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Anti-personnel landmines: the main challenges ahead

20-12-2007 Interview

In November 2007, States Parties to the Ottawa Mine Ban Convention met in Jordan to evaluate progress on the implementation of the ban on anti-personnel landmines. They also discussed the main challenges going forward in terms of clearance deadlines, stockpile destruction and victime assistance. An interview with Eve La Haye, legal adviser in the ICRC's arms unit.

 What was the purpose of the Dead Sea meeting and who participated?  

    The 8th Meeting of States Parties at the Dead Sea in Jordan was the first time that States Parties to the Mine Ban Convention met in Middle East. It highlighted success stories in the implementation of the Conv ention in this region of the world and aimed to attract further adherence to the convention by States in the Middle East. At least 500 participants from the 156 States Parties to the Convention as well as NGOs and international organisations participated in the event.

This meeting presented an opportunity to reinvigorate global interest in the landmine problem and the approach taken in the AP Mine Ban convention. It allowed for in depth discussions of the coming challenges facing the Convention, in particular the management of clearance deadlines and the necessity to ensure that landmine survivors see tangible improvements in the services available to them in terms of treatment, rehabilitation and socio-economic reintegration.


 What were the most important results of the meeting?  



States Parties adopted the Dead Sea Progress Report which measures progress in the implementation of the Convention since last year's Meeting of States Parties and identifies priority areas of work for the year ahead. This tool should enable States Parties to achieve real progress in the implementation and concentrate on the major challenges ahead in terms of clearance deadlines, stockpile destruction and victim assistance. States also adopted a voluntary template for assisting mine-affected States in requesting an extension of their mine clearance deadline. The use of this template will facilitate the preparation and assessment of such requests.


 What were the ICRC's key messages to States Parties at this meeting?  

Demining in Afghanistan    
    Despite extraordinary achievements in the last ten years, this Convention faces some important challenges that must be faced collectively by States Parties. The first challenge is related to the clearance deadlines coming up in 2009 and 2010. The Convention gives ten years to States Parties to clear all mined areas. If States are unable to do so in the given deadline, they can ask for an extension of time. The success of the Mine Ban Convention will be judged on the basis of States'capacity to manage clearance deadlines in a way which maintains the credibility of the Convention and creates maximum pressure for completion before the deadline or within a realistic, well planned and adequately funded extension period.

Another key challenge concerns victim assistance. In his speech to the Dead Sea meeting, the Vice-Presiden t of the ICRC noted that increasingly focussed and nationally based work was undertaken by States parties. However, in most affected countries, we are still far from seeing the type of benefits which landmine survivors feel they should expect from this Convention. States Parties must do more to address the needs of landmines survivors, which include not only the physical treatment of their injuries but also their rehabilitation and social and economic reintegration in society.

Finally, the ICRC also called on all States to ensure that the virtually perfect record of compliance with the stockpile destruction obligations of the convention is maintained in the near future.


 Now that the Convention has celebrated its 10th anniversary, what needs to happen in the next 10 years to reach the ultimate objective of the Convention, namely to eliminate the suffering caused by anti-personnel mines?  

Southern Lebanon. Mine victim    
    To reach the ultimate objective of the convention, States Parties must do their utmost to complete clearance of their mined areas before their deadline or as soon as possible within a realistic, well planned and adequately funded extension period. Furthermore, States Parties that still have stockpiles to destroy must complete the destruction of their stocks within the 4 year deadline.

Finally, States parties with large numbers of mine victims should put in place comprehensive national plans to achieve tangible improvements in the services available to mine victims and other persons with disabilities. Efforts must be increased in this field for victim assistance is an essential part of the promise of the Convention.

Most of these challenges are intrinsically linked to the mobilisation of sufficient financial resources. Without a significant increase in human, technical and financial resources from all States Parties, many mine-affected States Parties are unlikely to meet their deadlines and in many contexts the suffering of mine victims and survivors will not be alleviated.

  • More on decisions taken at the 8th Meeting of States Parties: Dead Sea Progress Report   (unofficial version) on the 8MSP Website