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Landmines

The Ottawa Convention: Signatories and States-Parties

August 2017

Contact: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x107

Updated: August 2017

The Ottawa Convention, also referred to as the "Mine Ban Treaty," prohibits the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of anti-personnel landmines (APLs). It requires states-parties to destroy their stockpiled APLs within four years and eliminate all APL holdings, including mines currently planted in the soil, within 10 years. Countries may request a renewable extension, which can be up to 10 years long, to fulfill their destruction obligations. States-parties are also required annually to report to the UN secretary-general their total APL stockpiles, the technical characteristics of their APLs, the location of all mined areas, and the status of APL destruction programs.

The convention, which is of unlimited duration and open to all nations, entered into force March 1, 1999. As of August 2017, 162 countries had ratified or acceded to the treaty, and one country, the Marshall Islands, has signed the accord but not ratified it. States-parties overwhelmingly come from Europe, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean. About half of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the Asia-Pacific regions have signed the treaty. For more information about the treaty, see “The Ottawa Convention at a Glance.”

Some key current and past producers and users of landmines, including the United States, China, India, Pakistan, and Russia, have not signed the treaty. The George W. Bush administration announced Feb. 27, 2004 that the United States would not join the Ottawa Convention. The Barack Obama administration changed that policy in 2014, expressing an intention to eventually join, and banning the production and acquisition of APLs and reserving their use for only on the Korean peninsula.  The United States is party to the 1996 amended mines protocol of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which restricts but does not ban APL use.  

A precise accounting of the number of landmines planted globally is not possible. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a coalition of non-government organizations active in some 100 countries, has estimated that 64 states and areas have landmines on their territories.

The following is a complete list of all Ottawa Convention signatories and states-parties:

Country

Signature

Deposit

Afghanistan

9/11/02

Albania

9/8/98

2/29/00

Algeria

12/3/97

10/9/01

Andorra

12/3/97

6/29/98

Angola

12/4/97

7/5/02

Antigua & Barbuda

12/3/97

5/3/99

Argentina

12/4/97

9/14/99

Australia

12/3/97

1/14/99

Austria

12/3/97

6/29/98

Bahamas

12/3/97

7/31/98

Bangladesh

5/7/98

9/6/00

Barbados

12/3/97

1/26/99

Belarus

9/03/03

Belgium

12/3/97

9/4/98

Belize

2/27/98

4/23/98

Benin

12/3/97

9/25/98

Bhutan

8/18/05

Bolivia

12/3/97

6/9/98

Bosnia and Herzegovina

12/3/97

9/8/98

Botswana

12/3/97

3/1/00

Brazil

12/3/97

4/30/99

Brunei Darussalam

12/4/97

4/24/06

Bulgaria

12/3/97

9/4/98

Burkina Faso

12/3/97

9/16/98

Burundi

12/3/97

10/22/03

Cambodia

12/3/97

7/28/99

Cameroon

12/3/97

9/19/02

Canada

12/3/97

12/3/97

Cape Verde

12/4/97

5/14/01

Central African Republic

11/8/02

Chad

7/6/98

5/6/99

Chile

12/3/97

9/10/01

Colombia

12/3/97

9/6/00

Comoros

9/19/02

Congo

5/4/01

Cook Islands

12/3/97

3/15/06

Costa Rica

12/3/97

3/17/99

Cote d'Ivoire

12/3/97

6/30/00

Croatia

12/4/97

5/20/98

Cyprus

12/4/97

1/17/03

Czech Republic

12/3/97

10/26/99

Democratic Republic of Congo

5/2/02

Denmark

12/4/97

6/8/98

Djibouti

12/3/97

5/18/98

Dominica

12/3/97

3/26/99

Dominican Republic

12/3/97

6/30/00

Ecuador

12/4/97

4/29/99

El Salvador

12/4/97

1/27/99

Equatorial Guinea

9/16/98

Eriitrea

8/27/01

Estonia

5/12/04

Ethiopia

12/3/97

12/17/04

Fiji

12/3/97

6/10/98

Finland

1/09/12

France

12/3/97

7/23/98

Gabon

12/3/97

9/8/00

Gambia

12/4/97

9/23/02

Germany

12/3/97

7/23/98

Ghana

12/4/97

6/30/00

Greece

12/3/97

9/25/03

Grenada

12/3/97

8/19/98

Guatemala

12/3/97

3/26/99

Guinea

12/4/97

10/8/98

Guinea-Bissau

12/3/97

5/22/01

Guyana

12/4/97

8/5/03

Haiti

12/3/97

2/15/06

Holy See

12/4/97

2/17/98

Honduras

12/3/97

9/24/98

Hungary

12/3/97

4/6/98

Iceland

12/4/97

5/5/99

Indonesia

12/4/97

2/20/07

Iraq

8/15/07

Ireland

12/3/97

12/3/97

Italy

12/3/97

4/23/99

Jamaica

12/3/97

7/17/98

Japan

12/3/97

9/30/98

Jordan

8/11/98

11/13/98

Kenya

12/5/97

1/23/01

Kiribati

9/7/00

Kuwait

7/31/07

Latvia

7/1/05

Lesotho

12/4/97

12/2/98

Liberia

12/23/99

Liechtenstein

12/3/97

10/5/99

Lithuania

2/26/99

5/12/03

Luxembourg

12/4/97

6/14/99

Macedonia, FYR

9/9/98

Madagascar

12/4/97

9/16/99

Malawi

12/4/97

8/13/98

Malaysia

12/3/97

4/22/99

Maldives

10/1/98

9/7/00

Mali

12/3/97

6/2/98

Malta

12/4/97

5/7/01

Marshall Islands

12/4/97

Mauritania

12/3/97

7/21/00

Mauritius

12/3/97

12/3/97

Mexico

12/3/97

6/9/98

Moldova

12/3/97

9/8/00

Monaco

12/4/97

11/17/98

Montenegro

10/23/06

Mozambique

12/3/97

8/25/98

Namibia

12/3/97

9/21/98

Nauru

8/7/00

Netherlands

12/3/97

4/12/99

New Zealand

12/3/97

1/27/99

Nicaragua

12/4/97

11/30/98

Niger

12/4/97

3/23/99

Nigeria

9/27/01

Niue

12/3/97

4/15/98

Norway

12/3/97

7/9/98

Oman

8/20/14

Palau

11/19/07

Panama

12/4/97

10/7/98

Papua New Guinea

6/28/04

Paraguay

12/3/97

11/13/98

Peru

12/3/97

6/17/98

Philippines

12/3/97

2/15/00

Poland

12/4/97

12/27/12

Portugal

12/3/97

2/19/99

Qatar

12/4/97

10/13/98

Romania

12/3/97

11/30/00

Rwanda

12/3/97

6/8/00

St. Kitts & Nevis

12/3/97

12/2/98

St. Lucia

12/3/97

4/13/99

St. Vincent & the Grenadines

12/3/97

8/1/01

Samoa

12/3/97

7/23/98

San Marino

12/3/97

3/18/98

Sao Tome & Principe

4/30/98

3/31/03

Senegal

12/3/97

9/24/98

Serbia & Montenegro

9/18/03

Seychelles

12/4/97

6/2/00

Sierra Leone

7/29/98

4/25/01

Slovakia

12/3/97

2/25/99

Slovenia

12/3/97

10/27/98

Solomon Islands

12/4/97

1/26/99

Somalia

4/16/12

South Africa

12/3/97

6/26/98

South Sudan

11/11/11

Spain

12/3/97

1/19/99

Sudan

12/4/97

10/13/03

Suriname

12/4/97

5/23/02

Swaziland

12/4/97

12/22/98

Sweden

12/4/97

11/30/98

Switzerland

12/3/97

3/24/98

Tajikistan

10/12/99

Tanzania

12/3/97

11/13/00

Thailand

12/3/97

11/27/98

Timor Leste

5/7/03

Togo

12/4/97

3/9/00

Trinidad & Tobago

12/4/97

4/27/98

Tunisia

12/4/97

7/9/99

Turkey

9/25/03

Turkmenistan

12/3/97

1/19/98

Tuvalu

9/13/11

Uganda

12/3/97

2/25/99

Ukraine

2/24/99

12/27/05

United Kingdom

12/3/97

7/31/98

Uruguay

12/3/97

6/7/01

Vanuatu

12/4/97

9/16/05

Venezuela

12/3/97

4/14/99

Yemen

12/4/97

9/1/98

Zambia

12/12/97

2/23/01

Zimbabwe

12/3/97

6/18/98

Updated by Sara Schmitt

Conventional Arms Issues

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Posted: August 17, 2017

The Ottawa Convention at a Glance

August 2017

Contact: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x107

Updated: August 2017

The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, typically referred to as the "Ottawa Convention" or "Mine Ban Treaty," seeks to end the use of anti-personnel landmines (APLs) worldwide. It was opened for signature on December 3, 1997, and it entered into force on March 1, 1999.

As of August 2017, 162 states are party to the treaty.  One country, the Marshall Islands, has signed but not ratified it.  There are 34 non-signatories, including major powers such as the United States, Russia, and China. Few countries in key regions of tension, namely the Middle East and South Asia, have opted to participate. For more information on signatories and states-parties to the treaty, see: “The Ottawa Convention: Signatories and States-Parties.”

Because of the treaty, international norms have now formed that discourage any country, signatory or not, from using mines.  Many non-signatories are in de facto compliance with the Ottawa Convention by refusing to use landmines and committing to voluntary destruction of stockpiles. Non-state armed groups continue to use mines, in particular improvised landmines (improvised explosive devices [IEDs] that meet the definition of banned APLs) in about 10 countries per year.  (Millions of mines are estimated to be planted in the ground in 64 countries and disputed areas.

Global APL stockpiles are thought to be around 50 million mines, down from earlier estimates of about 100 million. Some of the countries that suffer the most from the humanitarian impacts of landmines include Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Chad, and Iraq.

The Obama administration  undertook a review of its policy towards the Ottawa Convention and in 2014 expressed an intention to eventually accede to the treaty. US policy now bans the production and acquisition of APLs as well use of the weapons outside of the Korean Peninsula.

Prohibitions: States-parties commit to not using, developing, producing, acquiring, retaining, stockpiling, or transferring anti-personnel landmines, which are defined by the treaty as mines "designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person and that will incapacitate, injure or kill one or more persons." APLs that are remotely triggered, such as claymores, are not proscribed, nor are anti-vehicle mines, including those equipped with anti-handling devices, which are designed to protect anti-vehicles mines from being tampered with or moved.  The treaty also forbids signatories from assisting or encouraging any other state or party from engaging in the activities outlawed by the treaty.

APL Destruction and Clearance: Each state-party is expected to destroy all APLs stockpiled in arsenals, except those retained for demining training, within four years of becoming bound by the treaty. Collectively, states parties have destroyed more than 50 million stockpiled landmines, with only five states, at most, still to complete destruction. Currently two states remain in violation of the treaty –Greece and Ukraine – for failure to complete destruction of their stockpiles within the 4-year deadline.

Within 10 years of its entry into force date, each country is required to destroy all APLs under its jurisdiction and control, including those planted in the soil. A country may request renewable extensions of up to 10 years to complete this clearance task. A majority of participants at a meeting of states-parties or review conference must approve an extension request. Many states have sought and received extensions and more than 25 countries have completed clearance of all mined areas.  

Cooperation and Assistance: The treaty calls on any state-party "in a position to do so" to assist other states-parties in aiding mine victims, providing demining assistance, and helping with mine destruction. States-parties are expected to be as helpful as possible in making sure all states-parties have access to equipment, material, and scientific and technological information for implementing the treaty without "undue restrictions."

Transparency: Each state-party is to provide the United Nations with a comprehensive report on the numbers, types, and locations of all APLs under its control as well as the status of all programs for destroying APLs. An initial report is required 180 days after the treaty becomes legally binding for each state-party, and thereafter reports are expected annually by April 30.

Compliance: The treaty did not create an implementation or verification body or outline punitive measures for noncompliance. A state-party may question the compliance of another state-party, and a special meeting of states-parties can be convened to address the allegation. States-parties can establish a fact-finding mission to investigate the alleged noncompliance and, if necessary, call on the state-party in question to address the compliance issue.

Amendment and Withdrawal: Treaty amendments can be proposed, and then approved by two-thirds of all states-parties attending a special amendment conference. A state-party may withdraw from the treaty six months after submitting an instrument of withdrawal, though it will not take effect if the country is engaged in armed conflict.

Updated by Sara Schmitt

 

Conventional Arms Issues

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Posted: August 17, 2017

Mine Ban Successes, Challenges Continue

States-parties to the Mine Ban Treaty gathered in Santiago, Chile, from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 to continue their efforts

January/February 2017

By Jeff Abramson

States-parties to the Mine Ban Treaty gathered in Santiago, Chile, from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 to continue efforts for achieving a mine-free world. 

Although mine use has declined significantly, three states outside the treaty, as well as nonstate armed groups in 10 countries, continued to use landmines according to the annual Landmine Monitor report. In 2015, casualties due to landmines, cluster munition remnants, and other remnants of war rose to at least 6,461, a decade-long high, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a civil society coalition, said in the report issued just prior to the meeting.

Delegates convene during the plenary of the Fifteenth Meeting of the States-Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in Santiago, Chile on November 28, 2016. (Photo credit: ICBL)Delegates adopted a final document that “reaffirmed the determination…to put an end to the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines” and “expressed concern about the allegations and instances of use of anti-personnel mines in different parts of the world.”

Poland, the most recent NATO member to join the treaty, announced it had completed ahead of its June 2017 deadline the destruction of its stockpile of more than one million landmines. Under the treaty, states have four years to complete stockpile destruction once the treaty enters into force for that country.

The only NATO country not party to the treaty, the United States, attended as an observer, which it has done since 2009. At the meeting, Steve Costner, deputy director of the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement at the U.S. State Department, said the “process is ongoing” to “ultimately comply with and accede” to the treaty, a goal first announced by the Obama administration in 2014. (See ACT, October 2014.)

At this year’s annual meeting, to be hosted Dec. 18-22 in Vienna, states-parties will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the treaty’s opening for signature, on Dec. 3, 1997.

Posted: January 9, 2017

Much more needed from top presidential candidates on arms issues

This guest post is written by Jeff Abramson, organizer for the Forum on Arms Trade and nonresident senior fellow with the Arms Control Association. The assessments here are not endorsed by other experts, the Arms Control Association, the Forum on the Arms Trade, nor the candidates. The next U.S. president will need to make many decisions that are fundamental to how the United States provides weapons and training to other parties, supports (or disregards) agreements to responsibly trade arms and in some cases ban those the international community has deemed unacceptable , as well as how it...

Mine Ban Meeting Focuses on Victims

January/February 2016

By Jeff Abramson

More than 15 years after bringing the Mine Ban Treaty into force, states-parties to the accord met late last year in Geneva at a gathering that celebrated continued success while recognizing that the goal of a mine-free world has not been reached and highlighting the ongoing needs of victims.

At the Nov. 30-Dec. 4 meeting, the parties also reiterated their condemnation of any use of the indiscriminate weapons.

More than 90 of the 162 parties to the treaty, also known as the Ottawa Convention, attended the meeting, where they welcomed statements from Finland that it had completed destroying its landmine stockpile and from Mozambique that it had finished clearing all known landmine contamination.

They also highlighted commitments to people affected by landmines with a high-level session on victim assistance on the first day of the gathering. Led by Princess Astrid of Belgium, a special envoy of the Mine Ban Treaty, the discussion included statements by survivors of mine accidents in Afghanistan, Colombia, Mozambique, Thailand, and Uganda who have become leading advocates of victim assistance. Throughout the week, many delegates reiterated the need for continued victim support and involvement implicit in a session-framing question that Astrid posed in her remarks. “[M]ore countries will follow the example of Mozambique and will become ‘mine free,’ but will they become ‘victim free’ as well?” she asked.

The treaty requires states able to do so to provide “assistance for the care and rehabilitation, including the social and economic reintegration, of mine victims,” a novel commitment for weapons-related treaties when it was opened for signature in 1997.

Also central to the treaty is its ban on so-called victim-activated landmines, which detonate due to “the presence, proximity or contact of a person.” Certain victim-activated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that have been the cause of many recent casualties, especially in Afghanistan, are considered to fall under the treaty’s definition of antipersonnel landmines. The treaty does not ban landmines detonated by remote control.

Since the treaty entered into force in 1999, very few governments have used landmines banned by the agreement. Forces in Myanmar, North Korea, and Syria—all states not party to the accord—used the weapons between October 2014 and October 2015, according to the annual Landmine Monitor report. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a civil society coalition, released the report just prior to the meeting.

The report also found that nonstate actors had used landmines or IEDs that act as landmines during the same period in 10 countries: Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine, and Yemen. The last time the Landmine Monitor found nonstate groups using landmines in at least 10 countries was in 2006.

Parties addressed new use of landmines in the meeting’s final report, where they “condemned the use of antipersonnel mines by any actor.”

Ten states that are not treaty parties attended the meeting, with Sri Lanka indicating it might be the next country to join the accord. The United States, another nonparty, reiterated its policies, first announced in 2014, that ban the use of landmines outside the Korean peninsula and set a goal of “ultimately” acceding to the treaty. (See ACT, October 2014.)

Posted: January 14, 2016

Mozambique Declared Free of Landmines

Mozambique is “free of all known landmines,” Foreign Minister Oldemiro Júlio Marques Balói announced at a public event...

October 2015

By Jefferson Morley

A demining expert from the nongovernmental group Apopo searches for landmines in Tete province in Mozambique on November 20, 2013. (Photo credit: Apopo)Mozambique is “free of all known landmines,” Foreign Minister Oldemiro Júlio Marques Balói announced at a public event in the capital city of Maputo on Sept. 17.

The deadly anti-personnel mines, laid by all sides during a civil war that lasted from 1975 to 1992, made Mozambique into one of the most mined countries in the world. The government estimated recently that as many as 10,900 people had been killed or injured by landmines in the past 40 years.

The Mozambican landmine removal is “an impressive achievement,” said Megan Burke, director of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, in a Sept. 17 statement. “It also shows that if the right resources are employed in the right way, the majority of contaminated states can complete mine clearance within the next ten years.”

The first large-scale mine clearance effort in Mozambique was launched by the United Nations in 1993. The Halo Trust, a Scottish nongovernmental organization dedicated to landmine clearance, supported the effort. Halo said it has cleared more than 171,000 landmines from more than 1,100 minefields in Mozambique over the past 22 years, using manual and mechanical demining methods.

Apopo, a Belgian group involved in landmine clearance, said that it had assisted five provinces in the southern African country in eliminating the weapons since 2008. The group said that it had destroyed a total of 13,274 landmines, returning more than 11 million square meters of land to safe and productive use.

Landmine clearance “gives the children of this country a safe and peaceful life,“ said Cindy McCain, chairman of Halo’s U.S. chapter in a video released to commemorate the event.

Posted: October 1, 2015

U.S. Forswears Landmines Except in Korea

The United States announced on Sept. 23 that it would not use anti-personnel landmines (APLs) “outside the unique circumstances” of the Korean peninsula...

By Daryl G. Kimball

The United States announced on Sept. 23 that it would not use anti-personnel landmines (APLs) “outside the unique circumstances” of the Korean peninsula and would not “assist, encourage, or induce others to use, stockpile, produce or transfer” APLs anywhere beyond the peninsula. 

According to the State Department, the decision opens the way for the destruction of a significant portion of the estimated U.S. stockpile of 3 million APLs, except for those deemed necessary for the defense of South Korea. U.S. forces are stationed there to help guard against a North Korean attack. 

The newly announced measures “represent a further step to advance the humanitarian aims of the Ottawa Convention and to bring U.S. practice in closer alignment with a global humanitarian movement that has had a demonstrated positive impact in reducing civilian casualties” from APLs, the White House said in its Sept. 23 statement. The 1997 Ottawa Convention bans the use, development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, or transfer of APLs, as well as assisting or encouraging other states in those activities.

The announcement comes on the heels of a June statement in which the United States said it will not produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel munitions that are not compliant with the Ottawa Convention, including replacements for such munitions as they expire in the coming years. (See ACT, July/August 2014.) During a Sept. 23 telephone briefing, a senior administration official said the policy applies to all parts of the word, including the Korean peninsula.

According to the White House statement, the United States will continue to look for ways to “be compliant with” and “ultimately” to accede to the convention while ensuring that it can meet its defense commitments to South Korea. Officials speaking during the Sept. 23 briefing said that the Defense Department has been asked to produce a study on options to accomplish this.

Mine-ban advocates, including the United States Campaign to Ban Landmines, welcomed the announcement. In a Sept. 23 statement, the campaign called it a “positive step.” 

In a Sept. 23 press release, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called the announcement “a crucial step that makes official what has been de facto U.S. practice for a decade and a half. The White House has recognized what our NATO allies declared long ago: These inherently indiscriminate weapons that disproportionately harm civilians have no place in the 21st Century, and those who use them should be condemned.”

Leahy said the decision “brings U.S. policy closer to the international landmine ban treaty. It mirrors my legislation in 1997, cosponsored by 57 U.S. senators, including key Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate today.”

Posted: October 1, 2014

U.S. Formally Ends Landmine Production

Renouncing the production of landmines, the White House said the United States would seek approaches that eventually would allow it to join the global treaty banning such weapons.

Jefferson Morley

The U.S. government announced on June 27 that it will not produce or acquire anti-personnel landmines and that it intends to join the global Mine Ban Treaty at some point in the future, a stance that did not satisfy activists and officials pressing to rid the world of landmines.

The U.S. government is “diligently pursuing…solutions that would be compliant” with the treaty and “that would ultimately allow us to accede” to it, Douglas Griffiths, the U.S. ambassador to Mozambique, said in a statement delivered at a review conference for the treaty being held in Maputo. The parties to the treaty, which entered into force in 1999, hold these conferences every five years.

The week-long meeting was attended by more than 1,000 people from the treaty’s 161 parties and from international and nongovernmental organizations.

Supporters of the treaty voiced disappointment throughout the conference that the United States has yet to join the treaty, which President Barack Obama endorsed as a U.S. senator in 2007. Although U.S. officials told reporters that their review of U.S. landmine policy, which began five years ago, is not completed, the announced changes fell short of proponents’ hopes for U.S. accession to the treaty.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the most vocal proponent of the mine ban in Congress, called the policy changes “incremental but…significant.”

“The White House once and for all has put the United States on a path to join the treaty,” Leahy said in a June 27 statement. “An obvious next step is for the Pentagon to destroy its remaining stockpile of mines, which do not belong in the arsenal of civilized nations.”

Handicap International, which assists landmine victims in 33 countries, welcomed the change in U.S. policy in a June 27 statement, but said that, “without clear or immediate action deadlines, there is room for concern.”

The International Campaign to Ban Land Mines (ICBL) called the changes “a positive step,” but said the step “falls short of what is needed to ensure the weapons are never used again.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon criticized the United States and other holdouts in a June 24 statement that was delivered to the conference by Angela Kane, the UN high representative for disarmament affairs.

The goal of a world free of anti-personnel mines “has become an attainable reality,” Ban said in the statement. “But we cannot rest as long as anti-personnel mines continue to kill and maim. Some of the world’s largest countries with considerable stocks of anti-personnel landmines remain outside” the Mine Ban Treaty.

The office of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said in a June 27 statement that Dempsey still considers landmines “a valuable tool in the arsenal of the United States” but that he supports the policy shift.

“The chairman believes this decision on anti-personnel land mines, given our current stockpiles, protects current capabilities while we work towards a reliable and effective substitute,” the statement said.

The U.S. military has an active stockpile of slightly more than 3 million anti-personnel mines, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at a June 27 briefing. The utility of the landmines will start to decline in about 10 years, and the mines will be “completely unusable” after 20 years, he said.

In his remarks in Maputo, Griffiths said the United States is “conducting a high[-]fidelity modeling and simulation effort to ascertain how to mitigate the risks associated with the loss” of anti-personnel mines.

The United States and 35 other countries are not party to the treaty, but most of them abide by its key provisions, according to the ICBL. The Geneva-based group said only five countries have used anti-personnel mines since 2009: Israel, Libya, Myanmar, Russia, and Syria.

The United States, which has not produced new landmines since 1997, is the world’s largest donor to efforts to reduce the threat of landmines and explosive remnants of war, with $2.3 billion spent on mine action in the last two decades.

Declining Casualties

The treaty has dramatically reduced the number of people killed or maimed by landmines and explosive remnants of war, according to report released at the conference by the global watchdog Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor. In the first five years after the treaty and its provisions for clearing minefields entered into force, 31 countries reported 27,674 people were killed or wounded by landmines. Between 2009 and 2013, those countries reported 13,224 casualties, or less than half of the first five-year period.

In the past five years, Afghanistan had the most landmine casualties, followed by Cambodia and Colombia, according to the Monitor.

The study found that, since 1999, 48 percent of the victims of mines and explosive remnants of war have been children.

 

Posted: July 2, 2014

Progress Slow on Landmine Ban

Fifteen years after the global pact against landmines took effect, war, lack of funds, and politics hinder some efforts to clear anti-personnel

explosives.

Jefferson Morley

Fifteen years after the global Mine Ban Treaty entered into force, many countries plagued with explosives are struggling to meet their commitments to survey and clear contaminated areas.

After the latest meeting of the parties to the treaty in Geneva in April, 27 countries are seeking or have obtained extensions on their obligations under the treaty, according to the treaty’s implementation support unit. That is one fewer than the number of countries that have announced completion of their efforts to clear their land of buried munitions.

Under Article 5 of the treaty, states are required to clear all their landmine-affected areas within 10 years.

The states that have joined the treaty will meet June 23-27 in Mozambique to assess past progress and future challenges. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines says the number of states requesting extensions is now “alarmingly high.”

Demining in a War Zone

Three countries now seeking extensions—Eritrea, Yemen, and Zimbabwe—illustrate the challenges facing the effort to rid the world of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions.

In its extension request, Yemen’s National Mine Action Committee cited conditions of civil war, as well as money woes and inhospitable desert terrain, in requesting a five-year extension. Yemen still has at least 107 contaminated areas covering eight square kilometers, and 338 square kilometers of suspected hazardous territory that has yet to be evaluated, according to the committee.

Fighting between the Yemeni army and al Qaeda groups in 2011 in the governorates of Abyan, Sa’ada, Hajjah, Sana’a, and Amran has created a need for “survey operations to identify the extent of contamination. Successive conflicts have presented new and unexpected challenges with a resultant new and increased demand for mine action activities,” the committee stated.

The government’s Republican Guard laid thousands of landmines in Sana’a in 2011 in violation of the treaty, according to Human Rights Watch. Yemen has admitted the treaty violation, attributing it to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Yemen says the jihadist forces also have planted homemade anti-personnel landmines.

In the first nine months of 2013, Yemen’s demining authority reported seven accidents that killed seven people and injured nine others.

Eritrea’s Ordeal

Colonial occupation, civil war, and conflict with neighboring Ethiopia have left Eritrea with large swaths of territory contaminated with landmines. In its request for a five-year extension, the Eritrea Demining Authority claimed it had cleared 287 contaminated areas covering 74 square kilometers in the past three years. Nonetheless, the authority says Eritrea still has 434 areas covering 33.5 square kilometers that need to be resurveyed.

The victims of landmines are mostly residents of rural areas where children often herd animals, according to the authority. Nine people have been reported killed and 43 injured by landmines since 2011. Eighty percent of the victims were under 18 years of age.

Lack of funding is likely to continue to impede Eritrea’s efforts, according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. The country says its projected costs for the extension period will amount to $7.2 million, all to be raised nationally. In its extension request, Eritrea said it has stopped accepting international aid because its demining efforts are “more efficient” without assistance. For the last two years, Eritrea’s national contribution has been only $250,000.

Zimbabwe is requesting a three-year extension, the fourth extension it has sought since 2008. The country has 209 square kilometers of minefields that need to be cleared, according to the request from the Zimbabwean Mine Action Centre.

Zimbabwe received $1.7 million in international financial assistance for demining in 2013, the first time the country has received outside help since 1999, according to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Economic sanctions against the government of Robert Mugabe have blocked the country’s access to international institutions.

U.S. Position Under Review

The United States is not a party to the treaty, but U.S. policy toward landmines has been “under review” since 2009. In recent weeks, some observers have said they believe a decision is near.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), a supporter of the treaty, has made a series of floor speeches this year urging the Obama administration to endorse the pact.

“If landmines were littering this country—in schoolyards, along roads, in corn fields, in our national parks—and hundreds of American children were being crippled…how long would it take before the White House sent the Mine Ban Treaty to the Senate for ratification?” Leahy asked in an April 9 statement.

On March 6, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee that he considered self-destructing landmines to be “an important tool” in the U.S. arsenal. The U.S. position is that self-destructing mines are more humane, but they are prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty.

Dempsey said “the currency of the threat on the Korean peninsula” was a factor in his assessment.

Posted: May 1, 2014

Mine Policy Review Near End, U.S. Says

The Obama administration is nearing the end of its ongoing, three-year-long review of its landmine policy and expects to announce the results in 2013, a U.S. official said Dec. 6.

Daryl G. Kimball

The Obama administration is nearing the end of its ongoing, three-year-long review of its landmine policy and expects to announce the results in 2013, a U.S. official said Dec. 6.

In a prepared statement in Geneva delivered during the annual meeting of states-parties to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, Steven Costner, deputy director of the State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, said the United States “expect[s] to be able to announce a decision soon.” At a briefing later on Dec. 6, he specified that the decision would be announced before the parties’ 2013 meeting, scheduled to take place at the end of the year.

Part of the decision is whether Washington will join the convention, which prohibits the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of landmines. The United States, which has stockpiled approximately 10 million anti-personnel landmines, is one of a group of 36 countries, as well as the only NATO member, that has not yet joined the treaty. Since it entered into force in 1997, the treaty has mandated the destruction of tens of millions of anti-personnel mines and advanced programs to rehabilitate mine victims and survivors.

When he was a U.S. senator from Illinois, President Barack Obama was supportive of restricting procurement of victim-activated landmines. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama told Arms Control Today that he would “regain [U.S.] leadership” by “honoring U.S. commitments to seek alternatives to landmines.”

 

Posted: January 16, 2013

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