01 March 2017
ICBL Ambassador Mr Tun Chanareth advocates for delegates at the UN in Geneva to ban landmines. April 1996 © John Rodsted
“The signing of the Ottawa treaty was one of the highlights of my career at the United Nations… The determination of the States parties has made the Ottawa Treaty one of the great successes of international diplomacy.” Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, 2 March 2016.
Eighteen years ago today, the Mine Ban Treaty, also known as the Ottawa Treaty, entered into force, establishing a global norm against the use of anti-personnel landmines. Previously used far and wide as a weapon of choice in the 1980s and 1990s, the global community had come to realize the pernicious impact of landmines on civilians and their communities, long after the end of conflict. Governments and civil society stood together to reject landmines as a relic of the past-- an unacceptable weapon for any humane and responsible actor.
“One of the greatest legacies of civil society in the 20th century is the International Campaign to Ban Landmines that helped to achieve the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997. It is an historic achievement that not only banned the use, production, export and transfer of mines, but also provided legal obligations to support clearing mines. It is also the first weapons treaty in the world's history to include language for assistance to victims of the weapons that the treaty addresses.” Ken Rutherford, Director of the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery and a landmine survivor, 28 February 2017.
Today, just months away from the 20th anniversary of both the adoption and the signing of the Mine Ban Treaty, we celebrate the positive change brought about by this life-saving treaty.
- The annual number of landmine casualties today are just a fraction of what they were in 1999
- The use of anti-personnel landmines by States is increasingly rare
- 51 million stockpiled landmines have been destroyed- and every landmine destroyed is one that will never kill or injury a person. Congrats to Poland for being the most recent State to complete stockpile destruction!
- 28 States have completed landmine clearance since 1999, with Algeria being the most recent state to announce completion
This is enormous progress that has saved countless lives and increased opportunities for development around the world.
However, more work remains. Last year, use of improvised landmines by non-state armed groups increased while national and international support for mine action was lower than in most recent years. Mine victims in most mine affected States still struggle to access needed services and to participate as full citizens in their communities. States Parties have made the commitment to finish the job by 2025; with focused and collaborative efforts, we will achieve this goal.
And while global statistics are important to see how far we have come, the impact on the lives of individuals reminds us all of why we started this in the first place and why we must stay the course until the job is done.
“After my accident, all aspects of my life were filled with hopelessness. My future was uncertain. Then I learned about the Mine Ban Treaty, and things started to make sense: I was finding answers to my worries. Now, I am fighting for my rights as entrenched in the Treaty, and in doing so, I am also fighting on behalf of thousands of fellow victims.” Mamady Gassama, founder of the Senegal Association for Mine Victims and a landmine survivor, 27 February 2017.
Mr Mamady Gassama meets His Excellency Mankeur Ndiaye, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Senegal regarding implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. November 2006 ©AVSM