Land mines are explosive devices that are designed to be concealed on or near the ground or other surface area, and be exploded by the presence, proximity, or contact of a person or vehicle(1). Anti-personnel mines are specifically designed to target people, and are banned under the Mine Ban Treaty of 1997.
The Mine Ban Treaty, sometimes called the Ottawa Treaty, came into force on 1 March, 1999. Australia signed the treaty in 1997 and ratified in January 1999.
Under the treaty’s guidance State Parties have:
- cleared and returned to productive use large tracts of land;
- educated mine-affected communities about the risk of antipersonnel mines and other unexploded ordnance;
- provided support to and protected the rights of landmine survivors; and
- destroyed millions of stockpiled anti-personnel mines, ensuring they can never be planted in the earth again.
Today, use of anti-personnel mines is the exception rather than the rule, and the trade in these weapons has virtually stopped. Thanks to the advance of mine clearance and risk education programs, the number of new landmine casualties has steadily decreased.
However, many challenges still remain on the road to a mine-free world, especially in the areas of mine clearance, stockpile destruction, and ensuring real and lasting change in the lives of landmine survivors, their families and communities.
Universalisation of the Mine Ban Treaty is crucial to advancing the international norms that stigmatise the manufacture and use of these weapons. The ultimate goal of SafeGround’s work is to contribute to universalisation of this treaty, to ensure the weapons cause no further harm.