Released on 23rd November in Bangkok, Landmine Monitor 2011 illustrates the need for States throughout the world to join the Mine Ban Treaty in order to make it a universal standard. Whilst the report presents positive news concerning mine clearance and funding for anti-mine action, it also demonstrates the ongoing need for campaigning against these weapons, which continue to kill civilians.
New landmine use
The report shows that at least three States not party to the treaty used antipersonnel landmines in 2011: Israel, Libya and Burma. There are also strong suspicions that Syria may have used these weapons. In 2009 - 2010, Burma was the only country to have done so. Four independent armed groups – in Afghanistan, Colombia, Burma and Pakistan – also used landmines in 2010-2011.
As Paul Vermeulen, Head of Advocacy at Handicap International puts it: “These new cases of the use of antipersonnel landmines are unacceptable and extremely worrying. We ask all States Parties to firmly condemn any new use of antipersonnel landmines and to implement all possible measures in order to stop the use of these weapons.”
Missed deadlines and more victims
Another negative finding is that Belarus, Greece, Turkey and Ukraine have not met the deadline for destroying their stockpiles, in violation of the treaty. “It is unacceptable for States Parties not to implement one of the most important articles of the treaty to deadline" highlights Paul Vermeulen.
The Landmine Monitor 2011 also reports that the number of new victims of antipersonnel landmines is still high. In 2010, 4,191 victims of landmines and unexploded remnants of war were identified.
Good progress on clearance
These findings are all the more regrettable as they taint the otherwise positive results achieved through the combined impact of increasing efforts made by States Parties and civil society campaigners. The decontamination of mined land reached an unprecedented level in 2010: almost 460 km² have been demined and over 1.6 million unexploded remnants of war have been destroyed in just one year. “Each weapon destroyed represents a reduction in new victims and genuine hope for the future for the thousands of civilians living with the threat of these weapons on a day-to-day basis" said Paul Vermeulen.
The funds allocated to anti-mine action also increased significantly in 2010: $637 million were granted by the international community and affected countries, 31 international funding bodies alone provided $480 million, an increase of 7% on the previous year.
“The rapid and systematic elimination of all minefields requires greater, more determined mobilisation by all States Parties. 79 countries and territories are still contaminated by these weapons.” explains Paul Vermeulen. “We regret however that less than 10% of funding is allocated to assisting victims, who remain largely forgotten by the treaty.” Over 500,000 survivors of accidents from landmines or unexploded remnants of war require lifelong assistance, and the mere $43 million allocated to this provision falls far short of meeting the real needs.
All States should join the treaty
The report comes ahead of the eleventh Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, which will be held from 28th November to 2nd December in Cambodia, one of the worst-affected countries in the world. The meeting will be crucial in reminding States of their obligations, notably in terms of victim assistance. Handicap International is calling on the States attending to push for the universalisation of the treaty and to make firm commitments to ensuring it is fully implemented. The organisation will also continue to lobby States to ensure they take into account the realities in the field. Only long-term commitment with sufficient resources can free communities from the threat posed by these barbaric weapons.
About Handicap International
Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Handicap International is an international aid organisation working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. Working alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable populations, we take action and raise awareness in order to respond to their essential needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights. Handicap International is a co-founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the Cluster Munition Coalition.
About The Monitor
The Monitor was created in June 1998 by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines and is coordinated by an Editorial Board drawn from five organizations: Mines Action Canada, Action On Armed Violence, Handicap International, Human Rights Watch, and Norwegian People’s Aid. It constitutes a sustainable and systematic way for non-governmental organizations to monitor and report on the implementation of humanitarian and disarmament treaties. The Monitor released the first Cluster Munition Monitor report earlier this month.