Landmines and Explosive Remnants of War
Peace agreements may be signed and hostilities may cease, but landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) are an enduring legacy of conflict.
Antipersonnel mines are munitions designed to explode from the presence, proximity, or contact of a person. This includes improvised landmines, also known as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), with those same victim-activated characteristics. Antivehicle mines are munitions designed to explode from the presence, proximity, or contact of a vehicle as opposed to a person. Landmines are victim-activated and indiscriminate; whoever triggers the mine, whether a child or a soldier, becomes its victim.
Mines emplaced during a conflict against enemy forces can still kill or injure civilians decades later.
ERW refer to ordnance left behind after a conflict. Explosive weapons that for some reason fail to detonate as intended become unexploded ordnance (UXO). These unstable explosive items are left behind during and after conflicts and pose dangers similar to landmines. Abandoned explosive ordnance (AXO) are explosive weapons that have not been used during armed conflict but have been left behind and are no longer effectively controlled. ERW can include artillery shells, grenades, mortars, rockets, air-dropped bombs, and cluster munition remnants. Under the international legal definition, ERW consist of UXO and AXO, but not mines.
Both landmines and ERW pose a serious and ongoing threat to civilians. These weapons can be found on roads, footpaths, farmers’ fields, forests, deserts, along borders, in and surrounding houses and schools, and in other places where people are carrying out their daily activities. They deny access to food, water, and other basic needs, and inhibit freedom of movement. They endanger the initial flight and prevent the repatriation of refugees and internally displaced persons, and hamper the delivery of humanitarian aid.
These weapons instill fear in communities, whose citizens often know they are walking in mined areas, but have no possibility to farm other land, or take another route to school. When land cannot be cultivated, when medical systems are drained by the cost of attending to landmine/ERW casualties, and when countries must spend money clearing mines rather than paying for education, it is clear that these weapons not only cause appalling human suffering, but that they are also a lethal barrier to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and post-conflict reconstruction.
There are solutions to the global landmine and ERW problem. The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty (officially the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction) provides the best framework for governments to alleviate the suffering of civilians living in areas affected by antipersonnel mines. Governments who join this treaty must stop the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of antipersonnel mines immediately. They must destroy all stockpiled antipersonnel mines within four years and clear all antipersonnel mines in all mined areas under their jurisdiction or control within 10 years. In addition, States Parties in a position to do so must provide assistance for the care and treatment of landmine survivors, their families and communities, and support for mine/ERW risk education programs to help prevent mine incidents.
This legal instrument provides a framework for taking action, but it is up to governments to implement treaty obligations and it is the task of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to work together with governments to ensure they uphold their treaty obligations.
The ultimate goal of the ICBL and its sister campaign, the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), is a world free of landmines, cluster munitions, and ERW, where civilians can walk freely without the fear of stepping on a mine, children can play without mistaking an unexploded submunition for a toy, communities don’t bear the social and economic impact of mines or ERW presence for decades to come, and the rights of survivors and persons with similar needs are protected.
International Campaign to Ban Landmines
The ICBL is a global network in some 100 countries, working locally, nationally, and internationally to eradicate antipersonnel mines. It received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with its founding coordinator Jody Williams in recognition of its efforts to bring about the Mine Ban Treaty.
The campaign is a loose, flexible network whose members share the common goal of working to eliminate antipersonnel landmines.
The ICBL was launched in October 1992 by a group of six NGOs: Handicap International (now Humanity & Inclusion), Human Rights Watch, Medico International, Mines Advisory Group, Physicians for Human Rights, and Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation. These founding organizations witnessed the horrendous effects of mines on the communities they were working within Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, and saw how mines hampered and even prevented their development efforts in these countries. They realized that a comprehensive solution was needed to address the crisis caused by landmines, and that the solution was a complete ban on antipersonnel mines.
The founding organizations brought to the international campaign practical experience of the impact of landmines. They also brought the perspective of the different sectors they represented: human rights, children’s rights, development issues, refugee issues, and medical and humanitarian relief. ICBL member campaigns contacted other NGOs, who spread the word through their networks; news of this new coalition and the need for a treaty banning antipersonnel landmines soon stretched throughout the world. The ICBL organized conferences and campaigning events in many countries to raise awareness of the landmine problem and the need for a ban, and to provide training to new campaigners to enable them to be effective advocates in their respective countries.
Campaign members worked at the local, national, regional, and global level to encourage their governments to support the mine ban. The ICBL’s membership grew rapidly, and today there are campaigns in some 100 countries.
The Mine Ban Treaty was opened for signature on 3 December 1997 in Ottawa, Canada. It was due to the sustained and coordinated action by the ICBL that the Mine Ban Treaty became a reality.
Part of the ICBL’s success is its ability to evolve with changing circumstances. The early days of the campaign were focused on developing a comprehensive treaty banning antipersonnel mines. Once this goal was achieved, attention shifted to ensuring that all countries join the treaty and that all States Parties fully implement their treaty obligations. Today, the campaign also encourages States Parties to complete their major treaty obligations by 2025, a target agreed in the 2014 Maputo Declaration and reiterated in the 2019 Oslo Action Plan.
The ICBL works to promote the global norm against mine use and advocates for countries who have not joined the treaty to take steps to do so. The campaign also urges non-state armed groups to abide by the spirit of the treaty.
Much of the ICBL’s work is focused on promoting implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. This includes working in partnership with governments and international organizations on all aspects of treaty implementation, from stockpile destruction to mine clearance to victim assistance.
The campaign has been successful in part because it has a clear campaign message and goal; a non-bureaucratic campaign structure and flexible strategy; and an effective partnership with other NGOs, international organizations, and governments.
The ICBL’s efforts to ban landmines have led to a whole new approach called humanitarian disarmament, which is spearheaded by civil society campaigns and has led to four international treaties and, to date, two Nobel Peace Prizes.
In January 2011, the ICBL merged with the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) to become the ICBL-CMC, but the CMC and the ICBL remain two distinct and strong campaigns.
Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor
Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor provides research and monitoring for the ICBL and the CMC and is formally a program of the ICBL-CMC. It is the de facto monitoring regime for the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It monitors and reports on States Parties’ implementation of, and compliance with, the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and more generally, it assesses the international community’s response to the humanitarian problems caused by landmines, cluster munitions, and other ERW.
In June 1998, the ICBL created Landmine Monitor as an ICBL initiative, for the first time bringing NGOs together in a coordinated, systematic, and sustained way to monitor humanitarian law or disarmament treaties and to regularly document progress and challenges. In 2008, Landmine Monitor also functionally became the research and monitoring arm of the CMC. In 2010, the initiative changed its name from Landmine Monitor to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor (known as “the Monitor”) to reflect its increased reporting on the cluster munition issue. The Monitor successfully puts into practice the concept of civil society-based verification that is now employed in many similar contexts.
Responsibility for the coordination of the Monitor lies with the Monitoring and Research Committee, a standing committee of the ICBL-CMC Governance Board. The ICBL-CMC produces and publishes Landmine Monitor and Cluster Munition Monitor as separate publications.
The Monitor is not a technical verification system or a formal inspection regime. It is an attempt by civil society to hold governments accountable to the obligations they have taken on with respect to antipersonnel mines and cluster munitions. This is done through extensive collection, analysis, and distribution of publicly available information on all aspects of mine action. Although in some cases it does entail investigative missions, the Monitor does not send researchers into harm’s way and does not include hot war-zone reporting.
Monitor reporting complements transparency reporting required of states under international treaties. It reflects the shared view that transparency, trust, and mutual collaboration are crucial elements for the successful eradication of antipersonnel mines, cluster munitions, and ERW. The Monitor was also established in recognition of the need for independent reporting and evaluation.
The Monitor aims to promote and advance discussion on mine-, cluster munition-, and ERW-related issues, and to seek clarifications to help reach the goal of a world free of mines, cluster munitions, and ERW. The Monitor works in good faith to provide factual information about issues it is monitoring, in order to benefit the international community as a whole.
The Monitor system features a global reporting network, country profiles, and an annual report. A network of more than two-dozen researchers and an Editorial Team gathered information to prepare this report. The researchers come from the ICBL-CMC campaigning coalitions and from other elements of civil society, including journalists, academics, and research institutions.
Unless otherwise specified, all translations were done by the Monitor.
As was the case in previous years, the Monitor acknowledges that this ambitious report is limited by the time, resources, and information sources available. The Monitor is a system that is continuously updated, corrected, and improved. Comments, clarifications, and corrections from governments and others are sought, in the spirit of dialogue, and in the common search for accurate and reliable information on an important subject.
About this report
This is the 22nd annual Landmine Monitor report. It is the sister publication to the Cluster Munition Monitor report, first published in November 2010.
Landmine Monitor 2020 provides a global overview of the landmine situation. Chapters on developments in specific countries and other areas are available in online Country Profiles at www.the-monitor.org/cp.
Landmine Monitor covers mine ban policy, use, production, trade, and stockpiling; includes information on developments and challenges in assessing and addressing the impact of mine contamination and casualties through clearance, risk education, and victim assistance; and documents international and national support for mine action. This report focuses on calendar year 2019, with information included up to October 2020 where possible.
A broad-based network of individuals, campaigns, and organizations from around the world produced this report. It was assembled by a dedicated team of research coordinators and editors, with the support of a significant number of donors.
Researchers are cited separately on the Monitor website at www.the-monitor.org. The Monitor is grateful to everyone who contributed research to this report. We wish to thank the scores of individuals, campaigns, NGOs, international organizations, field practitioners, and governments who provided us with essential information. We are grateful to ICBL-CMC staff for all their crucial assistance.
Responsibility for the coordination of the Monitor lies with the Monitoring and Research Committee, a standing committee of the ICBL-CMC Governance Board comprised of five NGOs as well as Monitor research team leaders and ICBL-CMC staff. The committee’s members include: DanChurchAid (Dennis Solberg Kjeldsen), Danish Demining Group (Richard MacCormac), Human Rights Watch (Stephen Goose), Humanity & Inclusion (Alma Taslidžan Al-Osta), Mines Action Canada (Paul Hannon), Loren Persi Vicentic (Impact Research team coordinator), Kasia Derlicka-Rosenbauer (ICBL-CMC Government Liaison and Policy manager), Diana Carolina Prado Mosquera (Advocacy and Campaigns manager), Marion Loddo (Monitor Editorial manager), and ex officio member Hector Guerra (ICBL-CMC director).
Morgan McKenna served as interim Monitor Program manager from September 2019 to April 2020, and provided advisory support during the management transition in the Monitor.
From January to October 2020, the Monitor’s Editorial Team undertook research, updated country profiles, and produced thematic overviews for Landmine Monitor 2020. The Editorial Team included:
- Ban policy: Mark Hiznay, Stephen Goose, Jacqulyn Kantack, Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan, and Mary Wareham;
- Impact (contamination, clearance, casualties, risk education, and victim assistance): Loren Persi Vicentic, Ruth Bottomley, Farzana Mursal Alizada, Éléa Boureux, Mariana Díaz García, Alžbeta Djurbová, Sarah Edgcumbe, Marianne Schulze, and Clémentine Tavernier; and
- Support for mine action: Marion Loddo.
Final editing was provided by Marion Loddo in October and November 2020 with assistance from Michael Hart (publications consultant).
Report formatting and cover design was undertaken by Lixar I.T. Inc. Pole Communication printed the report in Switzerland. This report was also published digitally at www.the-monitor.org.
The front cover photograph was provided by Sean Sutton/MAG and back cover photographs provided by Dieter Telemans/HI and TBC. Additional photographs found within Landmine Monitor 2020 were provided by multiple photographers, cited with each photograph.
We extend our gratitude to Monitor contributors*.
- Government of Australia
- Government of Austria
- Government of Canada
- Government of Germany
- Government of Luxembourg
- Government of Norway
- Government of Switzerland
- Government of the United States of America**
- Holy See
The Monitor is also grateful for the support received from private donors.
The Monitor’s supporters are in no way responsible for, and do not necessarily endorse, the material contained in this report. We also thank the donors who have contributed to the organizational members of the Monitoring and Research Committee and other participating organizations.
* List accurate as of October 2020.
** Specifically, for research on mine action, support for mine action, casualties, and victim assistance.