March 1st is the seventh anniversary of the day the International Landmine Treaty took effect. The treaty was signed in Ottawa, Canada in 1997 and went into force on March first, 1999, after ratification by 40 countries. The United States has not yet joined the treaty.
Sylvie Brigot is the executive director of the Nobel Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). From Ottawa, she spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the effect of the treaty:
“I think it has been very successful. We started this more than 10 years ago, in 1992, calling for a total ban on landmines. We today have a convention banning this weapon. One hundred forty-nine states are parties to this convention.”
The treaty bans the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. It also calls on states to destroy mines already in the ground and care for those who’ve been maimed by the weapons.
The ICBL has “condemned the governments of Burma, Nepal and Russia for continuing to use anti-personnel mines.” It’s also expressing concern about possible US production of a new anti-personnel system called Spider, which could be used in a way similar to landmines. Brigot says, however, the ICBL has learned the US Congress has currently delayed action on the weapons system until it has more information.
China, Cuba, India, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Singapore and Vietnam continue to produce landmines. “These are the ones still producing the weapons,” says Brigot, “but at the same time some of them have already adopted national implementation measures to stop the export of anti-personnel mines.”