Geneva 23 November 2023 – The Twenty-First Meeting of the States Parties (21MSP) to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines, under the chairmanship of the German Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament H.E. Thomas Gobel, has concluded at the United Nations in Geneva after five days of work.
Germany is among the world's top three mine action donors, providing nearly USD 79 million in 2022 (according to the Mine Monitor).
Over 500 delegates attended – 36% of which were women, representing 104 states (91 Parties, 13 not party) and more than 30 international and non-governmental organisations or structures.
As the German presidency concluded, Ambassador Gobel said Germany would maintain its commitment to the treaty and mine action more broadly. “We’ll promote accession of those states not yet party to the Ottawa Convention. Only by renouncing the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of anti-personnel mines can we achieve a mine-free world […] Germany thanks all high-contracting parties engaged in these efforts.”
Germany regretted the decision by the Russian Federation to vote against the implementation of the Convention during the First Committee of the UN General Assembly – a first vote of this kind – saying that by doing so, the Russian Federation voted against a mine-free world.
As part of the Convention President’s mandate, Germany addressed Convention compliance matters such as low reporting rates, delayed destruction of stockpiled anti-personnel mines by two States Parties, large number of countries without the necessary national legislation to sanction prohibited acts, and a recent allegation of use of this weapon by a State Party.
The Chair recognised the transparency efforts made by Ukraine, Sudan, and Yemen for their commitment to investigate any possible break in compliance – the latter two for incidents occurring over a decade ago and with no new allegations against either State since then.
All three reiterated their commitment to the Convention’s principles and pledged to carry out investigations, once the security situation in the regions under their jurisdiction or control where the alleged violations occur, permits. As for Ukraine, the delegation expressed that “Ukraine has not found any evidence of violation to the Convention. However, we take the allegations of any use under our jurisdiction or control, seriously”.
Greece and Ukraine which have outstanding stockpile destruction obligations continue in non-compliance having missed their destruction deadlines.
Greece has now transferred “over 8,400 mines to Croatia for safe destruction”. Nearly 300,000 mines remain to be destroyed by Greece.
Ukraine which still has a couple of million “PFM-1” mines to destroy – which are extremely hazardous and pose serious technical difficulties – says the revision of the unknown number of stocks currently under its control has been delayed due to airstrikes in the region and that it aims to provide an inventory once the security allows it.
Ukraine which did not face contamination prior to 2014, is now dealing with an unprecedented situation and unknown level of mine pollution – the States Parties recognised the extenuating circumstances and have agreed to give Ukraine until 1 December 2033 to address all mine contamination and providing annual dates of the national situation.
Eritrea which was in a state of non-compliance due to its failure to submit a request to extend its mine clearance deadline and absence from formal meetings, was warmly welcomed back by the States Parties. Eritrea re-committed to the implementation of the Convention and ensured its high-level presence throughout the 21MSP. Additionally, Eritrea agreed to present a detailed extension request to be considered by the Fifth Review Conference in November 2024.
While new efforts have been made to universalize the Convention, no new states have adhered since 2017; some of these not party might have millions of mines in their possession.
The Meeting noted with regret that Myanmar and the Russian Federation had made use of anti-personnel mines. In October 2023, the latter, voted against the Resolution on implementation of the Convention during the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, making this a first vote of this kind.
Other salient news during the week
- Cambodia one of the cradles of the landmine movement was elected to preside over the very important Review Conference aptly named, the Siem Reap-Angkor Summit on a Mine-Free World under the leadership of Senior Minister and First Vice-President of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA). The Summit will take place from 25-29 November 2024 in Cambodia.
- Colombia and Serbia announced that due to various challenges including the lack of resources, they will need to request additional time to meet their mine clearance deadlines.
- Ecuador and Peru continue their joint work to clear their common border and seek external support so that they can finish within deadline.
- Ghana announced it will host a regional stakeholder on improvised anti-personnel mines which are wreaking havoc in certain countries in West Africa and Sahel regions.
- Japan was elected to preside over the Convention in 2025 (the Twenty-Second Meeting of the States Parties), represented by the Japanese Ambassador-Designate to the Conference on Disarmament H.E. Tomiko ICHIKAWA. Japan says it is committed to promoting the Convention – their support is of great importance. Given the fact that the 14 of the 33 countries that are not party belong to Asia-Pacific region, universalization in Asia Pacific region is one of the key challenges of the Convention. This is only the fourth Asian country to lead the work of the States Parties (after Afghanistan, Cambodia (which will have done it twice), and Thailand). The Ambassador will be only the seventh woman to preside over the work of the States Parties in what will then be the 26 years of the work of the Convention.
- Somalia, Tajikistan, and Türkiye rallied the international community to support their clearance programmes which are making progress but will require additional support.
- Yemen announced it will seek to host a dialogue with international and national stakeholders to highlight the great needs of its mine action programme.
- Zambia was elected to preside over the Convention in 2026 (the Twenty-Third Meeting of the States Parties), represented by H.E. Eunice M. Tembo LUAMBIA. This is only the third African country to lead the work of the States Parties (after Algeria and Mozambique – which has lead it twice). The Ambassador will be only the eighth woman to preside over the treaty in what will then be the 27 years of the work of the Convention.
- Zimbabwe says it is on track to finalise its clearance operations after more than 40 years work – however, they will require further support if they are to meet their deadline.
States not party
- Israel which after a 16-year hiatus re-started participating as an Observer in 2020, took the floor for the very first time in a Convention meeting to explain its reasons for not joining. It offered that it maintains a moratorium on exports, sales, or transfers of anti-personnel mines.
- Lebanon says it continues to clear all known mine contamination to facilitate the movement of internally displaced persons. Says it remains committed to working in the spirit of the Convention.
- South Korea says it has begun “mine clearance efforts where possible” and maintains an indefinite moratorium on production.
New committee memberships and other related news
- Germany and Peru will join Norway and South Africa in the Committee on Cooperative Compliance to be chaired by Cambodia
- Thailand and the United Kingdom will join Colombia (Chair) and Sweden in the Committee on Article 5 Implementation
- Burkina Faso and the Netherlands will join Slovenia (Chair) and Zambia in the Committee on Victim Assistance
- Denmark and Türkiye will join Algeria (Chair) and Japan in the Committee on the Enhancement of Cooperation and Assistance
- Belgium will serve as co-chair of universalization efforts – a significant job that seeks to promote the convention among states not party. HRH Astrid Princess of Belgium is one of two Special Envoys of the Convention.