The Ottawa Treaty, otherwise known as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction came into being on December 3rd, 1997.
The idea of a treaty to ban landmines came from many actors, including the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, like-minded governments and ordinary citizens who felt the suffering endured by landmine victims all over the world needed to end. The Ottawa Treaty was the result of all these players working together towards a common goal: a mine-free world.
Talks to create a treaty banning landmines started in 1992. But it was not until 1997 when 123 countries signed the treaty in Ottawa that a widespread binding commitment was made to end the plague of landmines. At that time, many countries did not agree with a ban or believe that it could be successful since the weapon was widely used in conflicts all around the world. Today, over three-quarters of the world’s countries are party to the Ottawa Treaty making it the fastest growing treaty in history. There are currently 156 counties that are member states of the treaty, and 39 states who have not joined on to the treaty. Since 1997, 38 countries have stopped producing AP landmines. However, in 2007 13 countries still produce or reserve this right to produce AP mines.
On March 1, 1999, Burkina Faso became the 40th country to ratify the Ottawa Treaty, allowing it to become international law. The Ottawa Treaty needed 40 ratifications in order for it to come into effect as international law.
Under the Ottawa Treaty, countries are required to stop producing AP landmines and must destroy all their stockpiles within a four-year period. Countries may ask to keep a small amount of their landmines for the purpose of training their military or others in how to demine or detect mines. It is expected that after ten years of signing the treaty, a country should have cleared and destroyed all landmines within the country. Some countries that are heavily affected by landmines or don’t have the financial capability right away have asked for an extension beyond the ten-year period. Countries that are experiencing financial difficulties may ask for help from the international community to end their landmine problem.
In December 1997, the Canadian government set aside $100 million to establish a five-year Canadian Landmine Fund. The purpose of this fund is to implement the Four Step Solution towards creating a mine-free world. In 2003, the Fund was renewed with $72 million for another five years. The Fund ensures countries accomplish their goals to become mine-free. For more information see: http://www.international.gc.ca/foreign_policy/mines/
To help ensure countries follow through with their commitments to ban and clear landmines and assist victims, the ICBL publishes the Landmine Monitor Report every year. This publication monitors what each country is doing about its landmine problem and reports on their progress towards their clearance deadline. The report gives a detailed account of each country, mine-affected or not, and their effort towards creating a mine-free world. For more information, check out the Landmine Monitor Report website at www.icbl.org/lm.
Posted: August 20, 2008