A new report says the production, use and stockpiling of landmines has dropped significantly since an international treaty banning landmines came into force in 1997.
The report, based on a study of 95 countries, says the movement to ban landmines is having a major impact around the world. It says there has been a dramatic drop in landmine production, from 55 countries to 14, and an increased destruction of weapons stockpiles.
Susan Walker represents the Nobel Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines. She says she is very heartened that, according to the report, the number of landmine victims seems to be steadily declining. She attributes this to a combination of factors. "There is increased mine-awareness programs," she says. "There is increased mine-clearance programs worldwide. Also, a number of conflicts have been resolved over the past year. There has been decreased use and, I think, some of this, perhaps all of it, I do not know, is directly related to the success of the Convention, political will of countries to do this and the stigmatization of the weapon."
But the Landmines Monitor Report makes clear the news is not all good. It says the use of antipersonnel mines has increased in several countries, including Colombia, Sri Lanka, and Burma. Ms. Walker says Angolan rebel UNITA forces and Angolan government troops are reportedly planting mines in neighboring Namibia.
Ms. Walker says she is particularly disturbed that Uganda, a signatory to the landmines treaty, appears to have violated it by planting landmines in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. "We have very good evidence, very probable evidence, that Uganda used mines in the DRC conflict in June of 2000," she says. "We believe that these are serious and credible allegations and they merit the urgent attention of States-Parties."
Ms. Walker says the Ugandan government denies it used antipersonnel mines in Congo. Nevertheless, she urges the Ugandan government to investigate and clarify these allegations.