Update on the Mine Ban Treaty

personne déminne au Liban
© Stuart Freedman for Handicap International

European Parliament Motion on “Progress on Mine Action”

On 4 April 2011, a Motion for a European Parliament Resolution “On Progress on Mine Action”, by Rapporteur Geoffrey Van Orden, has been published. The Motion was discussed in the Committee on Foreign Affairs on 13 April 2011. ICBL-CMC insisted on the need for full universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty as well as the Convention on Cluster Munitions “as the best instruments to support clearance of mines and ERW, prevent any further contamination, and protect the rights of survivors.” Several groups of the EP introduced amendments on 3 May 2011. The vote on the amendments took place on 24 May in the Committee on Foreign Affairs that adopted several amendments, including amendments to strengthen Mine Action and to support the CCM.

For an update on the Status of the Mine Ban Treaty
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Libyan National Transitional Council pledged not to use antipersonnel and anti-vehicle mines

The Libyan National Transitional Council signed an official pledge on 28 April 2011, committing that “no forces under the command and control of the Libyan National Transitional Council will use antipersonnel or anti-vehicle landmines.” This pledge was received by Human Rights Watch in an official communiqué signed by the vice chairman of the National Transitional Council. The rebels also pledged to “destroy all landmines in their possession” and to “cooperate in the provision of mine clearance, risk education, and victim assistance.” The communiqué said further that “any future Libyan government should relinquish landmines and join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.” The rebel authorities had previously stated to ICBL member organizations Human Rights Watch (HRW), Handicap International (HI) and Mines Advisory Group, as well as to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), in a meeting on 20 April that their forces would not use landmines. However, this commitment was not respected by some rebel forces. After “an extensive advocacy effort” by HI, HRW, UNICEF and UNMAS, as reported the Emergencies Director of Human Rights Watch on 30 April 2011 to UN and ICBL-CMC members, a public pledge was signed.

The ICBL Director said on 30 April in a press release that ICBL continues “to urge Libya’s government to renounce the use of landmines and to ensure rapid clearance and destruction of all landmines.”

Text of the “Communiqué by the Libyan National Transitional Council regarding Landmines”:
Landmines in Libya: Technical Briefing Note
Risk education mission by Handicap International

ICBL condemned mine use in Libya

In a press release on 31 March 2011, ICBL strongly condemned the reported use of antipersonnel mines by the Libyan Armed Forces in recent fighting with rebels in eastern Libya. On 28 March 2011, over 50 antipersonnel and anti-vehicle mines were discovered near power pylons outside the town of Ajdabiya by electrical technicians. A HRW investigation reported that the mines had recently been laid. The ICBL strongly urged Libya to halt any further use of mines; provide information on the location, quantities, and types of all mines laid to enable rapid clearance; and to join the Mine Ban Treaty without delay.


Worldwide Actions to urge U.S. to join MBT   

On 13 May 2011, civil society already had 35 meetings at US embassies worldwide to urge the U.S. to join the Mine Ban Treaty. In 60 countries actions have been taken. The campaign started on 1 March 2011, 12 years after the Mine Ban Treaty took effect. The Obama Administration started a comprehensive review of its landmine policy in late 2009 to determine whether to join the MBT. Officials have consulted with allies, States Parties to the treaty, international organizations, civil society including landmine survivors, and former military personnel. No date for completing the review has been made public yet. ICBL said in a press release on 13 May 2011: “By joining the Mine Ban Treaty, the U.S. would help send a clear signal that all types of antipersonnel mines are unacceptable weapons, would strengthen international security, and would spur to action some of the other 38 states still outside the treaty.” Lynn Bradach, Ban Advocate from the U.S. added on the Ban Advocates blog: “The U.S. already follows the core obligations of the Mine Ban Treaty: it has not used antipersonnel landmines since 1991, has not exported any since 1992, and has not produced since 1997. It is also the world's largest individual donor to mine action and victim assistance programs. This should be complemented by a legal commitment to end the threat of use of antipersonnel mines.”

ICBL urged Israel to clear all minefields

The Israelian Parliament (Knesset) adopted on 14 March 2011 legislation that plans for Israel's "non-operational" mined areas to be cleared, while "operational" mined areas will be kept. In a press release on 16 March 2011, the ICBL welcomed this legislation as a first step, but notes that any landmine is a potential threat for civilians, be it in an operational minefield or not. “The landmine hazard in Israel will remain until all mined areas are cleared and the government bans any new use of mines,” ICBL said.

Finland: accession to the MBT “in preparation” 

In a letter on 10 March 2011, the Arms Control Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote to the Final Editor of the Cluster Munition Monitor that “A proposal by the Finnish government on the Accession tot the convention [MBT] is in preparation” and “will be presented for the parliament to ratify during spring 2011”, reiterating that “Finland has pledged to join the Ottawa Mine Ban Convention in 2012 and to destroy its anti-personnel mine stockpiles by the end of 2016.”
Information provided to the Universalization Campaign of the CMC by Mary Wareham on 22 March 2011.

Upcoming events in 2011

June 20-24: Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings in Geneva, Switzerland
November-December: 28/11-02/12: 11th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in Phnom Penh, Cambodia