The entry into force of the Anti-Personnel Mines (APM) Convention on 1 March 1999 marks the beginning of a process that can lead to a world free of anti-personnel mines. For the first time, a norm of international law has been established prohibiting the possession of a specific type of conventional weapon which has been in widespread use. It contains an obligation, unprecedented for an arms control treaty, to provide assistance for the care and rehabilitation of victims. Moreover, the APM Convention is the result of negotiations carried out in the record time of less than one year by a group of like-minded nations outside the Conference on Disarmament, and without the participation of all the five great powers. Achieving the desirable degree of universality will probably take a long time, but the pressure of world and domestic public opinion on the hold-out governments may prove irresistible. In the immediate future, the most urgent task for the international community is to strengthen and accelerate the de-mining operations in the most heavily mined countries, and to provide assistance to mine victims.