Skip to main content

Let me start by giving some context on the new use of antipersonnel mines worldwide.  In recent years, since the last Review Conference, the use of antipersonnel mines by government forces has been rare.  In most years, only one or two governments used mines—Myanmar and Syria - and neither of them used large numbers of mines.

It is important to recognize that with a few notable exceptions, or rather, deplorable exceptions, there has been limited use by non-state armed groups too.  The deplorable exceptions include ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Houthis in Yemen. The  vast majority are improvised mines, improvised antivehicle and antipersonnel mines.

These have often been called improvised explosive devices (IEDs), but should more accurately be called improvised mines. In particular, victim-activated IEDs, those that explode from the presence, proximity, or contact of a person, are in fact antipersonnel mines as defined in the Mine Ban Treaty, and therefore banned by the treaty.

These should always be termed improvised antipersonnel mines or antipersonnel mines of an improvised nature.

During the negotiation of the Mine Ban Treaty, states were very clear that it made no difference if a munition was factory-produced or improvised. I know, I was there.  This was not a contentious point or a matter of debate or interpretation. It was an accepted reality.

The extensive use in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen in recent years have caused some to believe that improvised antipersonnel mines are a new phenomenon, which is simply not the case.  It is the scope of use in these particular countries that is new.  It is true that new types of improvised antipersonnel mines are being encountered and pose new dangers.

States Parties should treat these as they do other antipersonnel mines, should report them in transparency reports as contaminated areas, should clear them in a timely fashion, should report on clearance, and should submit an extension request if necessary.

States Parties should condemn any new use of improvised antipersonnel mines by any actor, they should stigmatize them as banned antipersonnel mines, and should apply all of the Mine Ban Treaty’s provisions to them, including the need to impose penal sanctions to prevent and suppress prohibited acts, most importantly, new use.

Finally, I would like to raise a related issue—explosive booby-traps. It was widely accepted by the negotiators of the Mine Ban Treaty that explosive booby-traps that exploded from the presence, proximity, or contact of a person were captured by the definition of an antipersonnel mine and therefore were banned by the treaty.  Just as with victim-activated IEDs, it would be good for States Parties to re-confirm that these are indeed already banned.

Thank you.

Your tax deductible gift can help stop human rights violations and save lives around the world.