|The Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) marked its seventh anniversary on March 1, 2006. The treaty comprehensively bans the use, production, and trade of antipersonnel mines. It requires the destruction of stockpiled mines within four years, and the clearance of all mined areas within ten years. It also obligates states to assist landmine survivors.
The MBT became international law on March 1, 1999 following ratification by 40 countries, not including the United States. With recent ratifications by Ukraine and Haiti, there are now 149 States Parties to the treaty, more than three-quarters of the world's nations. (States Parties refers to those countries that have adopted the treaty as part of their domestic laws.)
On the seventh anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) condemned the governments of Burma, Nepal and Russia for continuing to use antipersonnel mines, and expressed concern that the United States might resume production of antipersonnel mines for the first time in eight years.
Forty-five countries have not yet joined the Mine Ban Treaty, including Burma, Nepal, Russia, the United States, China, Cuba, India, Iran, North Korea, South Korea, Pakistan, Singapore, and Vietnam. In fact, the United States is due to make a decision in early 2006 on production of a new mine system called Spider that would be prohibited by the treaty.
The MBT is the only arms treaty in existence that makes provisions for the victims of landmines. Specifically, the treaty stipulates that States Parties will “provide assistance for the care and rehabilitation, and social and economic reintegration of mine victims.” This text was adapted into the final draft of the Mine Ban Treaty due largely in part to the efforts of LSN’s co-founders, Jerry White and Ken Rutherford. States Parties are now required, under international law, to provide assistance to landmine survivors in their country.
Assistance to mine survivors is still grossly inadequate. As an estimated 400,000 victims across the world struggle to rebuild their lives, states are lagging behind in providing the necessary resources for care, rehabilitation and socio-economic reintegration. “The final word is commitment,” said Jerry White, LSN’s Executive Director. “When governments commit to taking care of all their citizens, then real progress will be made.”
The treaty — which has been hailed as a unique partnership among governments, non-governmental organizations, including LSN, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and UN agencies — has resulted in many successes, making a real difference in the lives of people in mine-affected communities all around the world. Only three governments used antipersonnel mines in 2005. The number of countries that either produce or reserve the right to do so has fallen from more than 50 to 13. More than 38 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed.
Challenges remain. The danger of landmines to civilian populations continues to be great. Mines are being removed from the ground as mine action funding has increased, and the number of new landmine casualties each year has fallen significantly.However among our the biggest concerns in 2006:) is that many of the MBT States Parties with the earliest mine clearance deadlines are not on track to meet those deadlines. “We need renewed commitment and resources to demine the world,” said Jerry White.
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In April 2003, Jordan continued its longstanding commitment to demining and the Mine Ban Treaty with a dramatic destruction of almost 6,000 mines, its last stockpile. Inset: Jerry White, LSN Co-founder and Executive Director, meets with Jordanian Royal Corps of Engineers before final stockpile destruction.