The 18 September 2017 marked the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Ottawa Treaty prohibiting the use of anti-personnel (AP) mines. To date, it has been ratified by 162 States. The convention has made a significant contribution to reducing the use of anti-personnel (AP) mines and, consequently, to decreasing the number of victims.
In 2000, members of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines created Geneva Call in order to disseminate the Mine Ban Convention’s norms to armed movements. “
Since 2000, 49 armed movements have pledged to stop using, producing, stockpiling or selling AP mines by signing Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment banning AP mines,” explained Carla Ruta, Geneva Call’s legal adviser. “The signatories have mainly respected their commitments, bringing more safety to civilian populations.”
As a direct result of these commitments, several dozen thousand stockpiled AP mines belonging to signatory armed movements have been destroyed, along with thousands of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and explosive remnants of war (ERW). Thousands of square kilometres of contaminated land have been cleared, and the victims of these weapons have been assisted in areas controlled by armed movements, particularly in Western Sahara, Burma/Myanmar, Somalia and Iraq.
“In Syria, the People’s Protection Units (YPG)—signatories to the Deed—have reportedly cleared more than 90,000 AP mines and other explosive devices between 2013 and 2017, and they are cooperating with specialized civilian demining agencies,” added Carla Ruta. “In Western Sahara, after signing the Deed of Commitment, the Polisario Front destroyed more than 10,000 stockpiled AP mines, and assured Geneva Call that the destruction of its remaining AP mine stockpiles would be completed by the end of 2018.”
However, according to the Landmine Monitor report, armed movements in 10 countries continue to use AP mines, and the number of mine victims increased by 74% in 2015, ending a long-term decreasing trend. Furthermore, between 2011 and 2016, the worldwide use of explosive weapons in populated areas increased by 92%.
Great efforts will still be required to achieve a universal ban on these weapons. Worldwide, Geneva Call continues to engage more than 40 armed movements (both signatories and non-signatories to the Deed of Commitment) on banning AP mines and eliminating the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.