n 18 September 1997, nations from around the world came together in Oslo to adopt the Mine Ban Treaty. Today we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the treaty!
Banning landmines would have not been possible without great partnerships among civil society and governments. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said “if the Mine Ban Treaty has made a difference in the world, it is because the partnership between governments and civil society forged through the process that created the treaty has continued to this day”. Since its inception in 1992, the ICBL— representing hundreds of NGOs, landmine survivors, mine action operators and experts — has been working closely with governments and other actors to achieve a mine-free world.
The adoption of the treaty 20 years ago today was a milestone start to an end of suffering caused by landmines. To date, the Mine Ban Treaty has been at the heart of many achievements.
More than 80 per cent of the world’s countries outlawed landmines by joining the treaty. The stigma against landmines has grown strong. Landmine trade is virtually eliminated. Sixty-five (65) non-state armed groups have pledged not to use landmines. At least 39 states that once produced landmines have stopped producing them. Twenty-seven (27) countries finished clearing and destroying landmines. More than fifty-one (51) million stockpiled landmines have been destroyed. New landmine casualties have been dramatically reduced from the 40-55 people a day that were killed or injured in the 1990s. The rights of landmine victims have been increasingly recognized.
But the job is not done. Landmines are still a global problem.
An average of 18 people around the world lost their life or limbs to a landmine or another explosive remnant of war every day in 2015. Still some 60 countries around the world are contaminated by landmines and explosive remnants of war, maintaining a sense of fear among thousands of people and creating a sense of insecurity among communities, delaying peace processes and impeding countries’ development for years.
Although the majority of states worldwide have renounced landmines and joined the Mine Ban Treaty, still 35 states remain outside of the treaty, collectively stockpiling a total around 50 million landmines.
If not destroyed, those landmines remain ready to be used any time.
Although new use of antipersonnel landmines by states is rare and limited, it still happens. The reported new use of landmines by Myanmar forces during the last two weeks and the ongoing use by non-state armed groups in a handful of countries, often with improvised mines, remind us all that there is still a need to rid the world of these indiscriminate weapons.
While the number of new casualties recorded annually has dropped, any mine incident can add an individual to the still growing number of global survivors. Landmine victims in developing countries, in affected and remote areas, are still too often in desperate need of health care and rehabilitation, psychosocial and socio-economic supports.
It is evident from the remarkable achievements of the last two decades, that we can get this job done. But governments and civil society and other actors need to continue the flourishing partnerships and cooperation to do more to achieve a mine-free world by 2025.