Landmines: a global success story in the making
Not all news is bad news - The Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World, 29 November to 3 December 2004
Ten years ago anti-personnel landmines were killing and injuring tens of thousands of people per year - creating what the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called a global “epidemic ”of landmine injuries.
Ten years ago the ICRC called for a comprehensive ban on anti-personnel mines as the “only effective solution ” to the landmines crisis.
Eight years ago nearly one hundred like-minded governments, international humanitarian agencies and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines welcomed the call of the Canadian government to negotiate a global ban on anti-personnel mines.
Seven years ago 123 States signed the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines promising an end to the use of this perverse weapon, the destruction of stockpiles, clearance of mined areas, assistance to mine victims and mutual aid in achieving these goals.
In 2004 more than 140 States are party to the Convention, more than 37 million mines have been destroyed and clearance efforts are taking place throughout the world. In a number of countries the level of anti-personnel mine casualties has fallen dramatically.
The use of anti-personnel mines has decreased dramatically since the Convention was adopted. The Convention’s norm of non-use of anti-personnel mines binds 143 States. In addition, the norm of non-use has enjoyed acceptance among many States not party to the Convention. The ICBL ’s Landmine Monitor 2003 has reported a decline in the use of anti–personnel mines even by States not party to the Convention.
The production of anti-personnel mines has also decreased significantly, with 36 nations having ceased production, including 3 States not party to the Convention.
The legal trade in anti-personnel mines has virtually halted worldwide. Most States not party to the Convention that possess anti-personnel mines have export or transfer moratoria in place (e.g. China, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Singapore, South Korea, United States).
States party to the Convention have destroyed a total of over 37.2 million anti-personnel mines. All States whose stockpile destruction deadlines have occurred have reported completing their destruction programmes. This represents an outstanding rate of compliance.
Fifty States party to the Convention have indicated that they have mined areas that must be cleared. Two of these States - Costa Rica and Djibouti - have already reported completion of their clearance obligations. In addition, significant mine clearance activities are taking place in most of the rest of these States.
Since the adoption of the Ottawa Convention in 1997, more than US$1 billion has been invested in mine-clearance, stockpile destruction, victim assistance and other mine action activities by States party to the Convention. Of this amount, more than US$190 million has been generated by mine-affected States Parties themselves.
Most importantly, the number of new mine victims has fallen. The ICRC has found that where the Convention’s norms and requirements are being respected and implemented, the annual number of new mine victims has fallen significantly, in some cases by two-thirds or more.
Despite the successes mentioned above great challenges remain. The coming five years will be critical.
The landmine crisis is far from over. Millions of anti-personnel mines continue to threaten populations around the world, claiming thousands of new victims each year, and impoverishing communities. Vast tracts of valuable land remain unusable due to the presence of anti -personnel mines.
In December 2004 the leaders of all States Parties have been invited to the Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World to review the first five years of the Convention’s implementation, reaffirm their commitments to this unique treaty and mobilize resources to ensure the clearance of mines by deadlines beginning in 2009.