1. COUNTDOWN TO THE 8TH MEETING OF STATES PARTIES
The 8th Meeting of the States Parties (8MSP) will take place in Jordan from 18 to 22 November. This is a special meeting because it is the first time it will be held in a Middle Eastern state, and because this is the 10th anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty.
As usual, the ICBL will have a large and dynamic representation at the 8MSP, and with this presence we will be able to make our views known – in the plenary and in side meetings. The overall message we want to convey is that we believe the treaty is a “Success in Progress.” This means that at this point in the treaty’s development, we can call it a success. There are 155 States Parties, more and more land is being demined every year, and while the number of survivors continues to grow, the number of new victims is declining because of the enormous efforts in mine clearance and mine risk education. None of this would have occurred without a powerful, comprehensive treaty guiding states’ way.
On the other hand, the success of the treaty is by no means assured, and we cannot afford to rest yet. The remaining challenges – which we will hear much about during the 8MSP – are numerous and serious. And we need to continue to speak out so that the work continues until they are all met. Here are some of the points that we need to be vocal on during the 8MSP:
- We can be pleased that there are 155 States Parties, including two from the region that just acceded this summer (Kuwait and Iraq). But that still leaves 40 countries outside the treaty, including some of the largest former producers and users, as well as stockpilers.
- It appears some countries are putting off mine clearance to keep military advantage of mined areas. This practice would likely violate the treaty’s ban on use. All areas must be cleared as soon as possible.
- A few countries with remaining stockpiles will need extra help to finish within their deadlines because of the large numbers or technical challenges. States Parties need to remain committed to providing international assistance and cooperation until all the work is done.
- Many states are also keeping mines under Article 3 of the treaty, but they do not appear to be keeping them for the permitted reasons (training and research). Our message is: retained mines should be used for permitted purposes or destroyed immediately.
- Next year the focus will be on extension requests for states’ 10 year mine clearance deadline. But at the 8MSP, the focus should be on efforts to clear the land as quickly, efficiently and safely as possible. With this in mind, there will be a special informal session to talk about states’ practical experiences in dealing with Article 5 implementation challenges.
- The treaty calls for survivors’ rights to be protected and needs met – for life! The steps States Parties with survivors have taken so far have not risen to this large and critical challenge.
So at the 8MSP, our message is clear: the success of the treaty depends on our continued hard work. We cannot yet be satisfied. We cannot yet move on. Success will not be guaranteed until the last mines are cleared and destroyed, and the needs and rights of survivors are ensured everywhere. This is the challenge of a lifetime.
- Tamar Gabelnick, ICBL