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The International Campaign to Ban Landmines is a coalition of non-governmental organizations whose goal is to abolish the production and use of anti-personnel mines, a particular type of explosive weapon.

The coalition was formed in 1992 when six groups with similar interests, including Human Rights Watch, medico international, Handicap International, Physicians for Human Rights, Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation and the Mines Advisory Group, agreed to cooperate on their common goal. The campaign has since grown and spread to become a network of over 1,400 groups – including groups working on women, children, veterans, religious groups, the environment, human rights, arms control, peace and development -- in over 90 countries, working locally, nationally and internationally to eradicate antipersonnel landmines. A prominent supporter was Diana, Princess of Wales.

The organization and its chief spokesperson, Jody Williams, jointly received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts.

The campaign's greatest success occurred in 1999 when the Ottawa Treaty, which bans the production and use of anti-personnel mines, came into force. Some states, including the United Statesmarker, Russiamarker and Chinamarker, have thus far refused to sign. In 2004, the first review conference of the Ottawa Treaty, The Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World was held in Nairobi, Kenya. The Summit produced the Nairobi Action Plan for 2005-2009, a set of 70 action points that member states committed to undertake in the five year period following the Summit.

The ICBL and its flexible network of organizations remain committed to an international ban on the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of antipersonnel landmines, and for increased international resources for humanitarian mine clearance and mine victim assistance programs. The ICBL monitors the mine situation in the world (through a network of researchers producing the annual Landmine Monitor Report), and conducts advocacy activities, lobbying for implementation and universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty, humanitarian mine action programs geared toward the needs of mine-affected communities, support for landmine survivors, their families and their communities, and a stop to the production, use and transfer of landmines, including by non-State armed groups. The ICBL participates in the periodical meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty process, urges States not Parties to the Treaty to join and non-State armed groups to respect the mine ban norm, condemns mine use and promotes public awareness and debate on the mine issue, organizing events and generating media attention.

Organizational structure

The ICBL has a four member Management Committee, an Advisory Board composed of 21 member organizations, and five ambassadors who serve as campaign representatives at speaking events and other conferences worldwide. They include Jody Williams, Tun Channareth, Cambodian landmine survivor and founder of the Cambodian Campaign to Ban Landmines and fellow landmine victim, Song Kosal, the youth Ambassador for the ICBL. In addition, the ICBL has recently appointed two new ambassadors, Elisabeth Bernstein, and Margaret Arech Orech, a Ugandan landmine survivor and well known advocate in the fight to ban landmines. Currently, the ICBL has four staff members based in Geneva (the central office), Paris, and Rome. Additionally, the ICBL has several interns each year.

Mine Ban Treaty

The Mine Ban Treaty, or the Ottawa Treaty, is the international agreement that bans antipersonnel landmines. Officially entitled The Convention on the Prohibition, Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Antipersonnel Mines and on Their Destruction, the treaty is sometimes referred to as the Ottawa Convention.

In December 1997, 122 governments signed the treaty in Ottawamarker, Canadamarker. It entered into force and became binding under international law in March 1999, doing so quicker than any other previous treaty of its kind.

The treaty commits member states to “put an end to the suffering and casualties caused by antipersonnel landmines” by addressing current landmine problems and preventing future landmine problems. The general obligations that State Parties agree to are as follows:

  • never use antipersonnel mines, nor to “develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer” them;
  • destroy mines in their stockpiles within four years of the treaty becoming binding;
  • clear mines in their territory within 10 years;
  • in mine-affected countries, conduct mine awareness and ensure that mine victims are cared for, rehabilitated and reintegrated into their communities;
  • offer assistance to other States Parties for example in providing for survivors or in clearance programs;
  • adopt implementation measures (such as national legislation) in order to ensure that the terms of the treaty are upheld in their territory.

The Treaty is still open for ratification by signatories and for accession by those who did not sign before March 1999. As of 10 May 2009, there were 156 States Parties to the Ottawa Treaty. Two countries that have signed but have not ratified the treaty are the (Marshall Islandsmarker and Polandmarker). Taiwanmarker (Republic of Chinamarker) has also agreed to implement the Ottawa Treaty, but are not allowed to sign the treaty due to its lack of UN membership as a result of political pressure from Chinamarker (People's Republic of Chinamarker). There are 37 countries which have not signed but are still able to accede to the Treaty.

Basic Landmine Facts

In 2005 the Landmine Monitor identified at least 84 countries and eight areas contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO); 54 of the affected countries are States Parties to the Ottawa Treaty.

As of 2005, more than 200,000 square kilometers are suspected to be contaminated by landmines and UXO. Since May 2004 three governments have been confirmed to use antipersonnel landmines: Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, and Russia. Nepal has since stopped by mid-2006.

The use of antipersonnel mines and mine-like improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs) have been reported in six States Parties to the Ottawa Treaty (Burundi, Colombia, Iraq, Philippines, Turkey and Uganda) and in seven non-States Parties (Myanmar, Georgia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Somalia and Russia).

There are 13 countries that continue to produce antipersonnel landmines: Myanmar, China, Cuba, India, Iran, North Korea, South Korea, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam. Since the mid-1990s there has been a de facto ban on the transfer or export of antipersonnel mines. There have been no documented state-to-state transfers since then. It is believed that the trade of antipersonnel mines has dwindled to a very low level of illicit trafficking and unacknowledged trade.

Prior to the Ottawa Treaty, 131 states possessed stockpiles, estimated at over 260 million antipersonnel mines. The Landmine Monitor now estimates that 54 countries have stockpiles, totaling 180 million antipersonnel mines.

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