Anti-personnel (AP) mines maim and kill civilians and combatants indiscriminately, even after hostilities have ended. Hundreds of thousands of people, mainly civilians, have become either direct victims of AP mines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW), or indirect victims as they can no longer search for firewood, collect water or simply cultivate their fields. The injuries AP mines cause are particularly horrific, disabling survivors for life, and requiring long-term assistance for the victims and their families. Mines also take a significant psychological toll on survivors, relatives and entire communities.
In addition to the human cost, AP mines have a huge social and economic cost and hamper essential services such as health care and education. Their presence also severely hinders the delivery of humanitarian relief, the return of displaced people and economic development.
Armed non-State actors and AP mines
Due to their low cost and easy availability, AP mines have been a weapon of choice for many armed non-State actors (ANSAs) worldwide. In recent years, the weapon has been used by more ANSAs than Government forces.
According to Landmine Monitor, in 2013, ANSAs used AP mines and victim-activated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in eight countries.
Some ANSAs also have effective control over territories that are affected by AP mines. Communities living in such areas often receive little or no humanitarian assistance.
Although the use of AP mines is not prohibited under customary international humanitarian law, more than three-quarters of the world’s States are Party to the 1997 AP Mine Ban Convention. Despite its significance, the Convention does not directly apply to ANSAs and provides no opportunity for them to express their adherence to its norms.
It is essential to engage ANSAs if AP mine use is to be prevented and areas where they operate are to be cleared and victims assisted.
Geneva Call’s innovative approach
Geneva Call engages ANSAs to reduce the impact of AP mines on the civilian population by promoting the ban and encouraging cooperation in mine action.
Engagement tools include dialogue, advocacy and training. Geneva Call has also developed an innovative mechanism, the Deed of Commitment for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action, that allows signatory ANSAs, as they cannot become parties to the AP Mine Ban Convention, to undertake to respect its norms. Geneva Call supports and monitors implementation of the Deed of Commitment by signatory ANSAs.
Geneva Call also works with community-based organizations to build their capacities to engage with ANSAs, assist in monitoring their commitments and undertake humanitarian mine action.
- 49 ANSAs have signed the Deed of Commitment banning AP mines and have taken measures to enforce their obligations.
- Most signatories have carried out or cooperated in humanitarian mine action, reducing the impact of mines on civilians. Altogether, they have destroyed over 20,000 stockpiled AP mines, plus thousands of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and items of ERW and other abandoned explosive ordnance.
- In some countries, such as Iraq and Sudan, the commitment made by ANSAs was instrumental in the accession of the concerned State to the AP Mine Ban Convention.
- Several more ANSAs being engaged by Geneva Call are not ready for a total ban on AP mines. Many have nevertheless pledged to limit the use of these weapons through the adoption of other measures, such as by making unilateral declarations, ceasefire agreements, and internal regulations, or by facilitating mine action activities in areas under their control.