Sunday 1 March marked the day that the international Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) entered into force sixteen years ago. To date, 162 countries have joined this treaty that bans the production, use, stockpiling and transer of antipersonel mines and that saves lives and limbs. The good news: the number of victims is historically low. However, we must not rest until the whole world is free of landmines.
The Landmine Monitor 2014, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines’ research arm, recently showed that the number of victims caused by landmines and other unexploded remnants of war is historically low. In 2013, there were 9 victims per day, the lowest number of victims ever recorded by the Monitor. The Mine Ban Treaty entered into force sixteen years ago last Sunday.
However, use of landmines by countries that have not (yet) joined the treaty, such as Syria and Myanmar, are cause for great concern. There have been reports of landmine use in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, although, the Monitor stated it was not possible to determine whether antipersonnel mines had been used or by whom.
Ukraine has joined the Mine Ban Treaty but it has not yet destroyed all its landmines.
One wrong step
As per October 2014, 28 countries have declared themselves free of landmines. This means that areas where unexploded landmines were still posing a threat to civilians are now safely accessible again. No more fear of one wrong and catastrophic step. Yet, far too many lives are still at stake because of landmines. There are still some 56 countries and 4 areas with landmine contamination. For the majority of these it should be possible to clear contaminated land once and for all within the next five years.
‘Finish the job’
The Mine Ban Treaty came about because states decided: we need to end the unacceptable humanitarian harm these weapons cause. It is one of the most significant disarmament treaties and has been effective. Still, its success does not mean the job is finished. Rather, it means that states must not rest until Landmines are completely eradicated. That is why last year the ‘Commit to Complete’ challenge was initiated.
The challenge’s motto is ‘finish the job’: ensure that all stockpiles are destroyed, clear all contaminated areas, ensure adequate assistance for victims. The call to the countries that have not yet joined the ban treaty is: join the MBT without delay. Campaigners worldwide, united in the ICBL, are calling on states to finish what they started.