Antipersonnel landmines

Mina antipersona Mina antipersona © Photo by Diy13 on iStock

What are antipersonnel mines?

Antipersonnel mines are devices containing explosives whose detonation mechanism is activated by proximity or contact with an individual. The explosion caused by an antipersonnel mine has devastating effects on the victims, regardless of whether they are civilians, humanitarian personnel or soldiers.


How is it affecting civilians?

The “Landmine Report 2020” by the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, a civil society initiative providing research for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines - Cluster Munition Coalition (ICBL - CMC), recorded some 5,554 landmine casualties in 2019 alone. The devastating effects of landmine use include psychological damage, burns, blindness or other life-long injuries, such as significant physical disabilities. In addition, 66 states are still contaminated with explosive devices, while 12 are landmine-producing States. A further threat to the effective implementation of the Treaty provisions is the use of improvised mines, by non-state armed groups (NSAGs). In 2019, some 156 km2 of land was declared cleared from mines, as a result of UN funding. One of the most unfortunate developments in 2020 was the new policy adopted by the United States (US), which lifted bans on the production and use of antipersonnel mines, moving them off the path to treaty accession.


What’s the international community doing about it?

The international community has taken many steps towards strengthening its response to the landmine issue. In 1997, the “Ottawa Process” led to the creation of the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT), the first success for the “humanitarian disarmament”. Based on the work of the ICBL, the treaty commits States Parties to destroying their stockpiles of mines, clearing contaminated areas and providing support to victims. It also prohibits the production, stockpiling, transfer and use of antipersonnel mines. 

The 24th International Meeting of Mine Action National Directors and United Nations Advisers (NDM-UN) will be held on 25 May 2021, an opportunity to renew and strengthen cooperation among actors involved in the fight against landmines.


Author: Francesca Mencuccini; Editor: Benedetta Spizzichino

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