International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL)
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Non-State Armed Groups

The majority of armed conflicts in the world today involve armed opposition groups who act autonomously from recognized governments. The term non-state armed groups (NSAGs), includes rebel groups, irregular armed groups, insurgents, dissident armed forces, guerrillas, liberation movements, and de facto territorial governing bodies. NSAGs vary greatly in ideology, objectives, strategies, form and level of organization, support-base, legitimacy and degree of international recognition.

Compared to the end of the 90s, very few NSAGs today have access to factory-made antipersonnel landmines. This is directly linked to the halt in trade and production, and the destruction of stocks, brought about by the Mine Ban Treaty. Some NSAGs have access to the mine stocks of previous regimes (such as in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia), but most armed groups today produce their own improvised mines. Use of antipersonnel landmines by non-state armed groups has continued to decline since 2004, according to the Landmine Monitor.

Non-state armed groups do still use antipersonnel landmines in more countries than governmental forces, however non-state armed groups rarely have access to the quantities which governmental forces previously had.

In order to achieve a truly universal ban on antipersonnel mines, non-state armed groups must be encouraged to ban them. An increasing number of non-state armed groups have acknowledged the need to reconsider their use of antipersonnel landmines. Unilateral statements and bilateral agreements with clear references to a mine ban or obligations for mine action have been made by non-state armed groups. Some have adhered to the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment which signals their agreement to prohibit use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of antipersonnel mines, and to undertake and cooperate in mine action.

Improvised Explosive Devices (IED)

Non-state armed groups have been using IEDs in increasing numbers. An IED that is victim-activated—that explodes from the contact, presence or proximity of a person—is considered an antipersonnel mine and prohibited under the Mine Ban Treaty. An IED that is command-detonated—where the user decides when to explode it—is not prohibited by the treaty, but use of such devices is often in violation of international humanitarian law, such as when civilians are directly targeted. Command-detonated bombs and IEDs have been frequently reported by the media, militaries and governments as “landmines”.

More information on non-state armed groups is available in the Landmine Monitor.