30 October 2013

On 29 October 2013 the International Campaign to Ban Landmines delivered the below statement at the United Nations’ First Committee on Disarmament and International Security. The statement highlights the real & far-reaching impact of the Mine Ban Treaty to-date, but emphasizes the need to finish the job. It urges all states to take up the completion challenge ahead of next year’s review conference in Maputo.Download the full ICBL statement in PDF

Statement by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines First Committee on Disarmament and International Security29 October 2013. Thank you Mr. Chair, I am pleased to speak on behalf of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a global network of non-governmental organizations in some hundred countries, working towards a mine-free world.We welcome the references of support for the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty made by numerous delegations in their statements to the First Committee. These reaffirm our common commitment to the goal of eliminating antipersonnel landmines.

March 1, 2014 will mark fifteen years since the entry into force of the Mine Ban Treaty and later in the year the treaty’s Third Review Conference will take place. This treaty has proven to be a stellar example of humanitarian disarmament, citizen diplomacy, and multilateralism at work.More than 80% of the world’s countries are on board of the Mine Ban Treaty as of today. Its real and far-reaching impact has been both immediate and long-lasting. This impact is clearly felt not only in the 161 countries that have banned the weapon, but even in the states that have yet to join the treaty.

The stigma on the weapon holds so strong that most of those remaining outside the treaty abide by the ban norm. Many hundreds of square kilometers of contaminated land have been cleared of mines, and more than 46 million stockpiled landmines in 87 countries have been destroyed. Most importantly, the number of new casualties caused by landmines each year has dropped dramatically to fewer than 5,000 recorded cases, in comparison to over 20,000 at the beginning of 1990s. The Mine Ban Treaty is working.

Despite this remarkable progress, every day some 12 people are still 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. We are also extremely concerned that a tiny number of governments remaining outside of the treaty are still using antipersonnel landmines, including Myanmar and Syria most recently.

The ICBL condemns any use of antipersonnel mines. In today’s world antipersonnel mines are unacceptable and all States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty and others who agree with its humanitarian objectives should strongly condemn all use and do all to prevent it in the future.We have come a long way, but we need to finish the job we started to put a final end to these weapons. This can and should be achieved within years and not decades.In order to achieve that, we are calling urgently for:

  • An immediate halt to the use of any antipersonnel landmines, anywhere by anyone;
  • The 36 remaining countries to join the Mine Ban Treaty without delay;
  • All countries, including affected states and donor states, to increase their efforts to clear land of mines and assist victims;

The international community will gather at the beginning of December in Geneva at the 13th Meeting of States Parties to the treaty and at the First Preparatory Meeting for the Third Review Conference. This will be followed by a milestone meeting of the treaty next year- the Third Review Conference that will be held in Maputo, Mozambique, from 30 June until 4 July 2014.

The Review Conference will mark 15 years since the Treaty’s entry into force and will not only assess the progress made to date, but also provide a roadmap for our work ahead. We believe the Third Review Conference should be a starting point for the completion phase of the work remaining under the treaty. The conference host country itself – Mozambique – provides an inspiring example of how a heavily affected country has effectively tackled its landmine contamination and will become mine-free in 2014. With such examples, we are convinced that with genuine commitment and sufficient resources the remaining work under the treaty can be finished in the next several years, not decades.

We urge all states to take up the challenge of completing the job under the treaty and to come to Maputo next year with a public pledge to complete their remaining specific treaty obligations (such as clearance, victim assistance, stockpile destruction, or joining the treaty) within a clearly defined, ambitious deadline. We are not that far away from our goal of a mine-free world, but we do need all countries on board and genuine recommitment of efforts and resources to get the world rid of landmines in the shortest possible time. So come to Maputo next year with your completion pledge and fulfill your part in achieving a mine-free world.

Meanwhile, here in New York, all governments should support the resolution calling for full universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. About half of the states that have not yet joined the treaty nonetheless annually vote in favor of the resolution in order to demonstrate their support for the treaty’s humanitarian objectives. It is time for those who continue to abstain, to start voting in favor, reflecting the nearly universal view that these weapons are a relic of the past and need to disappear from the face of the Earth, once and for all.

Thank you.