03 December 2014
(Washington DC, USA, 3 December 2014): Fewer people were killed and injured by landmines in 2013 than in any previous year, and nearly all use and production of the weapon has ceased, said the latest annual report of the Nobel Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Landmine Monitor 2014 was released on the seventeenth anniversary of the signing of the Mine Ban Treaty.
“While far too many people are still losing their lives and limbs to landmines, new casualties are at their lowest level ever recorded—possibly the best measure of how successful the Mine Ban Treaty has been,” said Megan Burke, casualties and victim assistance editor of Landmine Monitor. “But we can’t forget that there are hundreds of thousands of landmine survivors waiting for their needs to be met and their rights to be fulfilled,” Burke added.
In 2013, the recorded number of casualties caused by mines and other explosive remnants of war decreased to 3,308—the lowest level since the Monitor started recording casualties in 1999—and nearly one-quarter fewer than in 2012. In 2013, there was an average of nine victims per day, indicating that many lives are being saved when compared to the 25 each day reported in 1999. As in previous years, the vast majority of the recorded casualties were civilians (79%).
With the August 2014 accession by Oman, a total of 162 countries are now States Parties to the treaty. Of only 35 states still outside the agreement, almost all abide by its key provisions, indicating near-universal acceptance of the mine ban norm. A victory for global recognition of the treaty came when the United States announced new policies in June and September 2014 banning use of antipersonnel mines except on the Korean Peninsula, banning production of the weapon, and accelerating destruction of its stockpile. The US said that this is “signaling our clear aspiration to eventually accede” to the Mine Ban Treaty.
Landmine use remains isolated
There was no confirmed use of landmines by a member of the Mine Ban Treaty in the reporting period, from September 2013 to October 2014. There has only been one confirmed instance of a violation of the ban on use by a State Party, by Yemen in 2011.
Stocks of antipersonnel mines are present in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine between government forces and Russian-backed separatists, although it is not yet possible to determine whether antipersonnel mines have been used. Ukraine is a State Party to the treaty.
“Yemen must do more to clarify and hold accountable those who used antipersonnel landmines in 2011, and any use in Ukraine must be halted and fully investigated,” said Mark Hiznay, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch and ban policy editor of Landmine Monitor.
As recorded in the last year’s report, the Monitor again confirmed new use of antipersonnel mines by the government forces of Syria and Myanmar, states still outside the Mine Ban Treaty, as well as in the internationally unrecognized breakaway area of Nagorno-Karabakh; but the latest report found a sharp decline in new use in Myanmar.
Non-state armed groups used antipersonnel mines or victim-activated improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan, Colombia, Libya, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen, one fewer country (Tunisia) than reported in Landmine Monitor 2013.
Stockpiles, trade, and production continue to decline
More than 48 million stockpiled antipersonnel mines have been destroyed since 1999 and just six States Parties have yet to complete destruction of their stockpiles. Three of these countries failed to complete the destruction of their stockpiles within four years of joining the treaty and therefore remained in violation of that treaty provision: Belarus and Greece since 2008, and Ukraine since 2010.
The United States was removed from the list of potential landmine producers following its June 2014 policy announcement foreswearing any future production or acquisition of antipersonnel mines. Active production may be ongoing in as few as four countries: India, Myanmar, Pakistan, and South Korea.
In June 2014, China stated that its stockpile of antipersonnel mines numbered less than five million, not the 110 million previously estimated, and the United States stated its stockpile is now some three million, not the more than 10 million previously reported by the Pentagon.
For the past decade, the global trade in antipersonnel mines has consisted of a very low level of illicit and unacknowledged transfers, but the appearance of mines in Sudan and Yemen indicates that some form of market for, and trade in, antipersonnel mines exists.
Landmine clearance and support still critical
Today, 56 states (32 of which are treaty members) and four other areas (Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabakh, Somaliland, and Western Sahara) are known to have hazardous antipersonnel landmine contaminated areas. However, within the next five years, 40 of these states and three other areas are fully capable of completing the mine clearance obligations of the treaty if adequate resources are available.
The treaty obligates each State Party to clear all mined areas in its jurisdiction or control within a 10-year period, with provision for extension requests to be approved by member states.
Ten States Parties were granted extension requests within the past year. States were anticipating that Ethiopia, which has a clearance deadline of 1 June 2015, would also request an extension. It has not made one to date, thus leaving its status uncertain.
Of the 32 States Parties with outstanding mine clearance obligations, 23 have been granted at least one extension period and more than half of these are deemed to either not be on track with their extension requests or have not reported clear progress.
At the Third Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty in June 2014 in Maputo, Mozambique, States Parties agreed to set the goal of a mine-free world by 2025. “Most states can meet their treaty obligations by 2025, but they will have to redouble their efforts and make land release, including clearance where appropriate, a top priority,” said Atle Karlsen, deputy director of humanitarian disarmament at Norwegian People’s Aid and mine action research team leader of Landmine Monitor.
At least 185km2 of mined areas were released through clearance and survey in 2013—a decline from some 200 km2 in 2012—destroying almost 275,000 antipersonnel mines. The mine action programs in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Croatia continued to account for the large majority of area released worldwide, demonstrating that with determination progress is achievable.
Global expenditures for activities such as mine clearance, survey, and risk education, collectively known as mine action, totaled US$647 million in 2013, down from $681 million in 2012. International support for mine action amounted to almost $446 million in 2013, down $51 million from 2012’s record high of $497 million. Conversely, funding from national authorities increased by some $17 million in 2013, to $201 million.
“Sustained levels of international funding remains vital as mine-impacted countries continue striving to clear their last minefields and to assist landmine victims,” said Jeff Abramson, program manager of the Monitor initiative and final editor of Landmine Monitor 2014.
- Click here to view the Cluster Munition Monitor 2014 and related documents, including Major Findings (available in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish)
- Click here to visit the press room, including the full press release (available in Arabic, English, French, and Spanish)