Statement on Stockpile Destruction
Intersessional Meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty
8 June 2018
Delivered by Mary Wareham, Human Rights Watch
The requirement to destroy all stockpiled antipersonnel landmines within the firm and relatively short deadline with no possibility for extension is a remarkable provision of the Mine Ban Treaty. With a few notable and regrettable exceptions, States Parties have successfully implemented this obligation, collectively destroying more than 53 million stockpiled mines over the past two decades.
According to Landmine Monitor, all except two of the 33 states not party to the Mine Ban Treaty currently stockpile antipersonnel landmines. Yet these states have also been taking stepts to destroy their stocks and the collective estimate of antipersonnel mines stockpiled by these states has decreased over the past 20 years from approximately 160 million antipersonnel mines to perhaps less than 50 million mines.
Today, up to six of the treaty’s 164 States Parties continue to stockpile antipersonnel mines. Greece, Oman, and Ukraine have formally declared stocks. Somalia and Sri Lanka may have stocks, but we await their formal declarations in their Article 7 transparency reports. Tuvalu is not likely to have stocks, but must also submit its transparency report.
The newest State Party, Palestine, has stated that it does not possess a stockpile and that it will not retain any mines for training purposes.
Three States Parties still must destroy a collective total more than 5.5 million antipersonnel mines: Ukraine (4.9 million), Greece (640,761), and Oman (7,630).
We welcome the update from Oman today that it should complete destruction of its stockpile antipersonnel mines by the end of this year.
We appreciate the update from Greece on its progress in stockpile destruction and cooperation with Bulgaria in this regard.
Yet we are deeply disappointed at the non-compliance of Ukraine with this core obligation of the Mine Ban Treaty. Ukraine has not submitted a transparency reports for calendar year 2017, as of today, which makes it impossible to properly assess their progress. Most disturbingly, Ukraine also did not intervene on its stockpile destruction status at the 16MSP in December or today here at the intersessional meetings. We urge Ukraine to accelerate their efforts and complete the task as soon as possible or by the Fourth Review Conference.
New State Party Sri Lanka is obligated to declare any stockpiles in its initial transparency report, which is due by 28 November 2018. Sri Lanka did not mention any stocks in its 2005 voluntary transparency report, but media reports indicate that some landmines have been destroyed from stocks in recent months.
Somalia stated in 2013 that it is working to “verify if in fact it holds antipersonnel mines in its stockpile.” Somalia has admitted that “large stocks are in the hands of former militias and private individuals.”
Additionally, non-state armed groups in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen, as well as in Western Sahara, were reported to possess stocks of factory-made antipersonnel mines and/or components to manufacture improvised landmines.
Finally, the destruction of stockpiles of improvised antipersonnel mines requires some attention from States Parties in this forum, but more information needs to be researched and assessed. For example, do authorities in places where improvised mines are produced, stored, and used have any lessons learned to share? Are there requirements for possible international cooperation and assistance? Is treaty compliance even considered when improvised antipersonnel mines are found? Are there obstacles at the national level that hinder consistent transparency reporting? The ICBL welcomes further action on this issue.
Stockpile destruction has potentially saved millions of lives, as a mine destroyed from stocks can never claim a victim. Implementation of this treaty obligation has also potentially saved hundreds of millions of dollars, as it is much cheaper to destroy a stockpiled mine than it is to clear one or to care for its victim. Be proud of the achievements to date, but we urge states parties work collectively to help ensure that states parties yet to complete this essential task do so as swiftly as possible.