Signatories to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty – which earned the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize – are obligated to cease production and development; to destroy stockpiles within four years; and to clear areas contaminated with anti-personnel mines within ten years. Some 159 countries have completed the destruction of stockpiles and 33 are now considered to be landmine free.
There’s still work to be done, however. Worldwide, 60 states are contaminated with landmines, 32 of which are signatories to the Mine Ban Treaty. Just six of these are on target to reach the 2025 deadline for full landmine clearance and seven have requested extensions. ICBL ambassador Margaret Arach Orech is urging states not to lose focus. ‘Every mine left in the ground, represents a human toll in lives and limbs lost,’ she says.
ICBL’s Landmine Monitor has collected data on the landmine crisis for the past 22 years. A record low number of casualties was recorded in 2013, largely owing to steep declines in Afghanistan, Cambodia and Colombia. ‘Prior to 2013, Cambodia recorded casualties in the thousands – numbers are now below 100,’ says Marion Loddo, Landmine Monitor editorial manager.
‘Another factor was that people living with these weapons became more aware of them,’ says Michael Boyce, global policy advisor at the Mines Advisory Group, a British charity that clears mines in more than 25 countries.
However, across the world, re-emerging, high-intensity conflicts have seen increased use of mines by non-state armed groups. ‘Since 2013, there has been a massive spike in the use of improvised anti-personnel mines in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, along with their emerging use in West Africa,’ says Boyce. This trend is reflected in the casualty numbers. The Landmine Monitor 2020 recorded 5,554 casualties in 2019. Although down from the 6,897 casualties of 2018, it’s 60 per cent higher than the low of 2013.