On 13 September 2002, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) will release the fourth annual report of its Landmine Monitor initiative, the 923-page Landmine Monitor Report 2002: Toward a Mine-Free World. This is the most comprehensive report on the global landmine situation, containing information on every country in the world with respect to mine use, production, trade, stockpiling, humanitarian mine clearance, mine risk education and mine survivor assistance.
Landmine Monitor is an unprecedented initiative by the ICBL to monitor implementation of and compliance with the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, and more generally to assess the efforts of the international community to resolve the landmines problem. Landmine Monitor Report 2002 focuses on a reporting period from May 2001 to mid-2002. However, it also provides a basis for evaluating progress in the five years since the Mine Ban Treaty was negotiated in Oslo in September 1997 and initially signed in Ottawa in December 1997.
It is abundantly clear from the wealth of information in Landmine Monitor Report 2002 that the Mine Ban Treaty and the ban movement more generally are making tremendous strides in eradicating antipersonnel landmines and in saving lives and limbs in every region of the world. This progress is shown by:
- Widespread international rejection of any use or possession of antipersonnel mines. A total of 125 countries are States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, and another 18 have signed but not yet ratified, constituting three-quarters of the world’s nations. Since the last Landmine Monitor report, eight countries have joined the Mine Ban Treaty. Among them are three countries that have recently used antipersonnel mines but now reject the weapon (Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Eritrea), as well as regional leaders Nigeria and Chile.
- Cessation of mine use in key countries. Since May 2001, nine governments have used antipersonnel mines. This compares to use by at least 13 governments in the previous reporting period. Mine use has halted, at least temporarily, in several countries where it has been most widespread in recent years: Angola (no use since the April 2002 peace agreement); Eritrea and Ethiopia (no use since the end of the border conflict in June 2000); and Sri Lanka (no use since a cease-fire in December 2001). Also, in contrast to the previous reporting period, Landmine Monitor has not recorded new mine use by the governments of DR Congo, Israel, and Kyrgyzstan, nor by rebels based in Angola, FYR Macedonia, Senegal, Sri Lanka, and Uganda.
- Dramatic reductions in antipersonnel mine stockpiles. More than 34 million antipersonnel mines have been destroyed by 61 states, including some 7 million in this reporting period. A total of 33 Mine Ban Treaty States Parties have completed destruction of their antipersonnel mine stockpiles, including six in this reporting period (Czech Republic, Ecuador, Peru, Sweden, Albania, and Yemen).
- Fewer new mine victims. Landmine Monitors ever-more detailed research on landmine casualties confirmed the major finding announced last year: the estimated the number of new landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) casualties is now between 15,000 and 20,000 per year. This represents a significant reduction in the long-standing and commonly cited estimate of 26,000 new casualties each year. Reported new mine casualties remained constant in 2001. Landmine Monitor identified at least 7,987 new casualties to landmines and UXO in 2001, as compared to 8,064 in 2000. However, the lack of reliable reporting in some countries, and the underreporting of casualties in many countries, must be acknowledged.
- Expanding mine action programs. Mine action funding has totaled over $1.4 billion in the past decade, including some $700 million the past three years. In recent years, there have been expanding programs for mine clearance, mine risk education, and mine survivor assistance, as well as a major initiative to carry out Landmine Impact Surveys. In this reporting period, some form of mine clearance was underway in 74 of 90 mine-affected countries. In 2001, new mine risk education programs were initiated in ten countries. The first Landmine Impact Survey was completed in July 2000; since then five others have been completed and eight more are underway or being planned.
- Decreased production and trade. The number of antipersonnel mine producers has dropped from 55 to 14. Of the 14 countries still considered active producers by Landmine Monitor, at least three (Egypt, South Korea, and the U.S.) report no production in recent years. Global trade in antipersonnel mines has been reduced to a smattering of illicit or covert transactions since the mid-1990s.
Key concerns that emerge from Landmine Monitor Report 2002 include:
- Massive new mine-laying operations by India and Pakistan likely mean that more mines went into the ground than in the previous reporting period. Since late December 2001, both India and Pakistan have emplaced large numbers of antipersonnel mines along their common border. This is one of the largest-scale mine laying operations anywhere in the world since 1997, though details are scant due to military secrecy and lack of access to the areas.
- Global mine action funding stagnated in 2001—the first time since 1992 that a significant increase has not been registered. Landmine Monitor identified $237 million in mine action funding in 2001, a decrease of about $4 million from 2000. The US continued to be the largest donor, but its mine action funding fell by $13.2 million. Of the 20 major donors, nine had increased mine action funding in 2001 and eleven had decreased funding.
- It is increasingly evident that at current levels of mine action funding and demining, many mine-affected States Parties will not meet the ten-year deadline for completion of mine clearance.
Other major findings of the Landmine Monitor Report 2002 include:
- Landmine Monitor research identifies 90 countries that are affected to some degree by landmines and/or unexploded ordnance.
- Landmine Monitor research indicates that there were new mine/UXO victims reported in 69 countries in 2001, compared to 70 in 2000. A majority (46) of these countries were at peace, not war. The greatest number of reported new victims in this time period appear to be found in Afghanistan, Russia (Chechnya), Cambodia, Angola, Nepal, India, northern Iraq, and, likely, Burma. Significant numbers of new victims are also found in Colombia, DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and, likely, Vietnam.
- Landmine Impact Surveys have been completed in Cambodia, Chad, Mozambique, Thailand, and Yemen, as well as Kosovo. There are surveys underway or being planned in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Somalia (Somaliland), and Vietnam.
- In this reporting period, the following countries which have not joined the Mine Ban Treaty have acknowledged use of antipersonnel mines: Burma (Myanmar), India, Pakistan, Russia, and Sri Lanka. Other non-signatories who are credibly reported to have used antipersonnel mines include Georgia, Nepal, and Somalia. Angola, while still a signatory in 2001, acknowledged use of antipersonnel mines.
- A Georgian Defense Ministry official told Landmine Monitor that Georgian Armed Forces laid antipersonnel mines in several passes in the Kodori gorge (bordering Abkhazia) in 2001. News accounts reported this also. This would appear to end the official Georgian moratorium on the use of antipersonnel mines in place since September 1996. However, the Georgian Foreign Ministry has denied any use of antipersonnel mines. Abkhazian authorities have acknowledged use of antipersonnel mines for the first time in recent years.
- In this reporting period, opposition groups are reported to have used antipersonnel mines in at least 14 countries. This compares to reports of use by non-state actors in at least 18 countries in the previous reporting period.
- In Afghanistan, in the fighting following 11 September 2001, there were reports of limited use of mines and booby-traps by Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters, as well as the Northern Alliance. The Taliban previously claimed to have stopped use in 1998, though some allegations persisted. There were no instances of use of antipersonnel mines by the United States or coalition forces.
- For the first time since its inception in 1998, Landmine Monitor has received evidence of significant transfers of antipersonnel mines—from Iran, which ostensibly instituted an export moratorium on antipersonnel mines in 1997. Mine clearance organizations in Afghanistan are encountering many hundreds of Iranian-manufactured YM-I and YM-I-B antipersonnel mines, dated 1999 and 2000, presumably laid by the Northern Alliance forces in the last few years. Additionally in January 2002, Israel seized a ship it reports was carrying 311 YM-I antipersonnel mines; Israel claimed the ship originated from Iran and was destined for Palestine.
- Landmine Monitor estimates that there are some 230 million antipersonnel mines in the arsenals of 94 countries, with the biggest estimated to be China (110 million), Russia (60-70 million), United States (11.2 million), Ukraine (6.4 million), Pakistan (6 million), India (4-5 million), and Belarus (4.5 million).
- Thirty-three Mine Ban Treaty States Parties have completely destroyed their antipersonnel mine stockpiles, and another 22 are in the process. Seventeen States Parties known to have stockpiles have yet to begin destruction, which must be completed within four years of entry into force for each nation. The deadline for many nations is in 2003.
- Although the United Nations records that Tajikistan acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 12 October 1999, it is not clear that Tajikistan considers itself a State Party formally bound by the treaty. It indicated on several occasions in 2001 and 2002 that it does not believe it has completed all necessary procedures. Tajikistan has not met its Mine Ban Treaty requirements to submit transparency reports and to adopt national implementation measures. It has not started or planned for stockpile destruction. Most disturbing, Russian forces have laid antipersonnel mines inside Tajikistan, apparently with the consent of the Tajik government.
A total of 115 Landmine Monitor researchers in 90 countries systematically collected and analyzed information from a wide variety of sources for this comprehensive report. The book also includes appendices with reports from major actors in the mine ban movement, such as UN agencies, regional organizations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Survey Action Center, and the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining.
The ICBL received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to eradicate antipersonnel mines. The Landmine Monitor initiative is coordinated by a “Core Group” of five ICBL organizations. Human Rights Watch is the lead organization and others include Handicap International Belgium, Kenya Coalition Against Landmines, Mines Action Canada, and Norwegian People’s Aid.