Aware of the continued threat from anti-personnel landmines in many parts of the world, states-parties to the Mine Ban Treaty again granted extensions to countries that still need to clear contaminated land. The action was taken at the treaty’s annual conference on Nov. 15–19, held virtually from The Hague.
At the treaty’s 2019 review conference, members set the global goal of completing landmine clearance by 2025. Despite that aspiration, the Mine Action Review found that the majority of contaminated countries are not on track to meet their national deadlines, some of which already extend beyond 2025. Under the treaty, countries have 10 years to clear areas contaminated by landmines, but may seek extensions that set new deadlines.
States-parties granted treaty-compliant extension requests to Cyprus, Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia, and Turkey. They “expressed serious concern” that Eritrea remained in noncompliance by not requesting an extension to its 2020 deadline.
On the positive side, the Mine Action Review found that more than 159 square kilometers of land was cleared of landmines in 2020, the highest worldwide total since 2015. The Landmine Monitor noted that financial contributions to support clearance and other mine action activities was 6 percent higher in 2016–2020 than during the previous five-year period, and international support in 2020 totaled $565 million, a small increase over 2019.
The Landmine Monitor also reported more than 7,000 casualties from landmines and other explosive remnants of war in 2020, a sixth year of high annual totals. Nearly 1,500 of those casualties were in Afghanistan, where the Taliban takeover is disrupting internationally supported clearance efforts.
The United States, the world’s largest financial contributor to mine clearance, attended the annual meeting as an observer, as it has done since 2009. In 2020, President Donald Trump renounced the Obama-era policy to someday accede to the treaty. In April, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said President Joe Biden “intends to roll back this [Trump] policy, and our administration has begun a policy review to do just that." A State Department official confirmed to Arms Control Today via email on Nov. 18 that the review is ongoing.—JEFF ABRAMSON