States Parties 161
States Not Party 36
States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty (official title: Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction; signed in Ottawa, Canada on 3 December 1997 and entered into force on 1 March 1999) will meet at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, from 24 to 28 November 2008.
This will be the ninth such annual meeting. Members of NGOs involved in mine action, UN agencies, international organizations and representatives from states not party to the treaty will also attend as observers.
1) WHAT WILL THE NINTH MEETING OF THE STATES PARTIES TO THE MINE BAN TREATY BE ABOUT?
2) WHAT ARE THE ICBL’S EXPECTATIONS FOR THE NINTH MEETING OF THE STATES PARTIES?
3) HOW DOES THE CLEARANCE DEADLINE EXTENSION PROCESS WORK, AND WHAT IS AT STAKE?
4) DOES THE TREATY MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE GLOBAL LANDMINE CRISIS?
5) WHAT IS THE RELATION BETWEEN THE MINE BAN TREATY AND THE NEW CONVENTION ON CLUSTER MUNITIONS?
6) WHAT IS THE ICBL?
1) WHAT WILL THE NINTH MEETING OF THE STATES PARTIES (9MSP) TO THE MINE BAN TREATY BE ABOUT?
The significance of the 9MSP is three-fold. First, this will be the last MSP before the treaty’s Second Review Conference, which will be held in 2009, providing the last opportunity for States to measure progress in the application of the Nairobi Action Plan - the ambitious 70-commitment plan for implementation and universalization of the treaty, undertaken by States Parties at the treaty’s First Review Conference in 2004 - and to identify priority areas of work for the year leading up to the next Review Conference.
The 9MSP will also be critically important as, for the first time, States Parties will be assessing and taking decisions on requests for extensions of mine clearance deadlines. Under the Mine Ban Treaty, States Parties have 10 years to clear all antipersonnel landmines from all their mined areas. The treaty allows states to request extensions although this was intended to be used only in the case of the most heavily affected countries. The first deadlines – for 20 affected states – will occur in 2009. Unfortunately, only a few of them will actually meet their 2009 deadline, and 15 states will be asking for an extension at the 9MSP. The treaty says that the decision on each request will be made by a majority of States Parties present and voting at the MSP, and the ICBL is pushing those deciding states to take their role very seriously.
Finally, the MSP will have to consider the issue of how to operationalize mechanisms to tackle suspected cases of non-compliance with the treaty. This will be particularly relevant this year after recent allegations of new mine use along the border between Cambodia and Thailand, both States Parties to the treaty.
The ICBL expects States Parties to keep their word to honour and uphold the treaty, to speak out when abuses are observed, and to reconfirm their commitment to its provisions until it is fully and universally implemented. Specifically:
On stockpile destruction, we expect all states to address the situation in Belarus, Greece and Turkey, who in 2008 failed to meet their four-year deadline to destroy stockpiles, which means they are in violation of the treaty.
On mine clearance extension requests, we expect States Parties to show that they take their responsibility seriously and to speak out against requests with insufficient justification, showing that this is not a rubber-stamping exercise.
On victim assistance, we need to hear from all states on how they are either pursuing the goals they set out to achieve before the Second Review Conference, or helping others to do so.
On compliance, we will encourage states to operationalize the formal mechanisms under Article 8 as well as recommend creating an informal process for looking into compliance issues, such as assigning responsibility for initiating information-gathering or discussions on specific cases to a small group of States Parties.
Requests for extensions of the treaty-mandated clearance deadlines must be approved by States Parties at the annual meeting preceding the deadline. Requesting states must submit detailed requests nine months before the meeting at which they will be decided upon. The requests are examined by a group of States Parties which is in charge of preparing analyses which will serve as a basis for the vote at the MSP. The “analyzing group” can seek the advice of external experts (including the ICBL), and can get back to requesting states for clarification.
What is at stake in this process is the credibility of the treaty’s clearance obligations. If extension requests are granted too lightly, this will send a message to states with future deadlines that clearance obligations can be disregarded/delayed, thus undermining the ability of the treaty to make a real difference for affected communities. The ICBL will consider this process successful if requesting states used the opportunity to do serious planning on the work and resources needed to finish demining, if there is a real discussion over the content of these requests by all other States Parties, and if those states that ask for more time than they would realistically need are granted a shorter deadline than they ask for. The decision taken at the 9MSP will set a precedent for how future requests will be dealt with.
Yes, 11 years after its signature (in Ottawa, Canada, on 3 December 1997) the treaty has 156 States Parties – 80% of the world’s states – and its disarmament and humanitarian achievements are unique. They include:
However, this is still a “success in progress” and much remains to be done. Continued mine use by two states (Myanmar/Burma and Russia) and non-state actors in several conflicts is of grave concern, together with the mine production in 13 countries, namely Myanmar/Burma, China, Cuba, India, Iran, North Korea, South Korea, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, United States and Vietnam. Not all of these are actively producing landmines, but reserve the right to do so. Although the annual rate of injuries and deaths caused by antipersonnel mines diminishes, the absolute number of mine survivors keeps growing each year (in 2007 it was estimated at over 470,000 people worldwide) and many of their needs are not being met. Less than a half of the 25 countries that have been identified as having the biggest survivors assistance needs and challenges, seem to be making an adequate progress to meet those needs. Twenty-nine States Parties are requested under article 5 of the treaty to clear mined areas between 2009 and 2010 and more than half of these are not going to meet their deadline.
Like antipersonnel mines, cluster munitions have indiscriminate humanitarian effects, both at the time of use, when they saturate large areas with explosive devices, and long after, as they leave behind large numbers of unexploded landmine-like ‘duds’, that pose serious threat to civilians and hinder reconstruction and development decades after the conflict.
The massive use of these weapons in the conflict in Lebanon in 2006, and over 30 years of experience of NGOs documenting the unacceptable harm they caused in dozens of countries, lead international civil society and a group of concerned states to start a fast-track diplomatic process, closely modeled on the “Ottawa process” that gave us the Mine Ban Treaty, to negotiate an international agreement to ban cluster munitions. The so-called “Oslo process” lasted less than two years and culminated in the adoption, in May 2008, of the text of a new Convention banning the use, production, stockpiling and transfers of cluster munitions. The Convention will be opened for signature in Oslo in December 2008 and will enter into force upon ratification by the 30th state.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions takes on board many of the lessons learned in 10 years of implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. The two conventions are driven by the same humanitarian imperative and their provision will be mutually reinforcing, creating a more effective and comprehensive framework for civilian protection.
In 1992, six organizations came together to launch what was at that time seen as a 'utopian dream': the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). Today the ICBL is supported by over 1,000 non-governmental organizations in more than 70 countries and continues its work to turn the words of the landmine 1997 Mine Ban Treaty into a reality. In recognition of its achievements, the ICBL was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997, together with its then coordinator, Jody Williams
The campaign calls for an international ban on the use, production, stockpiling, sale, transfer or export of antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions. It advocates for: ratification of and accession to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, signature of the new Convention on Cluster Munitions; implementation and monitoring of the treaties; increased resources for humanitarian demining and risk education programs; and increased resources for survivors rehabilitation and socio-economic reintegration. As one of the leading members of the Cluster Munition Coalition, the ICBL is actively engaged in the global effort to ban cluster munitions and to address their humanitarian impact. The efforts of the Coalition culminated in the adoption, in May 2008, of a new Convention on Cluster Munitions, which will be opened for signature in Oslo, Norway, in December 2008.
The ICBL has eight staff members, a management committee of five people and an advisory board made up of 21 member organizations. ICBL members include human rights, humanitarian, children, peace, disability, veterans, medical, humanitarian, mine action, development, arms control, religious, environmental and women's groups.