12 November 2011

(Geneva, 11 November 2011) The Republic of South Sudan, where thousands live in daily fear of landmines, has become the 158th State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty, just five months after declaring independence.

In depositing its instrument of succession at the United Nations in New York today, South Sudan made this its first internationally-binding agreement since becoming an independent nation in July 2011. “We congratulate the new government of South Sudan on this momentous commitment,” said Kasia Derlicka, Director of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). “Its pledge to ban antipersonnel landmines is particularly critical as thousands of people across the new country continue to be at risk of the devastating consequences of these weapons every day,” Derlicka added.

At the end of 2010, South Sudan was home to at least 4,283 victims of mines and explosive remnants of war, with true numbers likely to be much higher due to under-reporting, according to the ICBL’s Landmine Monitor. As a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty, South Sudan must destroy all of its stockpiles, clear its contaminated land and provide improved assistance to survivors and communities affected by this indiscriminate weapon.

“The ICBL is looking forward to supporting South Sudan in implementing all aspects of the treaty and preventing further loss of life and livelihoods in this fledgling country,” said Derlicka. Joining the Mine Ban Treaty is particularly critical for the newly-formed government, given reports of new landmine use there this year. Only this week authorities in South Sudan confirmed the arrest of members of a rebel group who admitted plans to lay mines along roads in the Bentiu region of Unity State. The ICBL welcomes this bold action by the new government and believes it will lead to an environment that ensures that no more mines are laid, by any actor anywhere in South Sudan.

South Sudan’s succession comes just two weeks ahead of a key global conference on the Mine Ban Treaty: the 11th Meeting of States Parties, which will be held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, between 28 November and 2 December 2011. At the meeting, representatives of the Republic of South Sudan will join hundreds of delegates from all around the world to discuss the progress they are making in fulfilling their treaty obligations, and their plans for the future.

For detailed information about landmine contamination, casualty data and clearance in South Sudan please visit the country profile page on the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor.