A new report finds significant progress has been made in eradicating antipersonnel landmines since the Mine Ban Treaty came into force 10 years ago. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines has issued its 11th annual Landmine Monitor Report showing the use, production and stockpiling of these weapons has gone down dramatically.
The Mine Ban Treaty is one of the most widely ratified in the world. Authors of the report say 156 nations have now joined the treaty, leaving 39 states that have not.
Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch and Landmine Monitor's Ban Policy Editor says those who have not joined include some of the biggest stockpilers and former and current users of landmines; China, Russia, the United States, India, and Pakistan.
"But, we do see that even with the vast, vast majority of these 39 States that have not yet joined, they are in de facto compliance with most of the key provisions," said Steve Goose. "The United States, for example, has not used since 1991. It has not exported since 1992. It has not produced the weapons since 1997. And, we understand that the Obama Administration is taking a fresh look at U.S. landmine policy."
Goose says the United States has registered to attend the Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty in Cartagena, Colombia in early December. He says this will be the first time the United States will participate in a formal meeting in 10 years.
The report finds that only two countries, Burma and Russia, are still using landmines. It says use by rebel groups has decreased in 2008.
The Landmine Monitor says 38 countries have stopped producing landmines. Only 13 countries, among them Burma, India and Pakistan, are still producing them.
Goose says during the past decade, 44 million stockpiled antipersonnel mines have been destroyed in 86 countries. Belarus, Greece, and Turkey have missed their destruction deadline in violation of the treaty.
Nevertheless, he describes the destruction of these weapons as a major achievement.
"When you destroy a mine from your stockpile, it is a mine that will never get laid, will never take a life or a limb," he said. "So, we put a very high priority on this preventive mine action, if you will."
Since 1999, the report says millions of lives have been saved by the removal of more than two million landmines, 250,000 anti-vehicle mines and 17 million explosive remnants of war in more than 90 countries.
Between 1999 and 2008, the Landmine Monitor identified more than 73,500 casualties in 119 countries. It says the actual number is probably higher.