mine action strategy to identify goals to be achieved, including an international instrument addressing unexploded ordnances, which were not originally a part of the Convention.