International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL)
While the situation has improved in recent years, antipersonnel landmines are still being laid today, mutilating and killing people together with mines from previous conflicts. They continue to claim victims in every corner of the globe each day. The situation has improved in recent years, but a global mine crisis remains and there is still a lot to be done before we live in a mine-free world. To address some of these issues, the 7th Meeting of the States Parties (7MSP) of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty will be held in United Nations premises in Geneva, Switzerland at the end of September.
Antipersonnel mines cannot be aimed: they do not distinguish between the footfall of a soldier or a child. They lie dormant until a person or animal triggers their detonating mechanism. Then, landmines kill or injure civilians, soldiers, peacekeepers and aid workers alike. When triggered, a landmine unleashes unspeakable destruction.
A landmine blast causes injuries like blindness, burns, and destroyed limbs and shrapnel wounds. Sometimes the victim dies from the blast, due to loss of blood or because they don't get to medical care in time. Those who survive and receive medical treatment often require amputations, long hospital stays and extensive rehabilitation.
The injuries are no accident, since landmines are designed to maim rather than kill their victims. Mine deaths and injuries over the past decades now total in the hundreds of thousands. It is estimated that there are between 15,000 and 20,000 new casualties caused by landmines and unexploded ordnance each year. That means there are some 1,500 new casualties each month, more than 40 new casualties a day, at least two new casualties per hour. Most of the casualties are civilians and most live in countries that are now at peace. In Cambodia, for example there are over 45,000 landmine survivors recorded between 1979 and 2005. Some 20,000 people were killed in this period. More than 75 % of the total casualties were civilians Landmines deprive people in some of the poorest countries of land and infrastructure. Once there is peace most soldiers will be demobilized and give in their guns, mines however don't recognize a cease-fire. They hold up the repatriation of refugees and displaced people. They also hamper reconstruction and the delivery of aid. Assistance to landmine survivors can be an enormous strain on resources. Landmine casualties deprive communities and families of breadwinners. Mines also kill livestock and wild animals and wreak environmental havoc.
Nobody knows how many mines are in the ground. But the actual number is less important than their impact: it can take only two or three mines or the mere suspicion of their presence to render a patch of land. Some of the most contaminated places are Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chechnya, Colombia, Iraq, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Some countries with a mine problem don't provide much public information about the extent of the problem such as Myanmar (Burma), India or Pakistan.
Sadly, antipersonnel landmines are still being planted today and minefields dating back decades continue to lie in wait of innocent victims. Vast stockpiles of landmines remain in warehouses around the world and a handful of countries still produce the weapon.
Both the causes and the effects of the landmine crisis need to be addressed. Efforts need to include halting mine laying, production and stockpiling, clearing mined areas and helping landmine survivors.
Action is needed to remove mines from the ground, ensure that minefields are fenced off and marked and that communities receive education about mine risks, destroy mines in stockpiles, meet the needs of mine victims, ensure that all countries joins the Mine Ban Treaty and undertake to never again produce, use or sell antipersonnel mines. Ensure that once a State joins, it fully implements the Mine Ban Treaty e.g. by submitting transparency reports, meeting deadlines for stockpile destruction and mine clearance, and assisting the victims of landmines, ensure that countries outside of the Mine Ban Treaty abide by the spirit of the agreement and refrain from use, production and stockpiling of the weapon, persuade non state actors to ban landmines and abide by the spirit of the treaty, and condemn any use or production by a state.
Volunteers helped with general delegate assistance for this event.