Geneva, New York – The President of the Convention that bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines which has been adopted and is observed by over 80% of the world’s countries, is calling for an immediate cease of the use of these weapons in Ukraine, State which signed this Treaty in 1999.
President of the Convention that bans landmines calls for immediate cease of use of this insidious weapon in Ukraine
“The use of anti-personnel mines violates key principles of international humanitarian law and further exacerbates the heavy toll being brought upon the civilian population of Ukraine. They impede access to humanitarian corridors, and prevent delivery of essential humanitarian emergency aid,” said the Ambassador of Colombia to the UN in Geneva, H.E. Alicia Arango Olmos who presides over the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, also known as the Ottawa Convention or Mine Ban Treaty.
The condemnation follows a report published by Human Rights Watch pointing to the use of a fairly new type of air-deployed anti-personnel mine in Ukraine, and other reports surfacing on traditional and social media, indicating that anti-personnel mines, both, factory made and of an improvised nature are being used in Ukraine. The comments were made during a press briefing at the United Nations.
“We cannot turn a blind eye to this situation; it should be clear that the use of landmines by any party in conflict is prohibited under international humanitarian law. All of Ukraine’s neighbors, except for Russia are part of the Convention. The absolute majority of States that have not yet joined have refrained from using such insidious weapons. It is hence undeniable the detrimental, aggravating scourge that these mines represent.”
Ukraine first experienced landmine contamination as a result of the conflict that began in 2014. As State Party to the Convention, Ukraine undertook to fulfill obligations including clearing contaminated areas under its jurisdiction or control, providing education on the risk of mines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW), and assisting mine victims. According to data from the 2021 Landmine Monitor as provided by Ukraine, there were over 2,700 mine and other ERW casualties between 2014 and 2019, bringing the total number of casualties to more than 4,700. The current conflict may only increase those figures, which already are some of the highest in Europe.
“Starting on 4 April, the international community will commemorate a week for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. Let’s take this opportunity to highlight the effect of anti-personnel mines on civilian populations in Ukraine and in protracted conflicts like Afghanistan, Colombia, and Iraq… or places like Angola, Cambodia, Chad, or Zimbabwe, where mines lay dormant decades after conflict have ceased, killing and maiming civilians including children. We must stand firm in the Convention’s legally binding premise to ‘never, under any circumstance, use anti-personnel mines, develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, anti-personnel mines’”, concluded the Ambassador.
Editorial note: The Convention was adopted and signed 25 years ago and entered into force in 1999. It is the prime humanitarian and disarmament treaty aimed at ending the suffering caused by landmines by prohibiting their use, stockpiling, production, and transfer, ensuring their destruction, and assisting the victims. Together the States Parties have destroyed nearly 54 million mines. Demining has resulted in millions of square metres of land that were once dangerous to be released for normal human activity.