Review Conference concluded
The Third Review Conference of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty concluded Friday in Maputo, Mozambique. From 23-27 June 2014, 79 countries came together to assess progress made over the last 15 years to implement the treaty’s comprehensive ban on the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of antipersonnel mines and obligations to clear mine contaminated land and provide assistance to landmine victims.
The conference concluded with the adoption of the Mozambique Action Plan outlining concrete steps forward to reach the treaty’s objectives and a political declaration signed by all States Parties affirming their commitment to complete the convention’s obligations by 2025.
The Third Review Conference returned to Mozambique, which was also host to the First Meeting of States Parties of the treaty in 1999. This symbolic reaffirmation of commitment to the treaty is underscored by concrete evidence of the treaty’s impact as Mozambique has gone from one of the most heavily landmine contaminated countries to being close to declaring itself mine free.
The conference provided States Parties with an opportunity to reflect on the remarkable progress made in implementing the convention thus far, which includes attaining the membership of 161 States Parties, the destruction of 47 million stockpiled antipersonnel mines, the completion of clearance of 26 countries, and a 60% reduction in the number of annual victims of antipersonnel mines.
However significant work remains to achieve the convention’s objections, along with concerns over its implementation. While 80% of the world’s nations have joined the convention, a testament to the widespread adoption of the norm against landmines established by the treaty, universalization remains an outstanding challenge. The announcement by Oman during the conference that it is poised to accede to the convention was thus highly welcomed. Engagement from non-States Parties was also positive in Maputo, especially from the US, which delivered a statement indicating that its policy review on joining the treaty is back on track. The US stated it will not produce or acquire antipersonnel mines and is currently pursuing solutions which will allow it to be compliant with the treaty and to accede to it in the future.
While new use and transfer of mines has become virtually non-existent since the entry into force of the treaty, recent reports of use of antipersonnel mines by one State Party and other non-States Parties and non-state armed groups are of primary concern. Progress in other areas such as clearance of mine contaminated land has been mixed. While over 1.41 million mines have been pulled from the ground and hundreds of square kilometers cleared each year, the number of countries which have not met their treaty mandated deadlines to complete clearance and applied for extensions is unnecessarily high. The provision of assistance to victims has increased dramatically as a result of the convention; however more effort is needed to ensure the full realization of the rights of survivors in many countries.
As the convention moves into its next phase of implementation, it is imperative that greater efforts are taken at the local and national levels to rid the world of mine contamination. The Third Review Conference sent a clear message that international political support for the treaty is resoundingly high as state after state reaffirmed their commitment to the treaty’s core principles during the week, but also that these affirmations must now be translated into concrete action on the ground. The meeting concluded optimistically, as governments overwhelmingly emphasized the strength of the partnership between states and civil society underpinning the treaty as a means of achieving its aims.
During the week, NPA launched its new publication “Clearing the Mines,” a report written for the Third Review Conference by the Landmine Monitor Mine Action Team. The report provides a critical assessment of the progress made and challenges remaining for the implementation of Article 5 clearance obligations.