Geneva, Vienna 9 June 2017 – The Committees of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention – the treaty of the 162 States that have committed to never, under any circumstances use, stockpile, produce, and transfer landmines again – have concluded two days of meetings in Geneva, where they took stock of progress and challenges since the Convention last met in Chile in 2016, and paved the way to their next meeting in Vienna at the end of 2017.
“A few decades ago a mine-free world seemed out of reach. Today we know we can achieve our goal if we redouble our efforts over the next eight years. It is evident that there is significant work that remains to be done if we are to meet our ambition of a mine-free world by 2025, but we are a step closer to that goal,” said H.E. Thomas Hajnoczi, Ambassador of Austria to the UN in Geneva who presides over the Convention in 2017.
“After decades of engaged work, heavily mine-affected Algeria succeeded in fulfilling its mine clearance obligation. This should encourage other mine-affected countries to not relent on their efforts. We have also seen tremendous progress in the area of stockpile destruction. Most recently Belarus has declared that, supported by international cooperation, it has completed the destruction of millions of stockpiled landmines that pose serious threats to lives and environment. This is a major achievement. Yet, better efforts must still be made to assist landmine survivors. As States Parties we acknowledge that their care and attention is a basic human right that should be addressed in larger national disability and development contexts. Together we can accomplish what we set out to do when we signed this treaty 20 years ago,” said the Ambassador.
“Providing support to those states that are still implementing key actions of the Convention is as important today as it was 20 years ago. It is a humanitarian imperative,” said the Ambassador referring to the 34 countries still in the process of implementing Convention obligations, and the 29 which have reported responsibility for significant numbers of landmine survivors.
Angola, Ecuador, Iraq, Thailand and Zimbabwe have requested extensions of their mine clearance deadlines:
- Angola with a deadline set for 2018, has requested until 2025 to address more than 240 km2 of land, including 1,074 confirmed hazardous areas. This is Angola’s second extension request.
- Ecuador reported that due to a devastating earthquake that affected the country in 2016, landmine clearance operations were halted. For this reason, and the discovery of 26 new suspected hazardous zones, Ecuador has requested until the end of 2022, to meet its clearance obligation. This is Ecuador’s second extension request.
- Iraq with a deadline set for 2018, has requested until 2026 to address nearly 1,200 km2 of land, including 2,897 hazardous areas.
- Thailand with a deadline set for 2018, has requested until 2023 to address 30 districts in 13 provinces, for a total of 400 km2. This is Thailand’s second extension request.
- Zimbabwe with a fifth extended deadline set for 2018, has requested until 2025 to address over 65km2.
The decision on these requests will be made during the Convention’s Sixteenth Meeting of the States Parties (16MSP), from 18-21 December at the United Nations in Vienna.
Algeria formally declared that it has fulfilled its mine clearance obligation under the Convention, clearing 93 mined or suspected mined areas, including 78 former mine barrages, and destroying more than one million antipersonnel mines. Colonel Ahcène Gherabi, Director of Algeria's National Demining Programme said that over 120 million square meters of land were cleared and released for normal use.
Nikolai Ovsyanko of the Belarus Department of International Security and Arms Control declared that after several challenges, and with the support of the European Union, Belarus had destroyed its remaining ‘PFM-1’ anti-personnel mines, fulfilling its stockpile destruction under the Convention. In total Belarus destroyed 3.4 million landmines.
The meeting was attended by nearly 300 delegates, representing 77 States, including 5 States not party to the Convention: Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and the United States of America.
20th Anniversary of the Signing of the Convention
The Convention is commemorating 20 years of the unique and pioneering partnership between governments and civil society to put an end to the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines. In 1997, the current chair of the Convention, Ambassador Hajnoczi, led the Austrian delegation which provided the draft that served as the basis for treaty negotiations. Austria was part of a cross-regional core group of states, instrumental in fostering consultations and diplomatic conferences that would ultimately result in the adoption of the Convention in Oslo, and signing in Ottawa on 3-4 December.
The Convention was the first multilateral treaty to take into consideration the rights of the victims of a particular weapon. As of 2017, there are 162 States Parties to the Convention representing more than 80% of the world’s countries. Together, these States have destroyed more than 51 million landmines, and made millions of square metres of land around the world safe again.