The 2nd review conference of the anti-personnel landmine ban treaty has concluded in the Colombian city of Cartagena with two African countries announcing they are mine free.
Rwanda and Zambia met the goal, along with Albania and Greece, set more than a decade ago when the mine ban treaty was first signed. The conference dubbed the Cartagena summit was attended by over 1000 activists, survivors and government delegates.
At the summit more than 120 governments adopted the Cartagena Action Plan, a detailed five-year plan of commitments on all areas of mine action including victim assistance, mine clearance, risk education, stockpile destruction and international cooperation.
“The United States for the first time attended a formal meeting of the treaty, and announced that it has initiated a review of its landmine policy,” said Bob Mtonga, a campaigner from Zambia and a member of the advisory board of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).
He said the U.S. attendance was significant because although the country has not yet joined the Mine Ban Treaty, it is the largest donor. “As a country, the United States is the largest donor. They have so far put into the program [ICBL] $1.5 billion,” he said.
Mtonga noted that Zambia and Rwanda were able to achieve the mine-free status because of a committed leadership in the respective countries and the international cooperation. “The partners came through for Rwanda; they came through for Zambia and that pushed the agenda forward.”
He revealed that in Zambia land mine victims have benefitted from laws meant to protect people with disabilities.
“There are programs that address the issues of the disabled, Mtonga said, “and land mine victims have been served well by these programs.”
He said that even communities around the land mine victims have benefited from such programs.
Assistance to landmine survivors, their families, and communities figured prominently throughout the summit
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is a global network in over 70 countries that works for a world free of antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions, where landmine and cluster munitions survivors can lead fulfilling lives.
The Campaign was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its efforts to bring about the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.