The global landmine crisis is man-made and the effects have reached almost epidemic proportions. The AP landmines represent a real and constant threat to people - to the safety and well being of the individual in many societies. The AP landmines deny people a means of livelihood. They deny people their human rights, not least the freedom of movement. In recent conflict situations AP landmines have been planted not only to kill and maim, but to drive minority groups or persons perceived to be enemies away from their homes and countries or particular areas. This tendency is part of the dramatic growth in attacks on civilian populations during armed conflicts. It represents a blatant breach of international humanitarian law and human rights.
The threat of AP landmines is especially serious for the most vulnerable members of society. The AP landmines have an effect, which extends beyond the wounds inflicted on the individual. They further impoverish and marginalise the poor.
--They traumatise the coping mechanisms of individuals and families.
--They seriously damage and completely paralyse whole communities.
--They block the delivery of humanitarian assistance and disrupt long-term development
--In short, they inflict wounds on society, as well as individuals. They are a threat to human security.
Mine action must be people-centred and an integrated part of processes of reconciliation, rehabilitation, reconstruction, economic and social development of war-torn societies.
Mine action is about giving people to live in an environment free from the physical, psychological and socio-economic threats posed by AP landmines, to live in freedom from fear.
The measure of success of mine action cannot be restricted to the number of mines that have been removed and destroyed. There is a need for better indicators to assess the long-term impact of mine action. These should include information on; increased access to basic social services, afflicted areas transformed into productive land, numbers of refugees and displaced persons repatriated in safety and dignity and mine victims being reintegrated as productive members of society.
The Mine Ban Convention
The Mine Ban Convention has established an international norm supported by a vast majority of members of the United Nations. To this date, 68 states have ratified and 135 have signed the Mine Ban Convention – a record in the history of multilateral arms related agreements. Even for states not parties to the convention, the political price of not adhering to this norm has risen considerably. However, this encouraging development must not lead to complacency on our part.
The forming of a global coalition between many different players was one of the main reasons for the unprecedented progress leading to the Mine Ban Convention. The process was successful because it brought together a broad coalition of countries and organisations. It included mine-affected countries, humanitarian organisations, and non-governmental organisations active in the field of human rights, of refugee protection and assistance, of humanitarian programmes and individual victims.
Another important element behind the success of the Ottawa process was the comprehensive way the landmine issue was addressed. The objective was not a partial, but a truly total ban on AP landmines – with no exceptions or loopholes. Not only were the use, production and stockpiling of AP landmines addressed, but also the destruction and removal of those AP landmines, and equally important the economic and social rehabilitation of landmine victims.
The shared concern and cooperation between the different players gave the process the necessary political strength and credibility. Each player brought his particular expertise to the table. Working together, they managed to create a synergistic effect. Only states could sign a legally binding convention. However, organisations and networks like the ICRC and the ICBL had the tools, knowledge and the will to mobilise the public opinion.
The first meeting of States Parties is an opportunity for States Parties, signatory states, other interested states, humanitarian agencies and organisations to discuss forward-looking initiatives and measures to effectively implement the objectives of the Convention and thereby contribute to the new stage in the Mine Ban process: from campaigning to implementation. Convening the first meeting in Mozambique, a mine-affected country, is highly appropriate and recognises Africa’s crucial role in bringing about a total ban on anti-personnel landmines
Activities supported by Norway
Norway has been supporting mine action activities around the world for more than ten years – both through the UN system, international organisations such as ICRC and NGO`s like Norwegian People’s Aid, Handicap International and others. At the signing conference in Ottawa in December 1997, Norway committed USD 120 million to mine action over a five-year period.