The future of the Landmine Treaty and the role of Latin America
By María Pía Devoto ( APP / Red SEHLAC )
The Mine Ban Treaty Third Review Conference took place from 23-27, June 2014 in Maputo, Mozambique. It marked a critical moment in the treaty’s history, taking place 15 years after the treaty entry into force and after the First Meeting of States Parties, in 1999, which was also held in Maputo. Mozambique was one of the most affected areas of the world and today, thanks to the Convention, the commitment of Mozambique and donor support; its territory is close to be completely free of mines.
The meeting was characterized by optimism because of the progress and the need to renew the commitment to complete the work, as prayed the logo of the ICBL for this meeting, «Completion Challenge».
Among the good news: the Convention now has 161 States Parties and while in 1996, 26,000 people died or were injured by landmines and explosive remnants of war each year; today that figure (despite the hope to be «Zero») is 4000 people.
As illustrated by the Landmine Monitor Cluster Munitions, 27 States Parties with the contaminated territory were announced itself as free of anti personnel mines since the Convention entered into force, 47 million anti personnel mines have been destroyed and the novelty of meeting was that the U.S. announced its intention to join the Convention.
In Maputo, States adopted two documents. One, is a policy statement in which it was established the date 2025 to complete the obligations of the Convention regard to cleanliness, destroy the stocks and bring assistance to victims; and the second document was an «Action Plan», with 31 measures to strengthen the work, although doesn’t specify a deadline.
The atmosphere in the room was perceived as one more meeting, plane in a colloquial sense, a meeting without proper significance despite the excellent work done in Mozambique, especially in all preparations. In addition, warning signs were lit: firstly, Finland seemed to withdraw from the Convention, which finally did not happen; and secondly, Yemen admitted that its armed forces used anti personnel mines and were doing the necessary investigations.
These two facts symbolize the implementation of the Convention and the commitment of States with a view to the future and also the need to renew the political responsibilities of everyone, including civil society, in their role as permanent monitor.
A major challenge, in addition to the strict compliance with the Convention by the States Parties (mainly cleaning and destruction) remains the victim assistance. Although far from the numbers of other regions, such as the case of Iraq, in the Middle East, victims, their families and communities in our region deserve specialized care and in cases like Colombia, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Peru should be given priority in the framework of the Convention.
We already have the sub region of Central America as mine-free zone, however, there remain several areas to clear, to reach the longing for a region free of landmines. In South America, the States expressed their difficulties to clear its territory, though for entirely different reasons: Colombia, because the conflict, Ecuador due to the extent of contaminated land, known recently.
The Ambassador of Mexico addressed the plenary, during the high-level segment on behalf of the Latin American and Caribbean group, noting that the region, as the Presidents expressed within CELAC, is an area of peace and that the countries of the region follow up together Cartagena Action Plan (Plan adopted at the previous review Conference 2009) especially in regard to cleaning of territory and care for victims.
While the commitments were renewed; the convention will have a «new architecture» to give more effectiveness. Jordan Mirred Prince and Princess Astrid of Belgium, were present once again showing its continued commitment, like many states, especially civil society. And despite all this, it was felt a sense of flatness monotony at the meeting.
A large number of representatives of civil society were seen in Maputo. Victims and young stood out in the group but … how long it can sustain the effort? How much time donors’ countries can continue to give priority to landmines? and How long they will continue to support both countries still have commitments to fulfill, as civil society, to maintain constant pressure and presence? We have no answer to those questions but what I can say, is that while there are pending tasks, destroy stocks, land for cleaning, States still using landmines and victims, families and communities, no one, absolutely no one can ignore or look the other way.
As remarked in the ICBL final statement during the High Level session:
«… Completing challenges will require determination, sufficient resources and good practice. it is necessary to have what it is called «the spirit of Maputo» in 1999. Let the world know that a world free of anti personnel mines, is not an impossible dream, it will not take centuries or endless efforts. We can imagine a world where landmines are not used, where there are no more contaminated territories, where there are no more victims and where survivors have secured the necessary services.