02 June 2009

Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention, 25 May 2009 - Delivered by Tamar Gabelnick, ICBL Treaty Implementation Director

Thank you Mr. Co-Chair. We would like to take note of a few quantitative trends in annual reporting plus suggest some ways in which we believe the quality of future reports could be enhanced. Information in this statement is drawn from the Landmine Monitor Fact Sheet on Article 7 available outside this room.

First, we are disappointed by the decreasing rate of annual updates submitted. We have gone from a high of 78% of States Parties submitting their annual report for calendar year 2003 (submitted in the year of the First Review Conference) to a low of 62% for calendar year 2007 (the same rate as 2005 and 2002). So far we only have a 47% rate of compliance for 2008 updates due on 30 April 2009. We are troubled that the rate of compliance remains so low. The annual reporting update is not only a treaty requirement, but it is one of the main ways that States Parties communicate progress and challenges in treaty implementation. Perhaps some of the problems we are now facing with non-compliance or delayed compliance could have been avoided if those States Parties had clearly signaled, at an early stage, the problems they were facing.

In addition, we have observed that many countries are failing to submit reports year after year. We count 50 states that have habitually not submitted annual updates, including 39 that have not submitted reports for the past 3 years or more. Many of these states were never or are no longer mine-affected, but the annual reporting update applies to all states regardless of their treaty status. Indeed, a large number of these “repeat offenders” has not provided information on national implementation measures, an essential treaty obligation. In order to facilitate reporting for states that have already fulfilled one or more of their treaty obligations, there is a cover sheet available that allows states to simply check a box if nothing has changed from the previous report. We call on all States Parties to reverse this downward trend in annual reporting and achieve 100% reporting on calendar year 2008 before the 2nd Review Conference.

We are very close to 100% compliance with the treaty’s initial reporting obligation under Article 7, but we are still missing reports from Cape Verde (due 30 April 2002), Equatorial Guinea (due 28 August 1999), and The Gambia (due 28 August 2003). We know that many contacts – including by the ICBL, the ICRC, the GSOC cochairs, the Contact Group co-chair, and the ISU - have been made with the remaining three states: but to no avail (although it did lead to Haiti’s submission, which we were pleased do see come in this spring). Without their initial reports, we have no way to know what treaty obligations are relevant to those states and what steps – if any - they have taken to implement them. We sincerely hope that these last three states comply by the Review Conference.

We see a continued positive trend on voluntary reporting with reports submitted this year from Poland (its seventh report) and Morocco (its third). There have also been voluntary report submissions from Azerbaijan in 2008, Mongolia in 2007, and Sri Lanka in 2005. We welcome such reports as a step on the path to accession to the Mine Ban Treaty. Annual reports are not just about quantity of reports submitted, but the quality of what is included. We see a broad range of quality in annual reports – from very detailed descriptions of mined areas to minimal or no updates on the status of programs for clearance or stockpile destruction. We are encouraged to see a few states that received mine clearance extensions last year include some progress updates on their plans for the extension period. There have been over the years some efforts to enhance the quality of the reports, including in ways that help shed light on key issues of concern for States Parties and the ICBL.

For example, States Parties are now asked to provide information on the past and planned use of mines retained under Article 3 to show that they are being used for permitted purposes. So far, 21 states have made use of the revised Form D. Others are providing information about use or destruction of such mines through the old version of Form D. We call on all of the 71 states retaining mines under Article 3 to use the revised Form D agreed by States Parties over three years ago. A small number of states – including Afghanistan, which just reported the destruction of over 62,000 newly discovered mines, as well as Bulgaria, Burundi, the Republic of Congo, and Tajikistan – are using amended Forms B and G to report on the discovery and destruction of stockpiles of landmines after their official destruction programs ended. We have heard about such discoveries in several more states and call on all such states to report on what has been discovered and what steps have been taken to destroy them, as agreed at the 8MSP.

We are pleased that several states are reporting on Claymore mines and OZM-72 mines and steps taken to ensure they can be used in command-detonation mode only, including: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brunei, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Finally, we would like to suggest that additional recommendations be made through the Cartagena Action Plan to elicit better information on key treaty obligations.First the following recommendations are ways to enhance information required to be submitted:

  • More details about the status of programs to destroy stockpiles, including specific benchmarks towards complete destruction and progress in reaching them.
  • Much better information about the status of programs to destroy mines in mined areas, including the size and location of the mined area cleared or released through technical or non-technical means and plans to clear remaining areas “as soon as possible.”
  • Specific updates on the implementation of plans submitted in connection with Article 5 extension requests.

In addition, we strongly recommend the following points of information be requested of States Parties to showhow states are meeting all treaty obligations.

  • Status and progress on providing “assistance for the care and rehabilitation, and social and economic reintegration, of mine victims.”
  • The amount of national resources, including financial, material or in kind, allocated to the implementation of Articles 4, 5 and 6 of this Convention; and
  • The quantity, type and destination of international cooperation and assistance provided under Article 6 of this Convention.
  • Steps taken to ensure Claymore mines and OZM-72 mines can only be used in command-detonated form.

Thank you.