What are the current challenges and successes of the Mine Ban Treaty?

October 2016 marked 20 years since Canada’s then-Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy challenged states to negotiate and sign an instrument banning antipersonnel landmines by the end of 1997. After a whirlwind process that forged a new model of citizen diplomacy, the Mine Ban Treaty opened for signature on 3 December 1997 and entered into force on 1 March 1999.

The Mine Ban Treaty now has 162 States Parties. It provides the framework for eradicating antipersonnel landmines through its comprehensive prohibitions and requirements that States Parties clear mined areas within 10 years, destroy stockpiles within four years, and provide victim assistance.

The Mine Ban Treaty has created a humanitarian disarmament standard that other instruments have followed, particularly its sister instrument the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. However, Mine Ban Treaty States Parties are being tested by new use of the weapon and a significant rise in casualties.

Over the past year, non-state armed groups (NSAGs) have used antipersonnel landmines in 10 countries. The new use of antipersonnel mines by NSAGs in conflicts in Ukraine and Yemen and continued large-scale use of victim-activated improvised mines across Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and other countries is particularly disturbing. These victim-activated mines are often referred to as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or booby-traps. If they can be exploded by the presence, proximity, or contact of a person, they meet the definition of an antipersonnel mine in the Mine Ban Treaty, and therefore are banned.

Yet mine-laying by states remains a relatively rare phenomenon, with use only by the government forces of Myanmar, North Korea, and Syria in the past year.

States Parties are steadily implementing the Mine Ban Treaty. Most of the 35 nations that remain outside of the treaty also abide by its key provisions despite not acceding.

Several States Parties are still facing serious compliance issues, particularly with respect to missed stockpile destruction deadlines and repeated mine clearance deadline extensions. However, governments, international organizations—such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL)—continue to work together to support those facing challenges. Since its creation in 2014, the Mine Ban Treaty’s Committee on Cooperative Compliance has diligently followed up on allegations of landmine use by States Parties.

(Last updated based on Landmine Monitor 2016)