Ottawa Treaty Turns 20
Today, we mark 20 years since the signing of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (or the so-called Ottawa Convention). The Ottawa Convention was signed on 3 December 1997 and entered into force on 1 March 1999 and is one of the world’s most universal treaties. It can also be praised as successful in that the international community recognised the detrimental effects of landmines not just on the safety and security of the civilian population but on the broader development efforts as well. It brings together 162 State Parties, over 80% of the world's countries.
In this period, much has been achieved. Twenty-six State Parties to the Ottawa Convention, with the support of international agencies, organisations and nongovernmental organisations, including ITF Enhancing Human Security (ITF), have successfully concluded clearing their territory of landmines. To that end, ITF implemented several projects in Albania and Macedonia and thus directly assisted both countries in successfully achieving a mine-free status . Today, there are 110 million less items of weapons suspected of being stockpiled than there were at the time the Ottawa Convention entered into force, with 90 State Parties completing the destruction of their stockpiles. The annual number of casualties was dropping until 2012, when the trend started to rise again. Namely, 2014 witnessed 60% fewer casualties than 1999, but unfortunately the number then rose again by 75% in 2015 compared to 2014.
There is much more to be done. Agenda 2025 or the so-called Finish the Job campaign proposes to reach a mine-free world as Ottawa Convention’s main goal by 2025. With just 8 years left, it is alarming that the financial support for mine action has been declining over the recent years. Even more troubling, in 2015 we experienced an average incidence rate of almost 18 mine/ERW casualties per day, compared to 10 casualties per day in 2014. Hence, joint action and strong partnerships in mine action, which include states, international organisations, nongovernmental organisations and the civil society, are crucial for helping mine-affected states in achieving the set goals and making the entire world a safer place.