11 March 2015
A groundbreaking agreement to increase safety and security
Representative of Colombia signing the Maputo +15 Declaration at the Third Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty, 26 June 2014. ©MBT,ISU.
After years of negotiation, a groundbreaking agreement has been reached between the Government of Colombia and the non-state armed group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to get rid of landmines.
This is a significant achievement, for a country that is severely affected by the scourge of landmines and explosive remnants of war. Over 11,000 Colombians have been killed or injured by mines and explosive remnants of war. Year after year, Colombia is sadly recognized as one of the three states where the most people die or are injured by landmine blasts. As many as 30 of the 32 departments of Colombia may have mine contamination. Millions of dollars are being spent each year to remove and destroy mines. The FARC has manufactured and used antipersonnel mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Colombia.
“I welcome the signing of this historic agreement. I believe that with full implementation of the agreement, countless lives of Colombian will be saved. We are looking forward to see the agreement fully translated into action on the ground.” Said Alvaro Jimenez, Coordinator of the Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines (CCCM). “We also call on the ELN to stop using mines and to take action to get rid of landmines once and for all” Jimenez added.
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) congratulates the Colombian government and all participants to the Colombian peace talks for the recent agreement that will facilitate mine clearance. This is a major step for peace, one that will increase the safety and security of the Colombian people, many of whom have lived with the risks of landmines in their communities for too long already. We also recognize and commend the CCCM, the national campaign of the ICBL, the efforts of volunteers and other stakeholders that have worked tirelessly for the inclusion of discussions on landmines and their clearance as an important component of the Colombian peace talks.
It is the first time the Government of Colombia and the FARC prioritize safety of civilians that have been affected by armed conflicts. The agreement can resolve restrictions of movement, transportation, access to drinking water and access to schools in affected communities. Mine clearance is, therefore, vital for affected Colombian communities. It is equally important that the use of landmines is entirely halted by all users including by the FARC.
Colombia has been a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty since 2001. In 2004, Colombia reported the destruction of over 18,500 stockpiled antipersonnel mines. In accordance with the treaty, Colombia is required to complete mine clearance by 2021. A swift practical implementation of the mine clearance deal will be crucial for Colombia to meet this deadline.