Today, on 1 March 2016, it is 17 years ago that the international Mine Ban Treaty entered into force. This live-saving treaty banning production, use, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines has since been joined by 162 countries.
By Suzanne Oosterwijk and Maaike Beenes
The 2015 Landmine Monitor – the annual research by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL)- reports that the amount of incidents (3,678 over 2014) has increased somewhat since the previous report, but is nevertheless the second lowest since the start of reporting in 1999.
Still, approximately 10 people were reported as victims every single day in 2014. 80% of victims are civilians, and 39% are children. This shows the necessity to clear remaining mine fields and the continuing relevance of the treaty, to which 35 countries have not yet acceded. This includes for example the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Clearing mined areas
The last years have seen major progress in clearing mined areas. In 2015, Colombia and the FARC movement signed a deal to clear mines in Colombia. Colombia is one of the most heavily mine contaminated countries in the world, and the deal between FARC and the government is crucial for the clearance of the country. Also, Mozambique declared to be free of mines.
With the declaration by Mozambique in September 2015, 29 countries in total have now declared to be free of landmines. In 2014, over 230,000 anti-personnel and 11,500 antivehicle mines were destroyed, resulting in 200km2 of land cleared. This happened mostly in Afghanistan, Cambodia and Croatia.
However, as of October 2015, 57 states are still left with confirmed mine contamination. The most severe contamination exists in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Western Sahara, Chad, Angola, Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Thailand and Cambodia (See map below, source: Landmine Monitor 2015).
Pledging for a world free of landmines: #finishthejob2025
More needs to be done to ensure a world free from landmines. On 2 March, countries that have joined the MBT will meet in Geneva for the First International Pledging Conference. The purpose of the meeting is to intensify states’ efforts to states to complete their convention obligations by 2025. That means: clear mined areas, provide assistance to victims and destroy stockpiles.
The Netherlands pledged €45 million for a 4 year period to clear mined areas. Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders stated that the Netherlands wants “the world to take serious action on demining” and it is leading by example.
A world free of landmines by 2025 is possible if states take efficient action and provide sufficient resources. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, of which PAX is a member, therefore calls on states parties to finish the job!