(Geneva, 5 December): Record achievements in landmine clearance and a steep decline in documented casualties last year highlighted the Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty which ended today. However ongoing use allegations, and the first ever confirmed use by a State Party – Yemen – pose serious challenges that must be addressed immediately.
“The record low in casualties together with an all-time high in clearance of contaminated areas – including in heavily affected countries like Afghanistan, Cambodia and Colombia – shows that we are closing the gap toward a mine-free world. However, the first ever confirmed use of landmines by a State Party – Yemen - shows the need for even greater vigilance to eradicate mine use forever,” said Kasia Derlicka-Rosenbauer, ICBL director.
The ICBL’s Landmine Monitor recorded 3,628 casualties in 2012, a nearly 20 percent decrease from 2011 and almost 60 percent decrease from 1999. This is the lowest level since the Mine Ban Treaty entered into force.
2012 also marked a high point for landmine clearance by States Parties; a total of 280 square kilometers of mined areas were released last year according to the Monitor report. Three countries announced completion of their clearance obligations this week (Bhutan, Hungary and Venezuela), while Germany announced that no antipersonnel mines were found in an area previously suspected of contamination. Some 30 countries have now completed their clearance obligations under the Treaty.
During the Meeting of States Parties this week, Yemen acknowledged mine use by government forces in 2011. This is the first confirmed use of antipersonnel mines by a Treaty member and cause for serious concern and response by States Parties. Yemen’s acknowledgement of the violation this week and commitment to conducting a thorough investigation is significant.
Ongoing allegations of mine use in recent years, including possibly by government forces in States Parties Sudan and South Sudan, are very disturbing. Neither government has yet taken significant steps to address these concerns. State Party Turkey is still in the process of dealing with alleged antipersonnel mine use by government forces in 2009.
“How States Parties handle these most serious breaches and alleged breaches of the treaty will be a clear test of the Mine Ban Treaty’s strength and credibility,” said ICBL Director Kasia Derlicka-Rosenbauer. “Reports of new mine use by states not party – both Myanmar and Syria used antipersonnel mines this and last year – and by the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh in 2013 deserves special attention from Treaty members,” Derlicka-Rosenbauer added. Landmine Monitor documented use by non-state armed groups in as many as eight countries in its just released 2013 report.
A long anticipated announcement by the United States this week on whether to join the Treaty, was not forthcoming. “The US Government is failing in its humanitarian duty and failing to keep its promises by its inability to conclude its review of US landmine policy more than four years after it began, said the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines (USCBL).”
The 15-year decline in new landmine casualties illustrates the success of the Mine Ban Treaty in reducing casualties and suffering caused by these weapons. However challenges remain. Nearly 80% of casualties reported in 2012 were civilians, with the proportion of children and women increasing. States must ensure adequate funding for victim assistance programming as well as upholding the rights of survivors in remote areas.
The Mine Ban Treaty’s Third Review Conference (3RC), which will take place from 23 to 27 June in 2014 in Maputo, Mozambique, will mark a critical point in the Treaty’s history. Coming fifteen years after the First Meeting of States Parties was held there, the conference will assess the progress made to date and provide a roadmap for completion of Treaty obligations.
This week the ICBL presents States with a “Completion Challenge,” urging governments to commit at the Review Conference in Maputo to complete their specific Treaty obligations within an ambitious, defined time frame. ICBL believes the remaining work under the Treaty could be finished within ten years after the Third Review Conference.
Concretely, ICBL calls on states to do the following as soon as possible and not later than 10 years from the Review Conference: Destroy all stockpiles of antipersonnel mines; Clear contaminated land in the most effective and efficient way; Ensure sustainable and accessible victim assistance and protecting the rights of landmine victims, including through broad frameworks such as those for development or disability; Provide and use resources and support needed to finish the remaining work in the most effective and efficient manner, including through strategic and focused “completion partnerships” between affected and donor states and other partners; Ensure universal respect for the ban norm to eradicate use of antipersonnel mines by any actors anywhere, including use by non-state armed groups, with states still outside the treaty joining as soon as possible.
Over 100 governments and a majority of all States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, participated in the 13MSP, which closes today. Representation from a wide range of States not Parties to the MBT and newly established national campaigns in Iran, Libya, Myanmar demonstrated the strength of the global norm banning antipersonnel landmine use, on the 16th anniversary of the Treaty signing.
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