UN declares the world must be rid of landmines

 A warning sign in the Falkland Islands, marking an area still not cleared of mines A warning sign in the Falkland Islands, marking an area still not cleared of mines © Photo by Gannet77 on iStock

In Focus by Sitara Sandhu; Editor: Gabriella Pavlakis; Traduzione: Sara Fontana

While observing the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized the importance of eliminating landmines in the world. He urged all states that have not yet acceded to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention to do so immediately in order to create a safer environment. The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, also known as the Ottawa Convention, is an international agreement that “bans the use, production, transfer and stockpile of anti-personnel landmines, and requires assistance to the victims of these weapons.” The treaty currently has 133 signatories and 164 state parties. 

These devices continue to kill and injure even after a war has ended, and most often “it is civilians who suffer the horrific consequences.” Anti-personnel mines are small explosive devices “placed under, on or near the ground, are victim-activated, and designed to detonate when a person steps on, handles or comes near it, regardless of whether that person is a soldier or a civilian man, woman or child” according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Furthermore, children are particularly vulnerable to the damage inflicted by them, as the explosive devices are often mistaken for toys. Landmines kill indiscriminately, obstruct economic development, and prevent the delivery of humanitarian aid. 

Landmines are present in ongoing conflicts such as the ongoing civil war in Syria, as well as in regions where armed-conflict took place long ago, such as parts of Vietnam. Although the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention has resulted in significant progress in regards to destroying these explosive devices, there is still much work to be done in order to rid the world of landmines. Guterres stated that “we cannot be content simply with advocacy and campaigning to create awareness of the dangers posed by landmines,” and emphasized the importance of surveying, clearing and destroying the fatal devices. 


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