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Why is there a need for a Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor?

Explosive weapons

Anne Héry, Director of Advocacy at Handicap International, explains what is contained in the reports published each year in September and November by the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor.

Anne Héry, Director of Advocacy at Handicap International.

Anne Héry, Director of Advocacy at Handicap International. | © G.Lordet / Handicap International

What exactly is the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor?

The Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor is a group of NGOs co-founded by Handicap International in 1998, and co-directed by the organisation ever since. It publishes two annual reports, one on cluster munitions in September and the other on anti-personnel landmines in November, along with a number of factsheets. These reports assess whether ban treaties such as the Oslo Convention on cluster munitions and the Ottawa Treaty on anti-personnel landmines are being properly applied. An editorial team of a dozen or so people starts preparing the reports in March, with help from about forty researchers worldwide.

What exactly is the Landmine Monitor report, due to be published this year on 1st December[1], based on? 

It is an annual overview of the application of the Ottawa Treaty: have State Parties met their obligations? Have they conducted or supported mine clearance operations? Have they implemented victim assistance policies? If they have stockpiles of landmines, have they destroyed them? What is the position of non-state Parties regarding the Treaty? Which countries continue to produce and sell these weapons? The Monitor also reports on new uses and victims of landmines every year in conflict zones.

Does this mean signatories to the Treaty have to fulfil certain obligations?

Yes it does. When a State signs the Treaty, it is bound by a number of obligations including an undertaking to stop the manufacture, use or sale of landmines. It also agrees to destroy stockpiles, provide victim assistance, support the clearance of contaminated areas etc. The Monitor outlines policies and initiatives implemented in each signatory country to ensure the correct application of the Treaty.

What is the purpose of this type of report?

It plays a vital role in monitoring the Treaty’s application. In fact, it has become a benchmark, even for States! It is useful to establish a dialogue with individual States, encourage them to join the Convention or apply it more effectively on a particular issue. The Monitor also makes public the violence and problems caused by landmines, based on compiled and verified facts. It helps us apply political pressure. This year, for example, it documents the extensive use of homemade landmines (improvised explosive devices) by non-state groups in countries such as Syria, Yemen and Iraq. It also reports a significant reduction in the funding of anti-landmine campaigns, along with a slowdown of clearance operations worldwide, which rings alarm bells for us NGOs.

What are the main lessons to learn from the 2016 Monitor?

2015 was characterised by a dramatic increase in the number of casualties, caused by intensive use of landmines in ongoing conflicts such as in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine. The use of homemade landmines by non-state armed groups is also a rapidly increasing phenomenon and represents a challenge for States Parties to the Ottawa Treaty and its supporters. How can we encourage non-state groups to comply with the rules of the Treaty, to which only States can be signatories? This is a real challenge. But it is not impossible, since non-state armed groups have previously pledged to abandon the use of mines…

 

What is Handicap International doing to help eliminate landmines?

We run mine clearance programmes and provide risk education on the presence of explosive remnants of war in numerous countries. Handicap International is also a member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, the NGO coalition that publishes the Monitor. We have a team of political lobbyists who talk to States and international bodies, such as the United Nations, in order to advance international humanitarian law. We also run awareness campaigns targeted at the public, which in turn encourages people to put pressure on States. When a petition has been signed by hundreds of thousands of people, it is taken very seriously by governments.

 

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A frightening increase in the number of victims of explosive weapons
(c) E. Fourt/HI

A frightening increase in the number of victims of explosive weapons

On the occasion of the International Day for Mine Awareness, HI is alarmed by the frightening increase in the number of civilian victims of explosive weapons : 32,008 civilians were killed or injured by explosive weapons in 2016 (out of a total of 45,624 victims), according to Action on Armed Violence (AOAV). The toll looks even heavier for 2017, as civilians account for 90% of the victims of explosive weapons when they are used in populated areas. Landmine Monitor has recorded a dramatic increase in casualties of mine and explosive remnants over the past three years. Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine and Yemen are among the main countries affected.

7th anniversary of the Syrian conflict: After the death of partner organisation’s employee, HI condemns continuous bombings
© AFP PHOTO / AMER ALMOHIBANY

7th anniversary of the Syrian conflict: After the death of partner organisation’s employee, HI condemns continuous bombings

A staff member from a Syrian organisation that Humanity and Inclusion (HI) partners with was killed yesterday. Mustafa, his wife and their two children – both under the age of 8 years old – were killed by shelling in Hamouriyeh, Eastern Ghouta. As today marks the 7th anniversary of the Syrian conflict, HI condemns once again bombing and shelling of populated areas and calls on all parties to the conflict to protect civilians.

Completion of demining operations
©B.Blondel/HI

Completion of demining operations

HI has completed its demining operations in the Tshopo, Ituri, Bas-Uele and Haut-Uele provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), launched in January 2016. Over a two-year period, HI and its local partner, AFRILAM (Africa for Anti-Mine Action) cleared 34,520 m2 of land of mines, the equivalent of 5 football pitches, benefiting the 5,600 inhabitants in the region.