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former IAEA Director-General

Landmines

Mine Ban Membership Grows

The Mine Ban Treaty added two new members in December, as the convention marked 20 years since it was opened for signature

January/February 2018
By Jeff Abramson

The Mine Ban Treaty added two new members in December, as the convention marked 20 years since it was opened for signature. During their annual meeting, states-parties welcomed progress and addressed rising casualties, while reasserting a collective goal to meet the treaty’s obligations to the fullest extent possible by 2025.

Rohingya refugee Rashida Begum stands next to her son in a Bangladeshi hospital as he is treated September 30, 2017, after being injured by a landmine while fleeing Myanmar. (Photo: MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty Images)Sri Lanka acceded to the treaty Dec. 13, five days before the Dec. 18-21 meeting of states-parties held in Vienna. The Palestinian delegation announced its intention to accede as a states-party during the meeting, completing the process Dec. 29. The treaty will enter into force for both on June 1, bringing the convention to 164 states-parties.

At the meeting, delegations reacted to a report that casualties from landmines, cluster munition remnants, and other remnants of war had risen to at least 8,605 in 2016, the second year of sharp increases from the 3,993 casualties identified in 2014. The 2016 toll was near the number recorded in 1999, when the treaty entered into force. Much of the increase was due to mines used in armed conflicts in countries such as Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine, and Yemen, 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 use of landmines by armed forces in Myanmar along border crossings with Bangladesh and the resulting harm to fleeing Rohingya civilians drew international attention and outcry in 2017. The report identified Myanmar and Syria, neither of which is party to the treaty, as the only countries where it could be confirmed that government forces used landmines in the year prior to the meeting. Nonstate armed groups were responsible for much of the new use of mines, often improvised devices, in at least nine countries. Certain victim-activated improvised explosive devices are considered to fall under the treaty’s definition of anti-personnel landmines, which detonate due to “the presence, proximity or contact of a person.”

In response, delegates adopted a final report that again condemned any use of landmines. “On the 20th anniversary, there is no time for complacency,” said Austria’s Thomas Hajnoczi, who served as president of the meeting.

Approximately 60 countries have landmine contamination, more than half of which are states-parties to the treaty. During the meeting, delegates welcomed a declaration from Algeria that it had completed clearance, and they granted extension requests to five countries. Under the treaty, states have 10 years to clear contamination, but extensions are possible. The meeting also welcomed a declaration from Belarus that it had completely destroyed its stockpile of landmines, after it had missed its four-year deadline in 2008. In total, states-parties have destroyed more than 53 million anti-personnel landmines.

The United States, not party to the treaty, again attended the meeting as an observer as it has done since 2009. During the meeting, Steve Costner, deputy director of the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement at the U.S. State Department and head of the U.S. delegation confirmed to Arms Control Today that the U.S. landmine policy has remained unchanged. That policy, announced in 2014, disavowed production and acquisition of landmines prohibited by the treaty, permits their use only on the Korean peninsula, and set a goal to “ultimately comply with and accede” to the treaty. (See ACT, October 2014)

Suraya Dalil, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Switzerland and the United Nations in Geneva, will preside over the 2018 meeting, scheduled for Nov. 26-30 in Geneva. In concluding his statement, Hajnoczi said that “given the remaining challenges, redoubling our efforts to fulfill the aspiration is imperative to achieve a world free of anti-personnel mines by 2025.”

Posted: January 10, 2018

The Ottawa Convention: Signatories and States-Parties

January 2018

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

Updated: January 2018

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 January 2018, 164 countries (including Palestine) 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 61 states and areas have landmines on their territories as of November 2017.

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

Palestine

 

12/29/17

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

Sri Lanka

 

12/13/17

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: January 4, 2018

The Ottawa Convention at a Glance

January 2018

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

Updated: January 2018

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 January 2018, 164 states are party to the treaty, including Palestine.  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 61 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. Greece and Ukraine missed their deadlines to complete stockpile destruction.

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

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Posted: January 4, 2018

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...

Nigeria Clears Mined Areas

Nigeria announced on June 20 that it had cleared all mined areas from its territory, making it the 17th country to declare itself mine free.

Farrah Zughni

Nigeria announced on June 20 that it had cleared all mined areas from its territory, making it the 17th country to declare itself mine free.

The announcement came at the four-day meeting of the Mine Ban Treaty standing committees in Geneva. The agreement forbids the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of victim-activated anti-personnel mines.

In a separate June 20 statement, Nigeria reported it had destroyed 820 anti-personnel mines, 325 anti-vehicle mines, and 17,516 other explosive hazards—many of which, according to the government, were deployed during its conflict with the state of Biafra during the 1960s.

Nigeria said it would submit a formal clearance declaration at the 11th meeting of states-parties to the convention, scheduled to be held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2.

Separately at the Geneva conference, its president, Albanian diplomat Gazmend Turdiu issued a June 17 statement saying, “The use of anti-personnel mines in Libya will have devastating effects on civilians, [will] obstruct economic development and reconstruction and will inhibit the repatriation of internally displaced persons.”

In a June 27 e-mail to Arms Control Today, Kerry Brinkert, the director of the convention’s implementation support unit, said Turdiu “was expressing deep concern about all reports of anti-personnel mine use in Libya—by government forces and others.”

Both pro-regime and rebel forces in Libya have been accused of deploying landmines in recent months. (See ACT, May 2011.) Libya has not signed the Mine Ban Treaty.

 

Posted: July 7, 2011

Mine, Cluster Bomb Use Reported in Libya

There is evidence that the Libyan government has deployed both cluster munitions and landmines during recent clashes with rebels and that rebel groups have used landmines in the conflict despite pledges not to do so.

Xiaodon Liang and Farrah Zughni

Libyan pro-government forces fired mortar shells carrying cluster munitions over Misrata on the night of April 14, according to nongovernmental organizations.

Coming shortly after the Thai government was accused of using cluster munitions in early February, the Libyan case marks the second reported use of those weapons since the Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force last August. (See ACT, September 2010.) Libya and Thailand are not parties to the treaty.

Combatants aligned with Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi fired mortar rounds, “each of which carries and distributes 21 submunitions designed both to kill people and to penetrate light armor,” on civilian-occupied areas of Misrata, according to an April 15 article in The New York Times. The nongovernmental organization Human Rights Watch, which also reported the incident, found evidence of at least three separate cluster munition strikes and interviewed locals who claimed to have witnessed government use of submunitions prior to April 14.

The Obama administration did not comment on the incident until an April 21 press conference in Washington. At the event, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said, “Colonel Gaddafi’s troops continue their vicious attacks, including the siege of Misrata. There are even reports that Gaddafi forces may have used cluster bombs against their own people. In the face of this inhumanity, the international community remains united in our resolve.”

In an April 22 e-mail to Arms Control Today, a Department of State spokesman said the United States “will be working to verify” the reports that the Gaddafi regime used cluster munitions and landmines.

The Libyan government has denied using any cluster munitions. “We challenge them to prove it,” Musa Ibrahim, a Libyan government spokesman, told The Telegraph on April 17 when asked about the accusations. “To use these [cluster] bombs, you know, the evidence will remain for days and weeks. And we know the international community is coming en masse on our country soon. So we can’t do this.”

Human Rights Watch said it has confirmed that pro-regime fighters laid dozens of landmines, both anti-vehicle and anti-personnel, outside the Libyan city of Ajdabiya on March 30. The organization said it also observed plastic anti-vehicle mines left in Benghazi during government forces’ retreat from the city on March 19. Plastic mines are particularly difficult to remove after a conflict as they cannot be identified by metal detectors.

Anti-personnel landmines are prohibited under the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, the most comprehensive international agreement pertaining to landmines. Libya has not signed that treaty.

Rebels Accused of Landmine Use

As Libyan territory has fallen to rebel groups, so have some of the regime’s weapons caches, including landmine stockpiles. Although the amount of such weapons in government or rebel hands is unknown, Human Rights Watch reported that a UN demining expert found 12 warehouses containing tens of thousands of anti-vehicle mines at a single rebel-held military arms depot in Benghazi.

In a March 30 press release, Human Rights Watch reported that Gen. Khalifa Hufter, the commander of rebel forces in eastern Libya, had pledged March 25 that anti-regime forces would not deploy landmines during the conflict. Over the years, several nonstate armed groups have signed agreements or made unilateral declarations promising that they will not manufacture, deploy, or store anti-personnel landmines.

However, an April 19 BBC article reported that the news outlet had filmed rebels placing what were identified as PRB-M3 anti-tank mines near Ajdabiya just days before.

Although anti-vehicle mines are not prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty, some human rights advocates worry that rebels will rig the PRB-M3 with a more sensitive fuse. When used with such a fuse, “the PRB-M3 meets the definition of an antipersonnel mine under the international Mine Ban Treaty,” said Human Rights Watch special adviser Fred Abrahams in an April 20 e-mail to Arms Control Today.

Posted: May 3, 2011

Israel Passes Landmine Removal Bill

The Israeli Knesset last month approved a bill paving the way for the removal of “non-operational” anti-personnel landmines in Israel through the establishment of a national mine action authority.

Farrah Zughni

The Israeli Knesset last month approved a bill paving the way for the removal of “non-operational” anti-personnel landmines in Israel through the establishment of a national mine action authority.

The March 14 vote was 43 to 0.

The Minefield Clearance Act, which marks Israel’s first effort to address landmine contamination at the national level, limits demining to areas deemed “not essential to national security” by the authority. The exact number of deployed landmines is not known, but at least 33 square kilometers are believed to be affected, according to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, a nonprofit publication considered the authoritative source on landmines, cluster munitions, and other explosive remnants of war.

The legislation makes no mention of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, the most comprehensive international agreement pertaining to landmines. Israel is not a party to that pact. Unlike the Mine Ban Treaty, the act does not address the manufacture, trade, stockpiling, or future deployment of landmines.

Israel is party to another key international agreement—the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and its amended Protocol II, which regulates but does not prohibit landmine use. Israel declared a moratorium on the sale, transfer, and export of all anti-personnel mines in 1994 and has renewed the moratorium every three years since then. The size of the country’s landmine stockpile is not known.

The act’s passage took place one year after a mine detonation in the Golan Heights resulted in injuries to two Israeli children. One of them, Daniel Yuval, who was 11 years old at the time, underwent a leg amputation as a result. Yuval’s story and subsequent campaign efforts made headlines across Israel and beyond and are widely credited for the legislation’s ultimate success.

 

Posted: April 4, 2011

Mine Ban Treaty: Time for a Positive U.S. Decision

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Volume 2, Issue 2

March 1 marks the 12th anniversary of the 1999 entry into force of the Mine Ban Treaty, which seeks to eliminate the use of one of the most destructive and indiscriminate weapons of war. It has been over a year since the Barack Obama administration began a comprehensive review of its landmines policy. During those months, U.S. and international leaders have made a clear case that now is the time for the United States to join with the global consensus and accede to the treaty.

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Volume 2, Issue 2, February 28, 2011

March 1 marks the 12th anniversary of the 1999 entry into force of the Mine Ban Treaty, which seeks to eliminate the use of one of the most destructive and indiscriminate weapons of war. It has been over a year since the Barack Obama administration began a comprehensive review of its landmines policy. During those months, U.S. and international leaders have made a clear case that now is the time for the United States to join with the global consensus and accede to the treaty.
National and International Support
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 victim-activated anti-personnel landmines (APLs) worldwide. Opened for signature on December 3, 1997, today 156 countries are states-parties to Mine Ban Treaty, including all NATO members except the United States (Poland has signed and intends to ratify the treaty in 2012). The use of treaty-banned landmines has essentially ceased in all Western hemisphere countries with the exception of Cuba and the United States.
Last year, the Obama administration received significant support in for a decision to accede to the treaty, should it choose to do so. In May, a bipartisan group of 68 U.S. Senators wrote a joint letter stating:
"We are confident that through a thorough, deliberative review the Administration can identify any obstacles to joining the Convention and develop a plan to overcome them as soon as possible."
In November, a group of 16 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates called upon their fellow Nobel Laureate, Barack Obama, to bring the United States into the treaty regime. They said:
"We understand that policy deliberations can be complicated, particularly on military matters and arms control. Yet in this instance we believe that there is a clear case to be made for the moral and humanitarian imperative for the US to relinquish antipersonnel mines and join the Mine Ban Treaty - especially since it has closely followed the core obligations of the Mine Ban Treaty for many years now."
Also in 2010, leaders of 65 U.S. national nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and a large number of former senior military leaders wrote separate letters to President Obama encouraged him to join the treaty. In their letter to the President, NGO leaders wrote:
"The last steps to joining the treaty are now achievable, and vitally important to United States efforts to protect civilians during and after armed conflict, strengthen international norms, and isolate irresponsible regimes."
U.S. Policy
The United States is not known to have used antipersonnel landmines since 1991, has not exported them since 1992, and has not produced them since 1997. Despite significant military engagements in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military has found other solutions than to use the weapons banned by the Mine Ban Treaty.
President Bill Clinton sought to put the United States on a path to accede to the treaty by 2006. In 2004, the Bush administration announced that Washington would not join the treaty and set 2010 as the final year in which the United States would permit use of persistent landmines. Now, in 2011, that policy is in effect and the United States no longer plans to use so-called "dumb" landmines, even on the Korean peninsula.
Current U.S. policy does, however, allow for the use of so-called "smart" landmines, those equipped with self-destruct or self-deactivation mechanisms. Such landmines are barred under the treaty because they remain victim-activated and many have questioned the reliability of their safety features. The desire to retain the ability to use such landmines remains the primary difference between U.S. policy and Mine Ban Treaty requirements.
In November 2009, Obama administration officials made clear that they were conducting a comprehensive review of U.S. landmines policy and later that year officially attended as observers a Mine Ban Treaty annual states-parties meetings for the first time. Officials again attended the state-parties meeting in 2010.
The Mine Ban Treaty does not prohibit command-detonated, or so called "man in the loop" mines, which are not victim-activated. Such landmines exist and are in the U.S. stockpile.
Korea
Although potential future conflict in Korea has been cited as a reason to retain mines, such logic is outdated. Mines currently in place in South Korea are not under U.S. ownership and pose no barrier to U.S. accession to the treaty. If the United States were to accede to the treaty, it would be barred from emplacing new landmines and cooperating with any South Korean use of treaty-banned weapons, but otherwise would be able to maintain its military relationship with Seoul.
It is difficult to imagine how U.S. accession to the treaty would negatively impact defense activities in any realistic conflict scenario on the peninsula. U.S. and South Korea capabilities other than landmines are much more critical, especially given that Seoul's short-warning vulnerability would be to missiles or naval-based activities against which landmines serve no purpose.-JEFF ABRAMSON
Additional Resources on the Mine Ban Treaty:
"Mine Ban Treaty by the Numbers" Arms Control Association Issue Brief, Volume 1, Number 37, November 23, 2010.
http://www.armscontrol.org/issuebriefs/MineBanNumbers
"Momentum Building for U.S. Accession to the Mine Ban Treaty" Arms Control Association Issue Brief
, Volume 1, Number 6, May 25, 2010.
http://www.armscontrol.org/issuebriefs/MomentumForUSMineBanTreaty
Arms Control Association landmine resources page:
http://www.armscontrol.org/subject/24/date
March 1 marks the 12th anniversary of the 1999 entry into force of the Mine Ban Treaty, which seeks to eliminate the use of one of the most destructive and indiscriminate weapons of war. It has been over a year since the Barack Obama administration began a comprehensive review of its landmines policy. During those months, U.S. and international leaders have made a clear case that now is the time for the United States to join with the global consensus and accede to the treaty.

National and International Support

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 victim-activated anti-personnel landmines (APLs) worldwide. Opened for signature on December 3, 1997, today 156 countries are states-parties to Mine Ban Treaty, including all NATO members except the United States (Poland has signed and intends to ratify the treaty in 2012). The use of treaty-banned landmines has essentially ceased in all Western hemisphere countries with the exception of Cuba and the United States.

Last year, the Obama administration received significant support in for a decision to accede to the treaty, should it choose to do so. In May, a bipartisan group of 68 U.S. Senators wrote a joint letter stating:

"We are confident that through a thorough, deliberative review the Administration can identify any obstacles to joining the Convention and develop a plan to overcome them as soon as possible."

In November, a group of 16 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates called upon their fellow Nobel Laureate, Barack Obama, to bring the United States into the treaty regime. They said:

"We understand that policy deliberations can be complicated, particularly on military matters and arms control. Yet in this instance we believe that there is a clear case to be made for the moral and humanitarian imperative for the US to relinquish antipersonnel mines and join the Mine Ban Treaty - especially since it has closely followed the core obligations of the Mine Ban Treaty for many years now."

Also in 2010, leaders of 65 U.S. national nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and a large number of former senior military leaders wrote separate letters to President Obama encouraged him to join the treaty. In their letter to the President, NGO leaders wrote:

"The last steps to joining the treaty are now achievable, and vitally important to United States efforts to protect civilians during and after armed conflict, strengthen international norms, and isolate irresponsible regimes."  

U.S. Policy

The United States is not known to have used antipersonnel landmines since 1991, has not exported them since 1992, and has not produced them since 1997. Despite significant military engagements in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military has found other solutions than to use the weapons banned by the Mine Ban Treaty.

President Bill Clinton sought to put the United States on a path to accede to the treaty by 2006. In 2004, the Bush administration announced that Washington would not join the treaty and set 2010 as the final year in which the United States would permit use of persistent landmines. Now, in 2011, that policy is in effect and the United States no longer plans to use so-called "dumb" landmines, even on the Korean peninsula.

Current U.S. policy does, however, allow for the use of so-called "smart" landmines, those equipped with self-destruct or self-deactivation mechanisms. Such landmines are barred under the treaty because they remain victim-activated and many have questioned the reliability of their safety features. The desire to retain the ability to use such landmines remains the primary difference between U.S. policy and Mine Ban Treaty requirements.

In November 2009, Obama administration officials made clear that they were conducting a comprehensive review of U.S. landmines policy and later that year officially attended as observers a Mine Ban Treaty annual states-parties meetings for the first time. Officials again attended the state-parties meeting in 2010.

The Mine Ban Treaty does not prohibit command-detonated, or so called "man in the loop" mines, which are not victim-activated. Such landmines exist and are in the U.S. stockpile.

Korea

Although potential future conflict in Korea has been cited as a reason to retain mines, such logic is outdated. Mines currently in place in South Korea are not under U.S. ownership and pose no barrier to U.S. accession to the treaty. If the United States were to accede to the treaty, it would be barred from emplacing new landmines and cooperating with any South Korean use of treaty-banned weapons, but otherwise would be able to maintain its military relationship with Seoul.

It is difficult to imagine how U.S. accession to the treaty would negatively impact defense activities in any realistic conflict scenario on the peninsula. U.S. and South Korea capabilities other than landmines are much more critical, especially given that Seoul's short-warning vulnerability would be to missiles or naval-based activities against which landmines serve no purpose.-JEFF ABRAMSON

Additional Resources on the Mine Ban Treaty:

"Mine Ban Treaty by the Numbers" Arms Control Association Issue Brief, Volume 1, Number 37, November 23, 2010.

"Momentum Building for U.S. Accession to the Mine Ban Treaty" Arms Control Association Issue Brief, Volume 1, Number 6, May 25, 2010.

Arms Control Association landmine resources page.

Subject Resources:

Posted: February 28, 2011

At Mine Ban Meeting, U.S. Still Mum on Policy

For the second year in a row, the United States sent an official delegation to the annual meeting of parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, but Washington has not indicated whether it will join

Farrah Zughni and Jeff Abramson

For the second year in a row, the United States sent an official delegation to the annual Mine Ban Treaty states-parties meeting but has not indicated whether it will join the accord.

The conference, which took place in Geneva Nov. 29-Dec. 3, focused on progress made under the treaty and on reviewing extension requests from states-parties struggling to meet mine clearance deadlines. Approximately 700 delegates representing more than 100 countries joined dozens of international organizations at the event.

The treaty, also known as the Ottawa Convention, calls on members to cease the production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines, destroy stockpiles of the weapons, and remove deployed landmines from their territories.

During the conference, the United States issued a brief statement saying that its review of its landmine policy, initiated in 2009, was still ongoing. (See ACT, January/February 2010.) The United States attended the 2009 conference in an official capacity for the first time. During the 2010 meeting, 16 Nobel laureates sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to join the convention; the administration has issued no formal response.

In a Dec. 17 interview, a U.S. official said that although the policy review was not bound by any specific deadline, the United States would meet its commitment, announced in 2004, to terminate the use of “persistent” anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines by the end of 2010. A persistent, or “dumb,” landmine does not self-destruct or deactivate and can remain armed until triggered or professionally removed.

So-called smart mines, which have self-destruct or self-deactivation mechanisms, are permitted under U.S. policy but are banned by the treaty. (See ACT, March 2004.) Still, the United States is not known to have deployed treaty-prohibited landmines since 1992 and is the world’s top funder of landmine clearance and victim assistance activities.

The treaty specifically bans victim-activated anti-personnel landmines but does not address command-detonated, or “man in the loop,” mines, which require a human to decide when to detonate them.

Under the treaty, countries have 10 years from the time the pact enters into force for them to clear areas of anti-personnel mines and four years to destroy their stockpiles, with the exception of “the minimum number absolutely necessary” for “the development of and training in mine detection, mine clearance, or mine destruction techniques.” Meeting those deadlines has been a challenge for a number of treaty parties, with many requesting and receiving extensions. (See ACT, January/February 2009; ACT January/February 2008.)

Nonetheless, at the conference Nicaragua formally declared it had completed its clearance obligations under the pact, making it the 16th country reporting mine-afflicted territories to do so. Nicaragua’s original deadline was May 1, 2009, but it received a one-year extension in 2008. The country reportedly has cleared 1,029 mine-afflicted areas and destroyed more than 179,000 anti-personnel mines.

Six parties—Chad, Colombia, Denmark, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, and Zimbabwe—applied for and received extensions on their mine clearance obligations. Guinea-Bissau’s two-month extension request was the shortest of the year; the country is slated to complete landmine clearance in January 2012. Colombia, on the other hand, was granted the outer limit of the treaty’s extension, 10 years. Other requests ranged from 18 months to five years. This was the second extension request for Chad, Denmark, and Zimbabwe, which were initially granted extensions until 2011.

Since the treaty entered into force in 1999, 22 countries have invoked Article 5 of the treaty, under which any party that “believes it will be unable to destroy or ensure the destruction of all anti-personnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control within 10 years” may request an extension of up to 10 years.

A report issued at the meeting suggests that the treaty parties will continue facing the decision of whether to grant clearance extensions. According to the report, which outlines the process for handling Article 5 extension requests, “some requesting States Parties, almost ten years after entry into force, still lacked clarity regarding ‘the location of all mined areas that contain, or are suspected to contain, anti-personnel mines under (their) jurisdiction or control.’”

One country, the Republic of Congo, was singled out in the review conference’s final report because it has neither confirmed nor denied that it will meet its Article 5 deadline of this Nov. 1. The document urged that the Republic of Congo provide “clarity on this matter as soon as possible.”

Currently, 15 countries have clearance deadlines expiring within the next three years.

Although landmine clearance has posed challenges to certain countries, the treaty has made significant strides in reducing landmine stockpiles globally. Of the 156 states currently party to the treaty, 152 have completely eliminated or reduced their stockpiles to treaty-permitted minimums. Belarus, Greece, and Turkey failed to meet stockpile destruction deadlines in 2008, as did Ukraine last June, leaving all four in violation of the treaty.

The 11th meeting of treaty parties is scheduled to take place in Cambodia this November.

 

Posted: January 10, 2011

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