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4th April: International Mine Awareness Day

Press release | London, 3rd April 2020, 12:00 GMT

Smart Mines & Trump:  Greenlighting barbaric weapons puts civilians in grave danger

On January 31, the Trump Administration announced a deadly landmine policy shift, effectively committing the U.S. to resume the use and stockpiling of antipersonnel landmines with the authorisation to use ‘smart’ landmines. Humanity & Inclusion, co-founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), and co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, condemn a major setback in the fight against these barbaric weapons. As we observe the International Mine Awareness Day on April 4, Humanity & Inclusion calls the U.S. to reverse this decision that threatens the resounding success of the Ottawa Convention which prohibits landmines and has reduced by 3 the number of victims in 20 years.

"It is unimaginable that after more than 20 years of fighting and successes against these infamous weapons, The U.S. are launching the use of smart mine! We refuse to go back to the scenario of the 90s, when we counted more than 20,000 victims a year," said Emmanuel Sauvage, Head of the Armed Violence Reduction Division at Humanity & Inclusion. "In addition to being irresponsible and giving a negative signal to countries that haven’t joined the Convention, the policy of the United States is absurd."
The new policy goes against decades of non-use. How can the new policy state that landmines are "a vital tool in conventional warfare” when the U.S. military hasn’t chosen to use them in decades?
 

"There are no such things as ‘smart’ mines!"

Presented by the Trump administration as "an important tool," the Pentagon policy states that the “advanced, non-persistent landmine” that is currently under development, would deactivate after a period of time, and would be “designed to reduce unintended harm to civilians and partner forces”.

"This is absolute nonsense", "There are no such things as ‘smart’ landmines! Mines that self-destruct remotely have, like any electronic device, the potential to fail and may not function or may malfunction, leaving behind dangerous explosives. Even fragments of improperly destroyed landmines can be dangerous!"

says Humanity & Inclusion mines and explosive weapons expert Gary Toombs.

 

The resounding victory of the Ottawa Convention

In 1997, the Ottawa Convention prohibiting the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines marked a turning point in the fight against landmines. In 20 years of application, the Convention has proved effective: There are 164 States parties to the Convention, making the ban on landmines a universal norm of international humanitarian law. The U.S. is one of the few countries that has yet to join the 1997 Mine Ban Convention , sharing ranks with China, Egypt, India, Israel, Pakistan, and Russia. In twenty years, the use of landmines has almost been eradicated.

The Ottawa Convention has almost completely dried up the trade of this weapon: In 1999, 50 states were still producing landmines and 160 million landmines were stockpiled. Today only 11 states still produce these weapons and stockpiles are less than 50 million landmines.

There is no information on the production of this weapon by any arms companies; commercialisation seems to have been abandoned. Remaining stockpiles continue to be destroyed: stockpiles were estimated at 160 million landmines in 1999, against less than 50 million in 2018. The use of antipersonnel mines is almost eradicated.

More than 120,000 casualties have been recorded in the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor database in the period 1999–2018, with the annual number of recorded victims divided by 3 in 15 years. The global trend has indeed been positive showing the resounding success of the Ottawa Convention. Nonetheless, 2018 was the fourth year in a row with exceptionally high numbers of recorded casualties due to landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) - including improvised types that act as antipersonnel mines, cluster munition remnants, and other ERW.

Globally at least 60 million people live in contaminated areas. These data show that we cannot enjoy the luxury to take the Ottawa Convention for granted. It needs continuous strengthening instead of being cowardly attacked by some states.

For the first time in seven years, funding dedicated to victim assistance as part of the global mine action budget increased in 2018. Humanity & Inclusion calls on the donor community to turn this positive change into a trend. States Parties in a position to provide assistance should continue keeping people at the centre of their action supporting better access to vital services for people injured, survivors, affected families and communities in humanitarian crisis, situations of protracted conflict, and in development contexts.


Notes

The Ottawa Convention bans the acquisition, production, stockpiling and use of anti-personnel mines. The Convention was opened for signing on 3 December 1997. It entered into force on 1 March 1999. A total of 164 States are party to the Convention and one State (the Marshall Islands) has signed but not ratified the Convention.

Press contact

Marlene Manning, Humanity & Inclusion UK
Email: media.uk@hi.org

About Humanity & Inclusion

Co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Humanity & Inclusion (HI) is a charity working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster. We work tirelessly alongside disabled and vulnerable people to help meet their basic needs, improve their living conditions and promote respect for their dignity and fundamental rights. 

For the past 30 years, Humanity & Inclusion has been campaigning against anti-personnel mines and cluster bombs, with projects ranging from bomb clearance, risk education to teach civilians about the dangers of these weapons and victim assistance. This led to the signing of the Ottawa mine ban convention (1997) and the Oslo convention on cluster munitions (2008). Humanity & Inclusion is one of six founding organisations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and co-founder of the Cluster Munition Coalition.

Contact our
UK Press Team


Marlene Manning, Media Officer
Email: media.uk@hi.org
Tel.: +44 (0)870 774 3737