Landmine Ban 25 Years On: Humanitarian Success Marred by New Use in Ukraine and Myanmar, High Casualty Numbers

November 17th, 2022  •  Author:   Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor  •  4 minute read
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Geneva, 17 November 2022 Twentyfive years after its creation, the Mine Ban Treaty remains one of the most widely ratified disarmament treaties, but high numbers of civilian casualties and new mine use in Ukraine and Myanmar show the challenges that must be overcome to achieve a minefree world, according to the Landmine Monitor 2022 report.

Landmines continue to kill and injure civilians, destroy livelihoods, deny land use, and disrupt access to essential services in more than 60 countries and territories. Cascading global crises, such as the COVID19 pandemic and its aftermath, and armed conflicts, combined with a reduction in humanitarian aid budgets, are further exacerbating obstacles in living up to the treaty’s promises.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) launches today its flagship annual report, Landmine Monitor 2022, ahead of the Mine Ban Treaty Twentieth Meeting of States Parties, taking place from 21 to 25 November at the United Nations in Geneva

A quartercentury ago, the ban on landmines put human security front and center and has since empowered affected communities to regain full and productive lives,” said Marion Loddo, Monitor Editorial Manager and final editor of Landmine Monitor 2022. But the outlook right now is challenging, as we continue to observe new mine victims, new use of the weapon, delays in mine clearance, and shrinking mine action budgets. What we need now is immediate and coordinated government action.

Casualties from mines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) have been disturbingly high for the past seven years, following a dramatic decline immediately after the treaty came into force. At least 5,544 people were injured or killed in 2021. Civilians represented most of the victims recorded, half of whom were children.

The majority of casualties occurred in conflictaffected countries contaminated with mines of an improvised nature. In the previous year, landmines and ERW claimed lives and limbs in 50 states and other areas. Nonsignatory Syria recorded the highest number of annual casualties (1,227), closely followed by State Party Afghanistan (1,074).

New use of the weapon represents one of the greatest challenges to the norm against antipersonnel landmines. The report documents new use by two states not party, Myanmar and Russia, as well as by nonstate armed groups (NSAGs) in at least five countries.

Any use of antipersonnel mines by any actor under any circumstances is appalling and must be strongly condemned, said Mary Wareham, a Ban Policy editor of Landmine Monitor 2022 and Human Rights Watch Arms Advocacy Director.

Landmine Monitor 2022 identifies a fivefold increase in the number of civilian mine/ERW casualties recorded in Ukraine during the first nine months of 2022 compared to 2021 (277 civilian casualties compared to 58). Russia has used at least seven types of antipersonnel mines since it invaded the country on 24 February. This is an unprecedented situation, in which a country that is not party to the treaty is using the weapon on the territory of a State Party.

The report also documents new and extensive use of the indiscriminate weapon by government forces in Myanmar, in particular around infrastructure such as mobile phone towers, extractive enterprises, and pipelines.

Against this backdrop, States Parties continued progress in returning previously mined areas to safe use, reporting about 132km2 of land cleared of mines. As in recent years, the largest clearance of mined areas in 2021 was achieved by Cambodia and Croatia, which together accounted for 60% of recorded clearance.

While 30 States Parties have completed their clearance obligations since the Mine Ban Treaty came into force in 1999, only two of the 33 remaining affected States Parties appear to be on track to meet their treatymandated clearance deadlines. Systematic delays in clearance, or lack of it, represent a grave threat to the durable protection of civilians from landmines. Collective action from states is required to turn this trend around and prevent a further deterioration of the situation, the report finds.

Another concerning setback is the evershrinking funding allocated to victim assistance. According to the report, the year 2021 saw the lowest level of funding to the sector since 2016, despite growing needs and high casualty rates in recent years. The treaty has set a valuable model for remediating harm caused by landmines, but much remains to be done to guarantee adequate support to survivors and affected communities throughout their lives.

The life of a survivor does not only lie in the survival of the tragedy but rather in their abilities to find ways to bridge the gaps in addressing the physical, mental, and emotional challenges, said Alex Munyambabazi, victim assistance and disability rights expert, featured on Landmine Monitor 2022 cover. “This can be achieved through the provision of holistic rehabilitation and sustained commitment from donors.”


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