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States must reaffirm their commitment to the Mine Ban Treaty

Explosive weapons Rights

The Mine Action Conference will take place in Cambodia on November 25-29, 2024. After 15 years of decline, their use and the number of victims are increasing...

A destroyed mine in the hand of a HI clearance expert in Lebanon.

A destroyed mine in the hand of a HI clearance expert in Lebanon. | © M.Feltner / HI

The impact of the Mine Ban Treaty

Since the adoption of the Treaty in 1997, we have seen a significant reduction in landmine casualties, with numbers falling from around 25,000 per year in 1999 to fewer than 5,000 recorded casualties in 2022. Vast tracts of contaminated land have been cleared and returned to productive use, with over 30 countries declared mine-free. More than 55 million mines stockpiled by States have been destroyed. The production and transfer of anti-personnel mines has virtually stopped. The rights and needs of landmine victims are recognised internationally and increasingly addressed at national level.

The Treaty has put an end, almost universally, to the use of a previously widely used weapon.

But recent reports suggest that serious challenges remain…

We have recently seen significant new use of antipersonnel landmines, mainly by Russia in Ukraine, with reports also indicating use by the State Party Ukraine in 2022.

Antipersonnel mines have also been used in a number of other countries, including Myanmar, Colombia, India, Thailand and Tunisia, as well as by various non-state armed groups, resulting in a growing number of casualties and land contamination that will pose a threat for years to come.

Civilians still account for significant proportion of the casualties. Indeed, of the 4.710 landmine casualties recorded in 49 countries in 2022, 85% were civilians, and almost half of them were children (1,171). The highest number of annual casualties in 2022 was recorded in Syria (834) and Ukraine (608). Today, 60 countries are still contaminated by antipersonnel landmines.

A treaty under threat?

These new uses are a direct undermining of the Mine Ban Treaty’s norms and requirements and they will pose a direct and long-term threat to civilians living in contaminated areas. Alarmingly, States parties are being insufficiently vocal in their condemnation of these recent uses.

In endorsing the Mine Ban Treaty, they agreed to condemn in the strongest possible terms any use of antipersonnel mines, by any actor, under any circumstances. States parties must now reaffirm the importance and effectiveness of the Mine Ban Treaty and their unequivocal commitment to upholding its norms. HI will stress the crucial need for this at the Fifth Review Conference and during the finalisation of the next action plan.[1]

Victim Assistance at the heart of the Mine Ban Treaty

The Ottawa treaty recognises the rights and needs of landmine victims and includes an obligation to provide assistance with care, rehabilitation, psychological and psychosocial support and social and economic inclusion. Indeed, survivors may be left with permanent disabilities that can have a profound impact on their lives and those of their families and require lifelong support. More broadly, communities living in areas contaminated by landmines also have specific needs, since they are exposed to this threat sometimes for decades and often have difficulties accessing vital services, such as hospitals. Yet their needs are often overlooked.

Underfunding of rehabilitation for victims

The Landmine Monitor 2023 report reveals that rehabilitation programmes are critically underfunded, with international aid for victim assistance constituting only 5% of total mine action funding.

At the conference next November, Humanity & Inclusion (HI) will lobby for significant funding for victim assistance. We will remind states of the importance of assisting victims living in countries where there have been armed conflicts in the past and land contamination is still high, as well as in ongoing conflicts, such as those in Ukraine, Gaza and Sudan. States Parties to the treaty must improve access to rehabilitation and assistive technologies and psychological support and take steps to improve the inclusion of survivors and their families into society. They must also support the implementation of risk education and awareness activities for communities living in contaminated areas to reduce the risk of accidents involving landmines and explosive remnants of war

The origin of the Mine Ban Treaty

The Mine Ban Treaty, also referred to as the Ottawa Convention, is the result of concerted efforts by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), a coalition of NGOs co-founded by HI, and supportive states. This collaboration led to the adoption of the Treaty on 18 September 1997. One week after the signing ceremony, which took place in Ottawa, Canada, on 3-4 December 1997, ICBL was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its achievements.

[1] An action plan will be adopted at this Conference to provide guidance to States Parties on how to implement the Treaty’s commitments over the next five years.

Date published: 08/05/24


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