Landmines and Explosive Remnants of War
Peace agreements may be signed, and hostilities may cease, but landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) are an enduring legacy of conflict.
Antipersonnel mines are munitions designed to explode from the presence, proximity, or contact of a person. Antivehicle mines are munitions designed to explode from the presence, proximity, or contact of a vehicle as opposed to a person.
ERW refer to ordnance left behind after a conflict. ERW includes unexploded artillery shells, grenades, mortars, rockets, air-dropped bombs, and cluster munitions. Cluster munitions consist of containers and submunitions. Launched from the ground or the air, the containers open and disperse submunitions over a wide area.
Landmines are victim-activated and indiscriminate; whoever triggers the mine, whether a child or a soldier, becomes its next victim. Mines emplaced during a conflict against enemy forces can still kill or injure civilians decades later.
Weapons that for some reason fail to detonate as intended become unexploded ordnance (UXO). These unstable explosive devices are left behind during and after conflicts and pose dangers similar to landmines. Abandoned explosive ordnance (AXO) is explosive ordnance that has not been used during armed conflict and has been left behind and is no longer under control of the party that left it behind. It may or may not have been primed, fuzed, armed, or otherwise prepared for use. Under the international legal definition, ERW consist of UXO and AXO, but not mines.
Both landmines and ERW pose a serious and ongoing threat to civilians. These weapons can be found on roads, footpaths, farmer’s fields, forests, deserts, along borders, in and surrounding houses and schools, and in other places where people are carrying out their daily activities. They deny access to food, water, and other basic needs, and inhibit freedom of movement. They prevent the repatriation of refugees and internally displaced people, and hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid.
These weapons instill fear in communities, whose citizens often know they are walking in mined areas, but have no possibility to farm other land, or take another route to school. When land cannot be cultivated, when medical systems are drained by the cost of attending to landmine/ERW casualties, and when countries must spend money clearing mines rather than paying for education, it is clear that these weapons not only cause appalling human suffering, they are also a lethal barrier to development and post-conflict reconstruction.
There are solutions to the global landmine and ERW problem. The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty provides the best framework for governments to alleviate the suffering of civilians living in areas affected by antipersonnel mines. Governments who join this treaty must stop the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of antipersonnel mines immediately. They must destroy all stockpiled antipersonnel mines within four years, and clear all antipersonnel landmines in all mined areas under their jurisdiction or control within 10 years. In addition, States Parties in a position to do so must provide assistance for the care and treatment of landmine survivors, their families and communities, and support for mine/ERW risk education programs to help prevent mine incidents.
Until May 2008, the only international legislation explicitly covering ERW was Protocol V of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). Its provisions are considered insufficient by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), but Protocol V does make efforts to address responsibility for ERW clearance, sharing information for clearance, mine/ERW risk education, warning civilian populations, and assistance.
Using the Mine Ban Treaty as a model, building on its strengths and learning from experiences in implementing its provisions, in May 2008, the Convention on Cluster Munitions was negotiated in Dublin, Ireland, and formally adopted by a total of 107 countries. This new treaty is a legally binding agreement prohibiting cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians. When the treaty enters into force, States Parties will be obliged to stop the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of cluster munitions immediately. States must destroy all stockpiled cluster munitions within eight years of becoming party to the treaty, and clear all cluster munitions in areas under their jurisdiction or control within 10 years. In addition, States Parties in a position to do so must provide assistance for the care and treatment of cluster munition survivors, and support mine/ERW risk education programs to help prevent cluster munition casualties. The Convention on Cluster Munitions includes ground-breaking provisions for victim assistance, and includes those killed or injured by cluster munitions, their families and communities in the definition of a cluster munition survivor. The Convention on Cluster Munition will be opened for signature in Oslo, Norway on 3 December 2008.
These legal instruments provide a framework for taking action, but it is up to governments to implement treaty obligations, and it is the task of NGOs to work together with governments to ensure they uphold their treaty obligations.
The ICBL’s ultimate goal is a landmine- and ERW-free world, where civilians can walk freely without the fear of stepping on a mine, and where children can play without mistaking an unexploded submunition for a toy.
International Campaign to Ban Landmines
The ICBL is a coalition of more than 1,000 organizations in 72 countries, working locally, nationally, and internationally to eradicate antipersonnel mines.
The campaign is a loose, flexible network, whose members share the common goal of working to eliminate antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions.
The ICBL was launched in October 1992 by a group of six non-governmental organizations: Handicap International, Human Rights Watch, Medico International, Mines Advisory Group, Physicians for Human Rights and Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation. These founding organizations witnessed the horrendous effects of mines on the communities they were working with in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America, and saw how mines hampered and even prevented their development efforts in these countries. They realized that a comprehensive solution was needed to address the crisis caused by landmines, and that the solution was a complete ban on antipersonnel landmines.
The founding organizations brought to the international campaign practical experience of the impact of landmines. They also brought the perspective of the different sectors they represented: human rights, children’s rights, development issues, refugee issues, and medical and humanitarian relief. ICBL member campaigns contacted other NGOs, who spread the word through their networks; news of this new coalition and the need for a treaty banning antipersonnel landmines soon stretched throughout the world. The ICBL organized conferences and campaigning events in many countries to raise awareness of the landmine problem and the need for a ban, and to provide training to new campaigners to enable them to be effective advocates in their respective countries.
Campaign members worked at the local, national, regional and global level to encourage their governments to support the mine ban. The ICBL’s membership grew rapidly, and today there are campaigns in 72 countries.
The Mine Ban Treaty was opened for signature on 3 December 1997 in Ottawa, Canada, more than 10 years ago. It is in part due to sustained and coordinated action by the ICBL that the Mine Ban Treaty became a reality.
Part of the ICBL’s success is its ability to evolve with changing circumstances. The early days of the campaign were focused on developing a comprehensive treaty banning antipersonnel landmines. Once this goal was achieved, attention shifted to ensuring that all countries join the treaty, and that all States Parties fully implement their treaty obligations.
The ICBL works to promote the global norm against mine use, and advocates for countries who have not joined the treaty to take steps to join the treaty. The campaign also urges non-state armed groups to abide by the spirit of the treaty.
Much of the ICBL’s work is focused on promoting implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty, which provides the most effective framework for eliminating antipersonnel landmines. This includes working in partnership with governments and international organizations on all aspects of treaty implementation, from stockpile destruction to mine clearance to victim assistance.
In 2007, the ICBL began actively campaigning in support of the Oslo Process to negotiate a treaty prohibiting cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians. This marked the first time that the ICBL engaged substantively on an issue other than antipersonnel mines. The ICBL chose to begin working to address the cluster munition threat at the beginning of the Convention on Cluster Munitions negotiation process. The goal was to help prevent another humanitarian crisis similar to the global mine problem, because cluster munitions leave behind unexploded submunitions with effects similar to antipersonnel mines. The ICBL is dedicated to working toward the full universalization and implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and many ICBL member organizations have already been actively campaigning against cluster munitions.
The ICBL is committed to pushing for the complete eradication of antipersonnel mines and cluster munitions. The campaign has been successful in part because it has a clear campaign message and goal; a non-bureaucratic campaign structure and flexible strategy; and an effective partnership with other NGOs, international organizations, and governments.
Eleven years after its opening for signature, the ICBL considers the Mine Ban Treaty a success in progress, meaning that an enormous amount has been accomplished so far, but that continued vigilance is required to ensure its universal implementation. The ICBL will work to ensure similar success for the Convention on Cluster Munitions and ICBL member campaigns will continue their work until the goal of a world without mines or cluster munitions becomes a reality.
Landmine Monitor Report 2008 is the tenth annual report. Since 1999, each of the nine previous reports have been presented to the respective annual meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty.
Landmine Monitor is the ICBL’s research and monitoring initiative and the de facto monitoring regime for the Mine Ban Treaty. It monitors and reports on States Parties’ implementation of, and compliance with, the Mine Ban Treaty, and more generally, it assesses the international community’s response to the humanitarian problem caused by landmines and ERW. The Landmine Monitor project represents the first time that NGOs have come together in a coordinated, systematic, and sustained way to monitor a humanitarian law or disarmament treaty, and to regularly document progress and problems, thereby successfully putting into practice the concept of civil society-based verification.
In June 1998, the ICBL formally agreed to create Landmine Monitor as an ICBL initiative. A four-member Editorial Board coordinates the Landmine Monitor system: Mines Action Canada, Handicap International, Human Rights Watch, and Norwegian People’s Aid. Mines Action Canada serves as the lead agency. The Editorial Board assumes overall responsibility for, and decision-making on, the Landmine Monitor system.
Landmine Monitor is not a technical verification system or a formal inspection regime. It is an attempt by civil society to hold governments accountable to the obligations they have taken on with respect to antipersonnel mines. This is done through extensive collection, analysis, and distribution of publicly available information. Although in some cases it does entail investigative missions, Landmine Monitor is not designed to send researchers into harm’s way and does not include hot war-zone reporting.
Landmine Monitor is designed to complement the States Parties’ transparency reporting required under Article 7 of the Mine Ban Treaty. It reflects the shared view that transparency, trust and mutual collaboration are crucial elements for the successful eradication of antipersonnel mines. Landmine Monitor was also established in recognition of the need for independent reporting and evaluation.
Landmine Monitor aims to promote and advance discussion on mine and ERW-related issues, and to seek clarifications, to help reach the goal of a world free of mines and ERW, including cluster munitions. Landmine Monitor works in good faith to provide factual information about issues it is monitoring, in order to benefit the international community as a whole.
The Landmine Monitor system features a global reporting network and an annual report. A network of 59 Landmine Monitor researchers from 46 countries, and a 20-person Editorial Team gathered information to prepare this report. The researchers come from the ICBL’s campaigning coalition and from other elements of civil society, including journalists, academics, and research institutions.
The 2008 Annual Report contains information on 120 countries and other areas with respect to ban policy, use, production, transfer, stockpiling, demining, mine/ERW risk education, casualties, victim assistance, and support for mine action. It covers affected countries, States Parties with major outstanding treaty implementation obligations, and states not party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It includes summary and analysis of trends in ban policy, mine action, mine/ERW risk education, casualties and victim assistance, and support for mine action. An Executive Summary is published separately, in addition to a set of maps. A CD-ROM containing the Annual Report and translations of the Executive Summary and maps in Arabic, French, Russian and Spanish, comes packaged together with the Executive Summary. All report contents are available online at www.icbl.org/lm/2008.