December of 1997, 121 nations gathered together to sign the Convention on
the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel
Mines and on Their Destruction in Ottawa, Canada. Better known as
the Mine Ban Treaty, this agreement involved the efforts of countries,
nongovernmental groups and individuals from around the world concerned
about the impact of antipersonnel landmines. "Anti-landmine activists
worked for six years to not only attract the interest of the public,
celebrities, and nongovernmental organizations but also to forge a
partnership with governments officials worldwide" (McDonald 21).
The Ottawa Convention “is the most comprehensive international instrument for
ridding the world of the scourge of antipersonnel mines. It deals with
everything from mine use, production and trade, to victim assistance, mine
clearance and stockpile destruction” (ICBL.org Treaty).
It became binding under international law in March of 1999. The
treaty is still open for ratification by signatories and for accession by
those who did not sign before March 1999.
As of February 2007, there are 153
member states of the treaty and two other signatory countries which have not ratified the treaty.
and the United States
are several of the forty states that have not signed the treaty as of yet
The United States has not signed the treaty
because of the mined border between North and South Korea.
Additionally, the Bush Administration announced that the United States
would not join the Mine Ban Treaty "because its terms would have
required us to give up a
needed military capability" (LM Report 2007). The argument for
many non-signatories is that landmines are needed weapons for their
military forces and would compromise their military power. Although
the United States rejected the ICBL, "it expressed commitment to
working within the constraints of the CCW," which includes measures
to regulate the use of landmines. "Other major and middle
powers including China, Russia, Pakistan, and Iraq followed the American
lead" but the ICBL still had great support and strength from NGOs,
middle powers, the public and celebrities (Matthew 8).
As previously stated, the Ottawa Process began
with the "Axworthy Challenge." "The treaty itself was based upon a ban
treaty drafted by
and developed in a series of meetings in
, in Bruseels, which culminated in the three-week long treaty negotiating
conference held in
in September" (Logue 122). Following the challenge by the
Canadian government, the ICBL mobilized around the world to gather
support, educate the public and apply pressure on governments.
"The public space was flooded with statistics and images of mine
victims; celebrities such as Princess Diana and Queen Noor lent their
support to the campaign" and in October, the ICBL was awarded
the Nobel Peace Prize (Matthew 8).
The Mine Ban Treaty was considered "a
historic victory for the weak and vulnerable of our world" according
to Kofi Annan (McDonald 21). A partnership between NGOs and middle
power states such as Canada and Norway "enabled anti-landmine
activists to move an issue that had been marginalized in global arms
control negotiations to the front of the international political agenda
and to develop
an international agreement to outlaw landmines even without the backing of
major world powers" (Matthews 21). The Ottawa Convention is significant
and historic in that it was the first time smaller powers had come
together to work in close cooperation with NGOs. It was also the
first time that these smaller states were not forced to yield to the power
or pressure of superpowers to weaken the treaty to appease them. In
fact, negotiations ended with a treaty stronger
than the draft on which negotiations were based (Logue 122).
The Mine Ban Treaty includes twelve addressing
the issues of mine use, production and trade, victim assistance, mine
clearance and stockpile destruction. Article 1 outlines
prohibitions and "contains the general obligations that clearly and
comprehensively ban antipersonnel mines" (ICBL.org) The second
article, provides definitions within the treaty and provides for
modifications of these definitions. It seeks to identify what is
included under antipersonnel landmine. The third and fourth articles
refer to stockpiles and their destruction. Signatories of the treaty
have four years to destroy their landmines stockpiles and are allowed to
retain a certain amount of landmines for educational and training
purposes. Article 5 is referred to as "Mine Action" or
landmine clearance. States are required to remove all their landmines
within ten years of ratifying the treaty. The remaining articles
deal with reporting on progress, compliance, national legislation, and
information regarding treaty related meetings (ICBL.org).
Progress following the treaty has most certainly
been made. "Production of antipersonnel mines has dropped
considerably and trade has almost come to a halt" (ICBL.org).
Additionally, widespread stockpile destruction has occurred and vast
tracks of land have been cleared. The most obvious impact is the
drop in the number of annual
landmine victims. In 2006, 5,571 people were injured or killed by
landmines, a dramatic improvement from 26,000.
An example of recent success of the treaty is
that, "on 31 March, the Republic of Sudan finished destroying its
antipersonnel mine stockpile, just ahead of its 1 April 2008 deadline
under Article 4 of the Mine Ban Treaty" (ICBL.org). Eighty
States Parties had destroyed their landmine stockpiles before the Landmine
Monitor Report of 2007 was published.
In 1997, Jody Williams, the recipient of
the Nobel Prize on behalf of the ICBL acknowledged that "it is not a perfect treaty- the Campaign has
concerns about the provision allowing for anti-handling devices on
anti-vehicle mines; we are concerned about mines kept for training
purposes; we would like to see the treaty directly apply to non-state
actors and we would like stronger language regarding victim
assistance" (Logue 122). Today, these are some of the problems
with the treaty and there are others still. Landmines are still used
in conflicts and by non-state actors. Many countries still possess
large stockpiles of mines and have millions of mine in the
Afghanistan missed its deadline of March 2007 for
stockpile destruction and is unlikely to meet its target for landmine
clearance in 2013 at the current rate. In 2009, the first deadline
for landmine clearance, is unlikely to be met by fifteen countries, twelve
may meet it, and only five countries have already finished
clearance. "Four States Parties with 2009 deadlines, France,
Niger, the United Kingdom and Venezuela, have failed to initiate formal
clearance operations, which may be considered a failure to respect the
treaty’s requirement to clear mined areas 'as soon as possible'"
(LM Report 2007). France for example, has territory in Djibouti and
"in the eight years that France has been a State Party, not one mine
has been cleared from La Doudah" (LM Report 2007).