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Report: Great Global Progress in Reducing Landmines

Stephen Goose, editor-in-chief head of the Landmine Monitor, answers questions during a press conference about the 2006 Landmine Monitor Report, at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Sep 2006 (file photo)

A new report finds great advances is being made in banning the use and production of anti-personnel landmines. Data from the 2010 Landmine Monitor report shows record-making progress was made last year in implementing the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.

Senior Researcher at Human Rights Watch, Mark Hiznay, said it is astounding to see that more than 12 years after the landmark 1997 Mine Ban Treaty was negotiated, the level of activity and commitment by countries to eradicate this weapon is as strong as ever.

"This weapon is not going into the ground anymore," said Hiznay. "The weapon is coming out of the ground and the number of victims is falling, which is exactly what we wanted to do with this treaty."

Hiznay said landmine use is way down. He said Russia has been removed from the list of users this year, leaving Burma as the only government still actively planting mines in the ground.

He says non-state armed groups in only six countries -- Afghanistan, Colombia, India, Myanmar [Burma], Pakistan and Yemen -- continue to use landmines.

He said only a dozen countries produce landmines, and of these only three - India, Burma and Pakistan - are believed to continue to actively manufacture these weapons.

"We identify 3,956 new casualties to landmines and explosive remnants of war in 2009," said Hiznay. "Again, this is the lowest annual total since we began monitoring in 1999 and it is 28 percent lower than it was in 2008. In terms of ground cleared this year, mine action programs cleared at least 198 square kilometers of mined areas in 2009. And again, this is the highest total that we have recorded."

Eighty percent of the world's states, that is 156 countries, are party to the Mine Ban Treaty. Thirty-nine countries - including China, India, Pakistan, Russia and the United States - still have not joined the treaty.

However, Editor-in-Chief of the Landmine Monitor, Stephen Goose, said almost all of these countries are largely in de facto compliance with the Convention.

"For example, the United States has not used since 1991, has not exported since 1992, has not produced since 1997," said Goose. "They have destroyed millions of stockpiled mines …They give more money to clearance and victim assistance than any other country. That sounds like a good member of the treaty, yet they have stayed away. We are hopeful that is going to change."

Goose said activists have stigmatized the use of landmines to such an extent they have won the war against the weapon. He said even rebel groups are feeling the pressure. He said the number of non-state parties using mines also is going down.