March 1, 2021 marks 22 years since the life saving Mine Ban Treaty entered into force following much hard work and the cooperative efforts of civil society, the ICRC, States and the United Nations.
We celebrate the progress made, lives saved and rights ensured for landmine survivors since the treaty became international law. We also welcome renewed commitment by States and the mine ban community at large, towards a Mine Free 2025.
Sometimes referred to as the Ottawa Convention, the Mine Ban Treaty is officially titled: the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction. It was adopted in 1997 and it entered into force on March 1st, 1999.
When a country joins the Mine Ban Treaty, they commit to:
never use antipersonnel mines, nor to develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain, or transfer them
destroy mines in their stockpiles within four years
clear all mined areas in their territory within 10 years
in mine-affected countries, conduct mine risk education and ensure the exclusion of civilians from mined areas
provide assistance for the care and rehabilitation, and social and economic reintegration, of mine victims
offer assistance to other States Parties, for example in providing for survivors or contributing to clearance programs
adopt national implementation measures (such as national legislation) to ensure that the terms of the treaty are upheld in their territory
report annually on progress in implementing the treaty.
PSALM’s newest members display a banner for a new campaign push to bring the United States to the Mine Ban Treaty. PSALM students initiated a postcard campaign to the US Congress asking support for the Mine Ban Treaty.
Students are also preparing for their art exhibit, “THE LIGHT WITHIN” dedicated to “enlightening” the public about landmines and cluster munitions and the need for ALL countries to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Treaty.
Released on the 25th of November, 2020, this report provides a 10-year review of developments in addressing the global cluster munitions problem, with information included up to September 2020. Profiles published online provide additional country-specific findings on these topics. Thematic maps are also published in the report and available online.
This is the 11th annual Cluster Munition Monitor report.
As well as a 10-year review, Cluster Munition Monitor 2020 covers cluster munition ban policy, use, production, transfers, and stockpiling globally, and also contains information on the impact of cluster munition contamination and casualties, as well as developments and challenges in addressing such impact through clearance, risk education and victim assistance.
THIS IS AN EXCELLENT RESOURCE! FOLLOW THE LINK BELOW FOR MORE INFORMATION AND COUNTRY PROFILES:
The Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Review Conference begins this week in a first ever virtual format, due to COVID19 response measures. The meeting, hosted by Convention Presidency Switzerland, will be held in two parts: from 25-27 November; and 4-5 February 2021 in hybrid format at the UN Palais des Nations in Geneva.
CMC campaign members from around the world will join Switzerland and Convention stakeholders for the three-day meeting and discussion of the Lausanne Action Plan for a world free of clustermunitions.
Follow the meeting live from 25 to 27 November, on the UN Web TV!
Throughouth the year CMC has been working closely with the Presidency and CCM stakeholders to gain wider visibility for the treaty and the horrendous impact of cluster munitions, and help push plans for as many ratifications and accessions as possible this year, in accordance with the Dubrovnik Action Plan and draft Lausanne Action Plan.
We’re calling on ALL states to join this life saving treaty immediately to prevent further death and suffering from internationally banned cluster munitions.
Five years ago, at the last Review Conference, States committed in the Dubrovnik Action Plan that they would strive to increase the number of States Parties to 130 by the 2RevCon. To date 121 states have endorsed the goals of the Convention, of which 108 have become States Parties and 13 still remain Signatories. This means we need to bring onboard another 22 countries to achieve the Dubrovnik goal!
We are asking Cluster Munition Coalition members to reach out to governments globally and call on those states not on board the Convention, to Join Now and put an end to the death and suffering caused by these weapons. You can find a template letter here. For more information contact CMC Advocacy and Campaigns Manager: email@example.com.
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is heartened by news this week from the 18th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty that Chile and the United Kingdom have successfully completed their landmine clearance obligations under the treaty. With the two announcements, this brings to 31 the number of States Parties which were once contaminated and are now free of anti-personnel landmines.
The mine-free 2025 goal established at the Maputo Review Conference and reaffirmed last year in Oslo is that much closer.
PSALM/WVCBL are thrilled with this news and hope others will follow!
States Parties met this week to measure progress against targeted goals agreed to at the December 2019 Review Conference, including among others: clearing contaminated land as quickly as possible; destroying stockpiled mines; preventing new casualties through implementation of mine risk education activities; and increasing resources and assistance available to speed progress towards mine free status.
The conference took place in a virtual format for the first time as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the global agenda. Despite the technical challenges, this Meeting of States Parties successfully took stock of progress and challenges in mine action and saw the participation of national mine action authorities as well as campaigners and survivors from all around the world.
The extensive discussion and declarations this week by States Parties, ICBL campaigners from around the world, partners, and the Mine Ban Treaty Presidency (Sudan), on the need for increased support for landmine victims, as a central pillar of effective mine action efforts, was highly welcomed. Landmine Monitor 2020reported that some 8% of international funding went to assist victims of the weapon in 2019, while significant gaps remain in access to economic opportunities for survivors and other persons with disabilities in many of the States Parties. This situation was exacerbated in 2019 with survivors and persons with disabilities at greater risk of discrimination in accessing healthcare due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Monitor and UN research.
Ensuring the full, equal and effective participation of mine survivors and victims in society, as agreed by States in the Oslo Action Plan, requires diligent follow up to ensure no one is left behind.
Several treaty compliance concerns were raised during the week regarding mines inappropriately retained for training, stockpile destruction deadlines, delayed action or non-action on mine clearance, poor reporting, and lack of national implementation measures. Nine mine clearance extension requests were presented during the week; notably absent was a request from State Party Eritrea as required under the treaty. ICBL together with several States and the Treaty President urged Eritrea to meet its obligations immediately as non-compliance weakens the treaty norm.
These compliance issues demand immediate and robust action by all States Parties to ensure progress achieved to date is not derailed.
The global stigma against landmine use remains strong including among most states not party; even in this difficult year 10 non-signatory states attended the meeting. In recent years, only one government armed force is confirmed to have used antipersonnel mines—Myanmar. However, we have also seen a continued high number of casualties recorded in 2019 as a result of intensive armed conflict involving the large-scale use of improvised mines, and mine use by non-state armed groups in at least six countries.
The mine clearance progress reported by States this year – 156 km2 vs 146 km2 in 2018, illustrates the huge impact this treaty continues to have on mine-affected communities around the world.
The clear will demonstrated by States this week for combined efforts to meet the mine free 2025 goals outlined in the Oslo Action Plan, must be met with well-defined commitments including through cooperative assistance and other means, to convert these aspirations to achievements.
We join the International community in expressing outrage and sadness over the use of cluster munitions in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has repeatedly used widely banned cluster munitions in residential areas in Nagorno-Karabakh, Human Rights Watch said today. During an on-site investigation in Nagorno-Karabakh in October 2020, Human Rights Watch documented four incidents in which Azerbaijan used cluster munitions.Fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia and the de-facto authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh dramatically escalated on September 27, 2020. Two humanitarian ceasefires brokered by members of the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe have failed to halt the fighting. According to authorities from all parties, scores of civilians have been killed or injured in attacks in Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Azerbaijan.
“The continued use of cluster munitions – particularly in populated areas – shows flagrant disregard for the safety of civilians,” said Stephen Goose, arms division director at Human Rights Watch and chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition. “Cluster munitions should never be used by anyone under any circumstances, much less in cities, due to the foreseeable and unacceptable harm to civilians.”
In the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, Human Rights Watch is investigating whether all sides of the conflict adhere to international humanitarian law, which requires armed forces to distinguish between combatants and civilians, and between military objects and civilian objects, at all times. As such, indiscriminate attacks are prohibited, including attacks which employ a method or means of combat which cannot be directed at a specific legitimate military target. Human Rights Watch has made repeated requests to the Azerbaijani government for access to conduct on-site investigations, but access has not yet been granted.
Human Rights Watch examined remnants of the rockets, impacts, and remnants of submunitions that exploded, as well as dud submunitions that failed to function at several locations in Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh’s administrative center, which is called Khankendi in Azerbaijan. Human Rights Watch also examined photographs taken in the town of Hadrut of a rocket, impacts, and remnants of submunitions that exploded, and a dud submunition that failed to explode. Human Rights Watch also spoke to six people who witnessed the attacks. Azerbaijani officials have accused the Armenian side of using cluster munitions in this conflict, but Human Rights Watch has not independently verified those claims.
Residents of Stepanakert told Human Rights Watch that attacks using cluster munitions began on the morning of September 27 in a residential area no more than 200 meters from the office of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
She said that a number of submunitions did not explode and that people in the neighborhood covered them with sand from the children’s playground until emergency responders came the next day to secure and remove them. She said glass broken from the blasts injured a number of people in the neighborhood. Another resident told Human Rights Watch that dozens of vehicles were damaged.
On October 12, Human Rights Watch visited the site and, in addition to the distinctive impacts of the submunitions, Human Rights Watch observed several damaged and burned vehicles and numerous broken windows in nearby apartments and a shop located in the courtyard. However, the exact damage to the area done by the submunitions is unknown because another subsequent attack was carried out with a different munition in roughly the same location.
At least one more LAR-160 cluster munition rocket was fired roughly into the same area several hundred meters away. Human Rights Watch observed the remnants of a LAR-160 rocket, scores of the distinctive impacts of the M095 submunitions, the remnants of the pink-colored stabilization ribbons, and submunition fragments. Numerous buildings, private business, and markets had varying degrees of damage from the attack.
Human Rights Watch spoke to one worker for a nongovernmental group who observed a fire in a shop following an attack in this second neighborhood when he visited the site at approximately 11:20 p.m. on October 3. Human Rights Watch also reviewed a photograph taken by this witness that, according to the photograph’s metadata, was captured on October 3 at 11:20 p.m.
Human Rights Watch also examined 35 photographs and one video shared directly with Human Rights Watch from the town of Hadrut of a LAR-160 rocket and its fuse, impacts, and remnants of M095 submunitions that exploded, and dud submunitions that failed to explode in and around a home. According to the metadata of the media, they were recorded on October 3. Human Rights Watch verified the location of the video and photographs as taken in the town of Hadrut. On October 4, a video was uploaded on YouTube by the Armenian Service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that showed the same house and remnants.
Regardless of specific treaty obligations, all parties to the conflict are bound by the Geneva Conventions and customary international law and must abide by the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law, which requires armed forces to distinguish between combatants and civilians, and between military objects and civilian objects, at all times. It is also forbidden to carry out indiscriminate attacks or attacks that cause excessive civilian damage to the anticipated concrete military advantage.
“The repeated use of cluster munitions by Azerbaijan should cease immediately as their continued use serves to heighten the danger for civilians for years to come,” Goose said.
Additional information about cluster munitions attacks in Nagorno-Karabakh
Human Rights Watch identified the remnants of Israeli-produced LAR-160 series cluster munition rockets and unexploded M095 dual-purpose submunitions in Stepanakert and Hadrut. Each rocket carries 104 submunitions and each submunition is equipped with a self-destruct mechanism. Azerbaijan received these surface-to-surface rockets and launchers from Israel in 2008–2009. Neither Armenia, nor Nagorno-Karabakh de-facto authorities, are known to stockpile cluster munitions but they possess multi-barrel rocket launchers capable of delivering these weapons.
Human Rights Watch identified the Israeli-produced M095 dual-purpose submunition in each location. When this submunition detonates on impact, it produces lethal pre-formed metal fragments and a jet of molten metal intended to destroy vehicles and materiel. Human Rights Watch observed hundreds of the distinctive impacts of M095 submunitions as well as remnants of the pink-colored nylon stabilization ribbons in three neighborhoods in Stepanakert.
On October 13, Human Rights Watch visited the site where the witness saw and photographed the burning shop at 11:20 p.m. on October 3 and observed the same scorched building visible in the photograph and at least three pink stabilization ribbons a few meters away from the building as well as numerous distinctive impacts consistent with M095 submunitions. Human Rights Watch found remnants of a LAR-160 rocket 10 meters from the building and observed impacts to the roof of the building that were consistent with kinetic damage. According to available satellite imagery, the attack took place between September 27 and October 8. On October 8, the imagery shows damage to the building that is consistent with fire.
In the attack on Hakob Hakobyan Street, the distinctive auditory signature of at least three separate rockets dispersing payloads of submunitions, and their subsequent detonations can be heard in the video of the attack, believed to have been filmed by a vehicle’s dashcam. On October 12, Human Rights Watch visited the site where the video was taken and counted over 100 individual impacts on the same street. Human Rights Watch also observed scores of submunition impacts on immediately adjacent streets and on rooftops of office and residential buildings on several adjacent streets within a 100-meter radius. In a separate visit on October 13, Human Rights Watch found the remnants of a LAR-160 series rocket less than 100 meters from the location the video of the attack was taken. Human Rights Watch observed damage to power lines, children’s playgrounds, vehicles, businesses, homes, the main post office, and the Karabakh Telecom building.
PSALM students are determined to see the US join the Mine Ban Treaty. During school closure due to Covid, students sent over 150 postcards to members of Congress asking for support for the United States to join the Mine Ban Treaty. Students are dedicated since their founding in 1999 to this cause. PLEASE join PSALM/WVCBL in contacting members of Congress.
Niue deposited its instrument of accession to the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 6 August. Congratulations to Niue on becoming the 109th State Party! PSALM students participated in remote campaigning while out of school sending postcards to countries, including Niue, encouraging them to accend the treaty.
With the Second Review Conference just a few months away and as we just celebrated the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the total ban on cluster munitions, the accession of Niue is an encouraging step forward and sets an example for the Pacific states which have yet to join the life-saving ban.
To date, 122 states have endorsed the goals of the convention, of which 109 are States Parties and 13 still remain signatories. As set out in the Dubrovnik Action Plan, the aim is to reach 130 States Parties by November 2020.
In the Pacific region, eight states have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions – Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau and Samoa – while eight states remain outside of the convention – Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Niue is not known to have ever used, produced, transferred or stockpiled cluster munitions. The convention will enter into force for Niue on 1 February 2021
Ten years ago, on 1 August, the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) became international law, paving the way for clearance of contaminated communities, destruction of stockpiles, and establishing the international norm banning all use and solidifying global condemnation of the weapon. The CCM was also the first multilateral treaty to include provisions for assistance to victims as a formal obligation for all States Parties with victims.
At the time, Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) spokesperson Branislav Kapetanović, from Serbia, reflected that only a few years before, the idea of banning cluster bombs seemed an impossible dream.
“What this treaty shows is that ordinary people, including cluster bomb survivors like me, can be a part of extraordinary changes that bring real improvements to people’s lives all over the world,” said Kapetanović, a military munitions clearance specialist and cluster munition survivor, and now CMC Ambassador.
In the past ten years, some 1.5 million cluster munitions have been destroyed by 35 States Parties to the Convention. This means 99 per cent of the total global cluster munition stocks declared have been destroyed and can no longer kill or injure civilians – overwhelmingly the victims of cluster munitions, with a large proportion of these being children. Eleven countries in all, and nine States Parties, have also completed clearing their territory of cluster remnants, ensuring that their citizens are safe from this deadly legacy.
These gains are a testament to the collective power of states committed to end the suffering caused by cluster munitions, and to the promise of the Convention.
That promise is not yet fulfilled; ongoing use by the Syrian Government against civilians is a grim reminder of the toll cluster munitions are still taking. The legacy of suffering still being sown highlights the imperative to make every effort to stop all use immediately and loudly condemn use of the weapon anywhere, by anyone.
There were 108 countries on board when the Convention entered into force ten years ago,
Today, that number has grown to 121 countries. That progress falls short of the target of 130 States Parties by 2020, established at the First Review Conference of the CCM, and points to a need for new energy and commitment in order to ensure stigmatization against these nefarious weapons and the continued life-saving success of the Convention. The Cluster Munition Coalition is working steadfastly with stakeholders to bring states not party onboard as a matter of urgency.
The Convention will hold its Second Review Conference in November 2020 in Switzerland and the CMC is making all efforts to communicate the importance of the treaty to protecting civilians and promoting international humanitarian law.
Our message to states not party to the Convention is clear: join the CCM, help save lives, ensure survivors’ rights, prevent future suffering, and support livelihoods.
The US announced its new landmine policy on January 31, 2020.
The new policy permits US troops to use antipersonnel landmines anywhere in the world at any time and allows the US to resume production of antipersonnel mines.
The US Administration cancelled the Obama Administration’s policy to prohibit United States military forces from employing antipersonnel landmines outside of the Korean Peninsula, to prohibit production and acquisition of antipersonnel mines, and to establish the goal of joining the Mine Ban Treaty.
Photo: Facing Finance Germany event responding to US policy shift.
Why is this important?
This is a complete and deplorable reversal of previous US policy which prohibited the production and acquisition of antipersonnel landmines, as well as their use outside of a future conflict in the Korean Peninsula.
What can you do?
Send a letter to President Trump and his Administration NOW!
Here you will find a template deploring these actions – you just need to include the information that is highlighted in yellow, go to this link: https://bit.ly/2Uracp8 complete the registration form and copy and paste the template that is in the attached file in the box comment ‘what would you like to say’.
Request a meeting with the US Embassy in your country to discuss the decision to cancel the policy to eliminate all antipersonnel landmines.
Here you will find a letter template to send to the US Embassy in your country requesting such meeting, you just need to include the information that is highlighted in yellow. During the meeting with your Embassy you can also share that same letter.
If you don’t manage to get a meeting with the US Embassy in your country, you can still take action by sending a copy of the letter that you send to the Whitehouse web page, to the Ambassador’s email.
Speak up on social media and condemn this deplorable reversal of previous US policy.
Encourage your government (if a State Party to the Treaty) to issue a public statement against this step and to engage with the US bilaterally on this matter.
The ICBL has requested a meeting with the US Ambassador in Geneva and has been engaging actively with the coordination committee members and other champion states to ensure that they issue public statements and engage bilaterally with the US Government, we have also provided talking points on this decision. Letter sent to the Trump Administration.
The Mine Ban Treaty President (Sudan), in addition to Austria, Belgium, Germany, European Union, France, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Lloyd Axworthy (former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs), US Senators, the ICRC, Unicef USA, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and other Mine Ban Treaty champions have issued statements calling on the US to reverse its decision. Additional states and regional groups and organizations are encouraged to issue statements.
If you are unable to get a meeting with the US Embassy?
Send a letter to the US Embassy calling for rejection of the new policy.
When and where will the action take place?
As soon as possible and in every country possible.
What issues should you discuss during the meeting?
Introduce your organization and explain that the meeting is part of ICBL´s global action.
Explain why the US landmine policy is important to the citizens of your country e.g. as an affected country, as a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty, as a global humanitarian imperative, etc.
The cancellation of the policy that eliminates all antipersonnel landmines reverses years of steady steps toward alignment with the Mine Ban Treaty.
Most of the states that at one time used, stockpiled, produced or transferred antipersonnel landmines, have ratified or acceded to the treaty.
The majority of states that are or have been affected by antipersonnel mines, have ratified or acceded to the treaty.
Using landmines, which have claimed so many lives and limbs, is not justified by any country or group under any circumstances.
In recent years landmines have only been used by regimes known for gross human rights violations in Burma and Syria, and by non-state armed groups like ISIS.
[YOUR COUNTRY] was able to remove antipersonnel mines from its arsenal without compromising its national security, and this had also worked for the US in the past. Clearly, the humanitarian benefits of banning the weapons far outweigh the minimal military utility.
The US has not used antipersonnel mines since 1991, has not exported them since 1992, has not produced them since 1997, and has destroyed millions of stockpiled mines.
The weapon has little or no military value to the US forces today as shown by the simple fact that the US did not use antipersonnel mines of any kind for the past 20 years in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq or any other location, during both high and low intensity conflicts. But again, the political costs of the US using antipersonnel mines today would be very high. Key US allies have joined the Mine Ban Treaty.
The so-called smart or non-persistent mines equipped with self-destruct and self-deactivating mechanisms still pose humanitarian danger and are by no means safe for civilians. While smart mines are active, they cannot distinguish between an enemy combatant and an innocent civilian, furthermore, their self-destruct mechanisms have an estimated failure rate of 1 to 10%.
PSALM and of the Cluster Munition Coalition, a global network in some 100 countries working to end the suffering caused by cluster munitions, and the Convention on Cluster Munitions without delay. As we faces the COVID-19 pandemic together with the rest of the world, multilateral action to ensure a safe and secure public, and international solidarity is more important than ever. In these challenging times, the world needs good news. We are calling on the U.S. to step up its efforts to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions as soon as circumstances allow and to join the 108 States Parties this year at the Second Review Conference taking place November 23-27 in Lausanne, Switzerland.
This landmark meeting takes place ten years after the Convention came into force and is an opportunity for States Parties to assess progress made to date and establish a roadmap for the work ahead. Cluster munitions kill indiscriminately at the time of their use and long after the end of hostilities and as such are incompatible with the principles of International Humanitarian Law. Over 90% of recorded cluster munition victims are civilians.
CMC members, including PSALM/WVCBL have been busy advocating for states to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions, as we prepare for the Second Review Conference. A number of CMC actions were launched around the April 4th International Day for Mine Action and Mine Awareness including:
CMC sent letters to all states not party to the Convention while national campaigns contacted their respective governments and/or relevant embassies urging states to join the Convention without delay.
Targeted outreach to 28 priority countries in coordination with the Convention universalization lead
PSALM students are romotely campaigning by sending postcards to members of the U.S. Congress seeking support for the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Trump adminsitration’s back tracking on US landmine policies.