Get serious – States must join landmine and cluster munition ban treaties

Source: International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL)

Geneva, 3 April 2009 — Global adherence to the Mine Ban Treaty and Convention on Cluster Munitions is the only effective way to stop the use of antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions, and to fully address the humanitarian consequences of past use of these weapons, the Nobel Peace Laureate International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) said today, on the eve of the UN’s International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action (4 April).

“Raising awareness on landmines and explosive remnants of war is essential, but it is not enough,” said the ICBL’s Executive Director Sylvie Brigot. “Those who only pay lip service to dealing with these inhumane weapons need to get serious. Unless and until all countries in the world join the treaties banning landmines and cluster munitions, these weapons will continue to claim the lives and limbs of innocent civilians.”

The ICBL calls on all states to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which provide the best framework to alleviate the suffering caused by these indiscriminate weapons and put an end to their use and proliferation. Governments who join the treaties must stop the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of landmines and cluster munitions. They commit to destroying their stocks, clearing all their contaminated areas or helping affected states to do so, and providing assistance to survivors, their families and communities.

The Mine Ban Treaty requires that states clear all mines, as opposed to simply fencing the hazardous areas or clearing only high-priority zones. Where it is fully implemented, the treaty truly helps make a difference in mine-affected communities. Over the last decade, casualty rates have steadily decreased, large tracts of land have been cleared and returned to productive use, and over 42 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed by States Parties to the treaty. Thanks to the stigma now attached to the use of mines, only two governments (Myanmar/Burma and Russia) and a handful of non-state armed groups have employed the weapon in the past few years.

“Achieving a mine-free world is a mission possible, but much progress is still needed, especially on providing meaningful and sustainable assistance to survivors. Continued commitment from governments is the essential condition to win the fight against landmines and cluster munitions. And that commitment should start with joining and fully implementing the landmine and cluster munition ban treaties,” Brigot concluded.

More information and interviews:

Amelie Chayer, ICBL, email: mediaSPAMFLTER@SPATMFLTERicbl.org, tel.: +33 (0)6 89 55 12 81

Background

According to Landmine Monitor, landmines still affect 70 countries and 6 territories.

Cluster munitions have been used in more than 30 countries and territories, and billions of submunitions are stockpiled by more than 70 countries.

80% of the world’s states (156 countries) have adhered to the Mine Ban Treaty. Thirty-nine states remain outside the treaty, including major powers like China, Russia and the USA.

Ninety-six states have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions since it was opened to signature on 3 December 2008, and five have already ratified. The Convention will become legally binding international law when 30 countries have ratified it.

Twenty-six countries and the European Commission donated US$430 million for mine action in 2007. This is a US$45 million decrease in global mine action funding compared to 2006.

The ICBL is a worldwide network of some 1,000 non-governmental organizations, working for a ban on landmines and cluster munitions. It received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to bring about the Mine Ban Treaty.

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