01 March 2006

1 March 2006. Mine Ban Treaty Turns 7: Global Successes Tempered by Ongoing Use and Production Big Challenges Looming on Mine Clearance Deadlines and Assistance to Mine Survivors

On the seventh anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty today, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) condemned the governments of Burma, Nepal and Russia for continuing to use antipersonnel mines, and expressed concern that the United States might resume production of antipersonnel mines for the first time in eight years. Signed in 1997, the Mine Ban Treaty came into force on 1 March 1999 following ratification by 40 countries. With recent ratifications by Ukraine and Haiti, there are now 149 States Parties to the treaty, more than three-quarters of the world's nations. The treaty comprehensively bans the use, production, and trade of antipersonnel mines, and requires destruction of stockpiled mines within four years and clearance of all mined areas within ten years. It also obligates states to assist landmine survivors.

Forty-five countries have not yet joined the Mine Ban Treaty, including the three recent landmine users, the U.S., and nine other landmine producers: China, Cuba, India, Iran, North Korea, South Korea, Pakistan, Singapore, and Vietnam. "It is time to turn up the heat on those countries that are flouting international law by continuing to use and produce antipersonnel mines. This must be treated as unacceptable behavior for all nations" said Sylvie Brigot, the ICBL's Executive Director. The United States is due to make a decision in early 2006 on production of a new mine system called Spider that would be prohibited by the treaty. Also among the 45 are five countries that have signed the treaty, but not yet ratified: Brunei, the Cook Islands, Indonesia, the Marshall Islands and Poland. "After years of delay, we are hopeful that all five of these states will ratify the treaty in 2006.

This should be a high priority this year for everyone promoting a global mine ban" said Ms. Brigot. The treaty - which has been hailed as a unique partnership among governments, non-governmental organizations (led by the ICBL), the International Committee of the Red Cross, and UN agencies - has resulted in great successes, making a real difference in the lives of people in mine-affected communities all around the world. Only three governments used antipersonnel mines in 2005, the number of producers has fallen from more than 50 to 13, legal trade in the weapons has virtually ceased worldwide, more than 38 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed, more mines are being removed from the ground as mine action funding has increased greatly, and the number of new landmine casualties each year has fallen significantly. Still many challenges remain. "Our work is far from over," said Ms. Brigot. "Concerned governments must live up to their promises and rhetoric. It is not enough to say, "We want a mine-free world."

More must be done to clear mined areas within deadlines set by the treaty, and to help mine survivors and mine-affected communities" added Brigot. Among the biggest concerns for the ICBL in 2006:

  • It appears that many of the Mine Ban Treaty States Parties with the earliest mine clearance deadlines, in 2009 and 2010, are not on track to meet those deadlines. Both the mine-affected countries and donor states need to ratchet up their efforts now.
  • Assistance to mine survivors is still grossly inadequate. As an estimated 400,000 victims across the world struggle to build a life that's more than just survival, states are lagging behind in providing the necessary resources for care, rehabilitation and socio-economic reintegration.

" The best way to celebrate the 1 March anniversary is for governments, international organizations and civil society to reaffirm their commitment to a total ban on antipersonnel mines, and to take concrete, sustained and cost-effective actions in support of the treaty's universalization and full implementation" concluded Brigot.

For more information please contact:Sylvie Brigot +33 6 07 17 27 76 or brigot@icbl.org or visit our website www.icbl.org