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Ottawa Treaty

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Ottawa Treaty

Ottawa Treaty
(Mine Ban Treaty)
Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction
  States that are party to the Ottawa Treaty
Drafted 18 September 1997
Signed 3 December 1997
Location Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Effective 1 March 1999
Condition Ratifications by 40 states
Signatories 133
Parties 162 (Complete List)
Depositary Secretary-General of the United Nations
Languages Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish

The Ottawa Treaty, the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, or often simply referred to as the Mine Ban Treaty, but officially known as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, aims at eliminating anti-personnel landmines (AP-mines) around the world. To date, there are 162 States Parties to the treaty. One state has signed but not ratified (The Marshall Islands) while 34 UN states including the United States, Russia and China are non-signatories, making a total of 35 United Nations states not party.[1]


  • Chronology 1
  • Implementation 2
    • Treaty terms 2.1
    • Destruction of stockpiles 2.2
    • Retention of landmines 2.3
    • Landmine-free countries 2.4
  • Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor ("the Monitor") 3
  • Signatories 4
  • Criticism 5
  • Review conferences 6
  • Annual meetings 7
  • UN General Assembly Annual Resolutions 8
  • Key figures in the making of "The Peoples Treaty" 9
    • Letter Writers & NGO's 9.1
    • The International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Jody Williams 9.2
    • Mines Action Canada 9.3
    • Diana, Princess of Wales 9.4
    • Lloyd Axworthy 9.5
    • Bobby Muller 9.6
  • See also 10
  • References 11
  • External links 12


1939 Landmines are first used widely in World War II.

1977 During the Geneva Convention, one provision is amended to prohibit the targeting of civilian populations by indiscriminate weapons in wartime.

1980 The Convention on Conventional Weapons limits the use of landmines against persons.

1991 Six NGOs supporting a ban of landmines begin organizing ICBL (The International Campaign to Ban Landmines).

1993 The first international meeting of NGOs is held in London. The ICBL issues the study Landmines:A deadly Legacy., and the US Department of State publishes its report Hidden Killer: The Global Problem with Uncleared Landmines.[3]

1995 The first national law to ban antipersonnel is passed in Belgium.

1996 Canada launches the Ottawa process to ban landmines by hosting a meeting among like-minded, anti-landmine states.

1997 Mine Ban Treaty is adopted and opened for signature. Jody Williams and the ICBL are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

1998 By securing the 40th ratification of Mine Ban Treaty, the treaty comes into effect and the ICBL launches Landmine Monitor.

1999 Mine Ban Treaty becomes binding international law on 1 March 1999.

2003 First stockpile destruction deadlines are set by all states parties with stockpiles.

2012 20th anniversary of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.[4]


Treaty terms

Besides ceasing the production and development of anti-personnel mines, a party to the treaty must destroy its stockpile of anti-personnel mines within four years, although it may retain a small number for training purposes (mine-clearance, detection, etc.). Within ten years after ratifying the treaty, the country should have cleared all of its mined areas. This is a difficult task for many countries, but at the annual meetings (see below) they may request an extension and assistance. The treaty also calls on States Parties to provide assistance to mine-affected persons in their own country and to provide assistance to other countries in meeting their Mine Ban Treaty obligations.[5][6]

The treaty covers only anti-personnel mines. It does not address mixed mines, anti-tank mines, remote controlled claymore mines, anti-handling devices (booby-traps) and other "static" explosive devices.

Destruction of stockpiles

According to the 2012 Landmine Monitor Report, signatory nations have destroyed more than 46 million stockpiled mines since the treaty's entry into force on 1 March 1999. Eighty-seven countries have completed the destruction of their stockpiles, and another 64 countries have declared that they did not possess stockpiles to destroy.[7]

Retention of landmines

Article 3 of the treaty permits countries to retain landmines for use in training in mine detection, mine clearance, or mine destruction techniques. Seventy-two countries have taken this option. Of this group, 26 States Parties retain fewer than 1,000 mines. Only two have retained more than 10,000 mines: Turkey (15,100) and Bangladesh (12,500). A total of 83 States Parties have declared that they do not retain any antipersonnel mines, including 27 states that stockpiled antipersonnel mines in the past.[8]

Landmine-free countries

Through 2008, eleven States had cleared all known mined areas from their territory: Bulgaria, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Macedonia, Malawi, Suriname, Swaziland, and Tunisia.[9]

At the November–December 2009 Cartagena Summit for a Mine-Free World, Albania, Greece, Rwanda, and Zambia were also declared mine-free.[10] On 2 December 2009, Rwanda was declared free of landmines.[11] It followed a three-year campaign by 180 Rwandan soldiers, supervised by the Mine Awareness Trust and trained in Kenya, to remove over 9,000 mines laid in the country between 1990 and 1994.[11] The soldiers checked and cleared 1.3 square km of land in twenty minefields.[11] The official Cartagena Summit announcement came after the Rwandan Ministry of Defence's own announcement of the completion of the demining process on 29 November 2009.[12] Under Article 5 of the Ottawa Treaty, Rwanda was requested to become mine-free by 1 December 2010.[12]

On 18 June 2010, Nicaragua was declared free of landmines.[13]

Two more countries became free of landmines in 2011. On 14 June 2011, Nepal was declared a landmine-free zone, making it the second country (after China) to be landmine-free in Asia.[14] In December 2011, Burundi was declared landmine free.[15]

On 5 December 2012 at the 12th Meeting of the States Parties, six states declared themselves landmine-free. These were the Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Jordan, and Uganda.[16]

On 17 September 2015, Mozambique was declared free of land mines after the last of some nearly 171,000 had been cleared over 20 years.[17]

Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor ("the Monitor")

Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor("the Monitor") is an initiative providing research for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC). It is the de facto monitoring regime for both ICBL and CMC.

As an initiative of ICBL which was founded in 1998, the Monitor gives monitoring on the humanitarian development and uses of landmines, cluster munitions, and explosive remnants of war (ERW). It provides reports on all aspects of the landmine,cluster munitions, and ERW issues. It issues annual report updates on all countries in the world, keeps an international network with experts, provides research findings for all mediums, and remains flexible to adapt its reports to any changes. The Monitor has earned respect with its transparency whose states must be provided under the relevant treaties for independent reporting. Its main audiences are not only governments, NGOs, and other international organizations, but also media, academics and the public.[18]


The original international citizens initiative launched in 1997 by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines gained 855,000 signatories worldwide. The Convention gained 122 country signatures when it opened for signing on 3 December 1997 in Ottawa, Canada. Currently, there are 162 States Parties to the Treaty.[19] Thirty-four countries have not signed the treaty and one more has signed but did not ratify. The states that have not signed the treaty includes a majority of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: China, the United States and Russia. In 2014, the United States declared that it will abide by the terms of the Treaty, except for landmines used on the Korean Peninsula.[20] South Korea, like North Korea, has not signed the treaty, believing the use of landmines to be crucial to the defense of their territory against the other.


Ratification has not been universal, and those states that do not currently intend to ratify the treaty possess large stockpiles of anti-personnel mines.[21] So far 35 countries have not signed the treaty; nonsignatories include the United States, Russia, China, Myanmar, United Arab Emirates, Cuba, Egypt, India, Israel and Iran.[22]

In Finland, the National Coalition Party and the Finns Party proposed withdrawing from the treaty.[23][24]

Opponents of banning anti-personnel mines give several reasons, among them that mines are a cheap and therefore cost-effective area denial weapon. Opponents claim that when used correctly, anti-personnel mines are defensive weapons that harm only attackers,[25] unlike ranged weapons such as ballistic missiles that are most effective if used for preemptive attacks. Furthermore, opponents claim that the psychological effect of mines increases the threshold to attack and thus reduces the risk of war.[26]

The Ottawa Treaty does not cover all types of unexploded ordnance. Cluster bombs, for example, introduce the same problem as mines: unexploded bomblets can remain a hazard for civilians long after a conflict has ended. A separate Convention on Cluster Munitions was drafted in 2008 and was adopted and entered into force in 2010. As of January 2013, there are 77 state parties of the CCM.[27] In theory, mines could be replaced by manually triggered Claymore mines, but this requires the posting of a sentry, which makes it much more expensive than using other indiscriminate weapons such as cluster bombs or artillery bombardment.

Opponents point out that the Ottawa Convention places no restriction whatever on anti-vehicle mines which kill civilians on tractors, on school buses, etc. The position of the United States is that the inhumane nature of landmines stems not from whether they are anti-personnel as opposed to antivehicle but from their persistence. The United States has unilaterally committed to never using persistent landmines of any kind, whether anti-personnel or anti-vehicle, which they say is a more comprehensive humanitarian measure than the Ottawa Convention. All US landmines now self-destruct in two days or less, in most cases four hours. While the self-destruct mechanism has never failed in more than 65,000 random tests, if self-destruct were to fail the mine will self-deactivate because its battery will run down in two weeks or less . That compares with persistent anti-vehicle mines which remain lethal for about 30 years and are legal under the Ottawa Convention.[28][29]

Little progress in actual reduction of mine usage has been achieved. In 2011, the number of landmines dispersed is higher than ever since 2004, landmines being dispersed in Libya, Syria, Israel and Burma.[30]

Turkey reported that between 1957 and 1998, Turkish forces laid 615,419 antipersonnel mines along the Syrian border "to prevent illegal border crossings". These mines are killing Syrians stuck on the border or trying to cross near Kobani. Turkey is required under the treaty to destroy all antipersonnel mines, but has missed deadlines. Human Rights Watch claims in its report that as of November 18, over 2,000 civilians were still in the Tel Shair corridor section of the mine because Turkey had been refusing entry for cars or livestock, and the refugees did not want to leave behind their belongings.[31]

Review conferences

  • First Review Conference: 29 November – 3 December 2004, Nairobi, Kenya: Nairobi Summit on a Mine Free World.[32]
  • Second Review Conference: 29 November – 4 December 2009, Cartagena, Colombia: Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World.[33]
  • Third Review Conference: 23–27 June 2014, Maputo, Mozambique: Maputo Review Conference on a Mine-Free World.[34]

Annual meetings

Annual meetings of the treaty member states are held at different locations around the world. These meetings provide a forum to report on what has been accomplished, indicate where additional work is needed and seek any assistance they may require.

UN General Assembly Annual Resolutions

A recurrent opportunity for States to indicate their support for the ban on antipersonnel mines is their vote on the annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution calling for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. UNGA Resolution 66/29, for example, was adopted on 2 December 2011 by a vote of 162 in favor, none opposed, and 18 abstentions.[54]

Since the first UNGA resolution supporting the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997, the number of states voting in favor has ranged from a low of 139 in 1999 to a high of 165 in 2010. The number of states abstaining has ranged from a high of 23 in 2002 and 2003 to a low of 17 in 2005 and 2006.

Of the 19 states not party that voted in support of Resolution 66/29 on 2 December 2011, nine have voted in favor of every Mine Ban Treaty resolution since 1997 (Armenia, Bahrain, Finland, Georgia, Oman, Poland, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and the United Arab Emirates); 10 that consistently abstained or were absent previously now vote in favor (Azerbaijan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Marshall Islands, Micronesia FS, Mongolia, Morocco, and Tonga). Somalia, now a State Party, was absent from the 2011 resolution, but has voted in favor in previous years.[55]

The number of states abstaining from supporting the resolution has ranged from a high of 23 in 2002 and 2003 to a low of 17 in 2010, 2005 and 2006. The group of states that could be described as most opposed to the Mine Ban Treaty are the 15 states not party that have voted against consecutive resolutions since 1997: Cuba, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Libya (since 1998), Myanmar, North Korea (since 2007), Pakistan, Russia, South Korea, Syria, Uzbekistan (since 1999), the US, and Vietnam (since 1998). Of these states, there appear to be positive developments (in favour of the treaty) in Libya (post-Gaddafi), Myanmar, and the US.[55]

Key figures in the making of "The Peoples Treaty"

Letter Writers & NGO's

The "Peoples Treaty" (as the Ottawa Treaty is affectionately referred to) would not have been possible without the sustained effort of tens of millions of global citizens writing their elected officials for more than a decade. This initially unorganized grass roots movement worked closely with a wide variety of NGO's, including Churches, prominent Children's and Women's rights groups, The United Way and Doctors Without Borders, in order to produce concerted political pressure, as well as with the media to keep the issue forefront in the public's mind. Because of this unparalleled involvement of the global public, and their success in lobbying for these laws, the Ottawa Treaty is often referred to as simply "The Peoples Treaty". University Political Science and Law Departments frequently study the socio-historical processes that led to the Ottawa Process, given it is a leading modern example of the power of peaceful democratic expression.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Jody Williams

The organization the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and its founding coordinator, Jody Williams, were instrumental in the passage of the Ottawa Treaty, and for these efforts they jointly received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. However, since efforts to secure the treaty started over a decade before Ms. Williams involvement and the fact that the treaty was a joint effort of so many people from all over the world, including hundreds of influential political and private leaders, many felt that Ms. Williams should decline to personally benefit from the award of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. Against the wishes of every other board member and an outraged public, Ms. Williams kept the money, instead of contributing it to the cause of removing the landmines.

Mines Action Canada

Valerie Warmington, The Founding Chairwoman of Mines Action Canada (MAC) and member of the ICBL, as well as a lead negotiator for the Canadian Diplomatic Delegation, played perhaps one of the most important overall roles in securing a strong treaty. Warmington and her partner Stephen C. Freitag, a student at Carleton University's Department of Law, who also played an important role in the treaty making process, when together they thought up the Ottawa Process Solution in order to escape the resolute determination of the UN Security council to block a treaty regarding the use of these munitions via the UN treaty making process. This marked the first return to customary international law being used in a major armament treaty in almost a century. This pragmatic process was later duplicated for the Convention on Cluster Munitions and proved highly effective in securing and expressing international will with law, when other formal avenues have been exhausted.

Diana, Princess of Wales

Once in the final stages leading into the treaty, the Ottawa Treaty was ardently championed by Diana, Princess of Wales. In January 1997, she visited Angola and walked near a minefield to dramatize its dangers.[56] In January 1997, Angola's population was approximately 10 million and had about 10–20 million land mines in place from its civil war.[57] In August 1997, she visited Bosnia with the Landmine Survivors Network. Her work with landmines focused on the injuries and deaths inflicted on children.

When the Second Reading of the Landmines Bill took place in 1998 in the British House of Commons, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook praised Diana and paid tribute to her work on landmines:

All honourable Members will be aware from their postbags of the immense contribution made by Diana, Princess of Wales, to bringing home to many of our constituents the human costs of landmines. The best way in which to record our appreciation of her work, and the work of NGOs that have campaigned against landmines, is to pass the Bill, and to pave the way towards a global ban on landmines.[58]

Lloyd Axworthy

In his Canadian Foreign Affairs portfolio (1996–2000), Lloyd Axworthy became internationally known for his advancement of the concept of human security and, in particular, of the need to ratify the Ottawa Treaty. Mr. Axworthy was presented with the blueprint for the Ottawa Process by Valerie Warmington, and was so impressed with the idea he worked to ensure she (and her uncompromising position in calling for a strong treaty) were moved laterally onto Canada's negotiating team - a move which allowed a leading NGO executive to ensure the treaty was not watered down during rounds of negotiation which ensued following Canada's invitation to the worlds nations to sign an open treaty in Ottawa. For his leadership against landmines, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize (1997).[59][60] Coincidentally, Mr. Axworthy's sister was an administrator for Christ Church Cathedral, which owned the historic heritage home on Queen St. in Ottawa which was leased to Valerie Warmington & Stephen C Freitag for their use with Mines Action Canada.

Bobby Muller

Robert O. (Bobby) Muller (born 1946) is an American peace advocate. He participated in the Vietnam War as a young soldier, and after returning from Vietnam, Muller began to work for veterans' rights and became a Peace activist. Since then, Muller founded Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) in 1978 and Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF) in 1980. The VVAF co-founded the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which won a 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.[61]

See also


  1. ^ ICBL Website,
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ ICBL, "Mine Ban Treaty: Victim Assistance,"
  6. ^ ICBL, "Mine Ban Treaty: Other Obligations,"
  7. ^ Landmine Monitor Report 2012, p.6.
  8. ^ Landmine Monitor Report 2012, p. 8.
  9. ^ Landmine Monitor Report 2009, p. 1.
  10. ^ ICBL, "Four New Countries Declared Mine-Free at Landmine Summit," (4 December 2009)
  11. ^ a b c
  12. ^ a b
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Treaty Status, International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ a b
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ 1st Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty
  36. ^ 2nd Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty
  37. ^ 3rd Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty
  38. ^ 4th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty
  39. ^ 5th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty
  40. ^ 6th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty
  41. ^ 7th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty
  42. ^ 8th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty
  43. ^ 9th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty
  44. ^ The Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World
  45. ^
  46. ^ 10th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty
  47. ^
  48. ^ 11th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty
  49. ^
  50. ^ 12th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty
  51. ^
  52. ^ 13th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty
  53. ^ The Maputo Review Conference on a Mine-Free World
  54. ^
  55. ^ a b Landmine Monitor Report 2012, p. 12.
  56. ^
  57. ^ Angola's Landmines
  58. ^
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^

External links

  • Anti-personnel landmines and explosive remnants of war ICRC
  • Landmines and international humanitarian law ICRC
  • Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-personnel Mines full text
  • ICBL website (International Campaign to Ban Landmines)
    • Full text of the treaty in English
    • Full text of the treaty in multiple languages and formats
  • Signatories and ratifications
  • Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor
  • List of Treaty Signatories from the Veterans for America.
  • E-Mine – Electronic Mine Information Network by United Nations Mine Action Service.
  • Action on Armed Violence
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