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Norwegian presidency of the Mine Ban Treaty

On 30 November 2018, Norway took over the presidency of the Mine Ban Treaty from Afghanistan. The presidency will be terminated with the Fourth Review Conference in Oslo on 25-29 November.

The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruct ion (Mine Ban Convention) was adopted in Oslo on 18 September 1997, and signed by more than 100 states in Ottawa on 3 December that year. The Convention entered into force in 1999.

Norway holds the presidency of the Mine Ban Convention in 2019. We look forward to welcoming states parties, observers and civil society to the Fourth Review Conference in Oslo on 25-29 November. The Conference will adopt a new action plan (Oslo Action Plan) to guide implementation of all obligations of the Convention for the next five years. The Convention will also adopt a political declaration to reaffirm the commitment of all states parties to the Convention.

Non-states parties are welcome to participate at the Review Conference as observers. States that are not party to the Mine Ban Convention do not have specific clearance deadlines, but their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect life mean that they are required to survey, mark and clear landmines as soon as possible.

The Mine Ban Convention is perhaps the most successful multilateral disarmament Convention in recent times. Over the past 22 years, 164 states parties have joined, almost 53 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed, and vast areas have been successfully cleared and released to local communities. According to reports, 128 km2 of land has been cleared of landmines during the course of 2017, and more than 168 000 anti-personnel mines destroyed.

A total of 31 countries have completed clearance of all mines on their territory since the Mine Ban Convention entered into force in 1999. More than 95 % of all recorded clearance in 2016 and 2017 was by states parties to the Convention. 32 States Parties are still affected by landmines (as are 22 states not parties to the Mine Ban Convention). In many affected states, landmine contamination is low or modest, and with the right approach and commitment, clearance could be completed within months or a few years.

Mine action is required in many ongoing conflicts to pave the way for relief efforts, reconstruction and the return of refugees and IDPs. Humanitarian mine action can be an important part of peace processes, as a first confidence-building measure between former parties to conflict.

A handful of donors contributed 79 % of all international funding for global mine action in 2017. There is considerable opportunity for other state parties to the Mine Ban Convention to contribute. Mine-affected countries should also make mine action a national priority. Far more experience, technological advances and vastly improved methodologies are available to the mine action sector today than was the case when the Mine Ban Convention was adopted in Oslo in 1997.

Survivors need support

Norway has been supporting mine action for 25 years and is one of the top five donors to global mine action. We are currently funding mine action in 20 countries and areas, [1] in partnership with humanitarian NGOs. Our financial contributions totalled approximately NOK 350 million (USD 40 million) in 2018.

A mine-free world does not mean a world without landmine victims and survivors. Survivors will continue to need access to services, education and employment in their communities. 

The protection dimension of the Mine Ban Convention is fundamental to Norway’s efforts. The objective agreed at the last Review Conference in Maputo in 2014, ‘a mine-free world by 2025’, forms the basis for Norway’s efforts during the presidency to bring new momentum to global mine action.

The Presidency has identified four focus areas which we think require a new, or more direct, engagement by the States Parties to the Mine Ban Convention.

These are:

  • Increased progress in clearance of landmines,
  • Ensuring that the use of landmines of an improvised nature in current conflicts is addressed within the Convention,
  • Strengthening mine risk education and prevention measures for at-risk populations, and
  • Integrating a gender perspective in all aspects of mine action.

In recent years, we have witnessed new and widespread use of improvised landmines and improvised explosive devices. Many of these are produced and used as tools of war and terror by non-state actors. Addressing large-scale contamination by improvised landmines will require coordinated efforts by, and dedicated resources from, the international community.

The use of improvised mines has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of civilian casualties. In 2017, 87 % of recorded casualties, where their status was known, were civilians. In cases where the age was known, children accounted for 47 % of recorded casualties. At least 2 452 children were among the recorded deaths and injuries.

Improvised explosive devices are not a new concept. What is new is the scope and magnitude of the problem. Colombia and Sri Lanka serve as examples of a countries where improvised mines are not a new phenomenon. There are several countries where improvised mines are in fact the main source of landmine contamination.

 [1] Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia Hercegovina, Cambodia, Colombia, DR Congo, Iraq, Kosovo, Laos, Lebanon, Myanmar, Montenegro, Somalia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Syria, Thailand, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Zimbabwe.

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