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.