TOOL: Action Against Landmines

Taking Action Against landminesFollowing International Mine Awareness Day,  you may want to take action. But how? First, we need to understand the gravity of the situation and the efforts that have gone into banning AP-mines and demining effected areas.

The Ottawa Treaty, known formally as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, bans completely all anti-personnel landmines (AP-mines) around the world*. As of today (April 6, 2018), there are 133 Signatories (party or country that has signed in agreement) and 164 Parties (countries who have ratified or acceded to the treaty and are therefore legally bound)*. The official treaty began in the roots of an anti-AP-mine campaign launched by 6 NGOs in 1992. Throughout the following year, conversations circled around how to best help victims of landmines and how to develop a strategic campaign whose eventual goal was to ban anti-personnel mines altogether. In September 1997, the treaty was officially adopted in Oslo, Norway and was open for signatures in Ottawa, Canada on December 3, 1997.

As the blog’s last post discussed, the use of AP-mines since the 1960s had grown out of control with several nations and independent forces having access to buying, reselling and use of AP landmines. Therefore, the anti-AP mine campaigns and Ottawa Treaty was met with a strong commitment from other countries.

The signing of the Ottawa Treaty | Photo Credits: Canadian Landmine Foundation

The Parties to the Ottawa Treaty commit to:

  • never use anti-personnel mines, nor to “develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer” them;
  • destroy mines in their stockpiles within four years;
  • clear mined areas in their territory within 10 years;
  • in mine-affected countries, conduct mine risk education and ensure that mine survivors, their families and communities receive comprehensive assistance;
  • offer assistance to other States Parties, for example in providing for survivors or contributing to clearance programs;
  • adopt national implementation measures (such as national legislation) in order to ensure that the terms of the treaty are upheld in their territory.

*summary provided by Canadian Landmine Foundation. Find the full treaty in English here and in French here.

So, if there’s a UN treaty banning AP-mines, then why is it still an issue?

Banning AP-mines seems beneficial from a peace and justice standpoint. When an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 people are killed by landmines every year*, banning and demining effected areas seems like it would be a priority for all. However, when we look at the issue through a lens of power, banning anti-personnel landmines, whose object is to maim, injure, or kill its human target, is not as appealing. For many forces, whether official or not, the use of AP-mines provides offensive and defensive support that can cause a lot of damage. Not only do they cause physical harm, their social and economic consequences cause additional burdens.

When an area is ridden with landmines, marked or unmarked, that land is then unusable until it is demined (the process of removing landmines). This restricts land usage for agriculture, livestock, transportation routes and inhibits growth and development. In order to combat the social, economic and environmental impacts of landmines, there are several organizations that are working to mine countries and other areas affected. In addition to this, the push for countries who have not ratified the treaty (like the United States) to sign continues to be a focus of many campaigns. Although fairly cheap to make, landmines and demining practices can be incredibly expensive, a resource and amount of time not many can afford.

Below are some ways you can learn more about the efforts and methods of demining around the world, the global citizens affected, and how you can become involved, aware and take action. Also, check out these lesson plans (grade 5-10) from the Canadian Landmine Foundation.

Different Methods

APOPO HeroRATS – scent detection from African giant pouched rats is helping rid the world of landmines. Being light enough to not trigger them but smart enough to detect them, these HeroRATS are being humanely used to help make the job easier and faster.

UNMAS – collaborating with 11 other UN departments, agencies, programmes and funds, UNMAS ensure an effective, proactive and coordinated response to landmines and other explosive remants of war.

National Demining Institute, Mozambique – more than 20 years after its civil war ended, the Government of Mozambique announced in 2015 that they were landmine free!

More Organizations

Canadian Landmine Foundation
The HALO Trust
Landmine & Cluster Munition Monitor

Official UN photos

Written by: Keana Rellinger

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