March 1, 2014 marks exactly 15 years since the Mine Ban Treaty entered into force and began making a difference in mine-affected communities globally – saving lives by ensuring the removal and destruction of landmines, as well as providing assistance to mine victims. Since then, the Mine Ban Treaty has been recognized as a model for humanitarian disarmament, citizen diplomacy, and multilateralism at work.
The Mine Ban Treaty entered into force in record time on 1 March 1999 - just over one year after being opened for signature in December 1997, and following initial ratification by 40 countries. It was an unprecedented initiative – for the first time in history a conventional weapon in widespread use was totally banned.
The global ban was the result of a groundbreaking partnership between civil society, governments, and international organizations working together. The campaign to ban landmines was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its role in bringing about the Treaty and since then has served as a model to successive disarmament campaigns including ICBL’s sister campaign, the Cluster Munition Coalition.
The Mine Ban Treaty’s success can be measured by its real and lasting impact on mine-affected communities around the world.
Tangible Treaty successes to date include:
• The dramatic reduction in the number of new casualties caused by landmines each year – from some 20,000 when the mine ban campaign began, to less than 4,000 recorded cases in 2012;
• Recognition of the rights of landmine victims in many states and the efforts being made to address their needs;
• The fact that more than 80% of the world’s countries (161) are on board the Mine Ban Treaty;
• The overwhelming stigma of the weapon today, so strong that most countries remaining outside the treaty abide by the ban on the weapon;
• Hundreds of square kilometers of contaminated land cleared of landmines;
• Destruction of more than 47 million stockpiled landmines in 87 countries.
In spite of this remarkable progress however, the work is not over. Every day some 10 people are killed or maimed by landmines or explosive remnants of war, showing that states need to work even harder to clear the land of these indiscriminate weapons and to assist victims and their communities. Some 60 countries and territories are still contaminated with landmines, and progress in clearing land has been too slow.
Sadly, a handful of governments who have not joined the Treaty are still using antipersonnel landmines, including Myanmar and Syria most recently. International condemnation of such use has shown the strength of the Treaty. However any ongoing use is cause for serious concern. And several countries outside the Treaty continue to maintain large stockpiles of landmines, posing a grave danger to future generations.
The Mine Ban Treaty is highly successful, why the urgency now to “finish the job?”
Because the lives and limbs of children, women and men around the world continue to be at risk from this indiscriminate weapon every day. The international community needs to step up its efforts and act urgently to finish the job begun 15 years ago with the Mine Ban Treaty entry into force and the commitment to a mine-free world.
What is the Completion Challenge?
In June 2014, the international community will be meeting in Maputo, Mozambique for the Third Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty. The meeting is an opportunity to review the progress made to date under the Treaty and adopt a way forward to address remaining challenges to finish the job.
In preparation for the Review Conference, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines is calling on states around the world to “Commit to Complete” their obligations under the Mine Ban Treaty and bring an end to the suffering caused by landmines, within the next 10 years. The ICBL “Completion Challenge” specifically calls on States Parties to:
1 Prepare or update national action plans ahead of the Maputo conference to ensure the remaining treaty obligations are met as quickly as possible;
2 Make a Completion Commitment at the Third Review Conference—commit publicly to completing their remaining major treaty obligations no later than 10 years after the Review Conference;
3 Stay committed until the work is done.
The Completion Challenge will require all States Parties with remaining major treaty obligations to assess how they can work better and harder in order to fulfill their obligations within a finite and ambitious timeframe.
As part of the mobilization in the lead up to the Third Review Conference, the ICBL through its global network is working closely with key partners to inspire states to take up the Completion Challenge and prepare their completion commitments pledges ahead of the June 2014 meeting in Mozambique.
ICBL members around the world are issuing country specific challenges on March 1 including calls for: increased financial support for victim assistance in Afghanistan; clearance of all mined areas in Bosnia by 2019; creating a national plan of humanitarian demining in Colombia; clearance of all mined areas in Democratic Republic of Congo by 2019; destruction of stockpiled landmines in Poland by 2015; US commitment by June 2014 to join the Mine Ban Treaty; completion of all mine clearance in Senegal by 2016; and for donor countries to commit to stay involved until the needs of landmine victims everywhere are met.