African nations urged to join Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty


By Kizito CUDJOE

The Senior Minister of Cambodia and President of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, Dr. Ly Thuch, has called for action to encourage the remaining non-state parties in Africa – Egypt, Libya and Morocco – to join the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention or Mine Ban Treaty.

This is seen as a crucial step toward eliminating the use of landmines globally.

Speaking at a Regional Conference on addressing the humanitarian impact of improvised anti-personnel mines in Accra, he asserted: “As state parties to the convention, one of our obligations is to promote the norms and the universalisation of the convention”.

He underscored that for Africa to stand as an inspiring continent where all countries are state parties to the convention, concerted efforts must be directed toward convincing the three remaining non-state parties to join the convention community.

The call to action resonated with the broader theme of the conference, emphasising the importance of collective efforts in fostering a safer, mine-free world. The emphasis on bringing the remaining non-state parties into the fold reinforced the commitment to universalising the convention and mitigating the devastating consequences of anti-personnel mines in the African context.

The three-day conference will see participation from over 100 delegates, representing more than 25 countries and more than a dozen international and non-governmental organisations.

The meeting aims to discuss and seek solutions to address the ever-growing humanitarian impact caused by the use of improvised anti-personnel mines in parts of West Africa and the Sahel.

The Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, speaking at the event, highlighted the collective goal of safeguarding human lives, protecting communities and advancing peace and stability in the regions represented.

He said unwavering determination and collective effort was needed to confront the menace of improvised anti-personnel mines. He also underscored the significance of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines, also known as the Mine Ban Treaty.

The treaty seeks to end the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines through universal adherence, clearing mined areas, destroying stockpiled mines and assisting victims.

Dr. Bawumia expressed satisfaction with the 164 state parties, including Ghana, indicating successful implementation of the convention. However, he acknowledged the need for increased participation.

Citing data from Minesweepers, the Vice President revealed that an “estimated 110 million landmines are scattered globally, with removal costs ranging from US$300 to US$1000 per mine”.

The total expenditure for clearing all existing mines is projected to be between US$50billion to US$100billion.

The Landmine Monitor (2022) reported that states parties to the Mine Ban Treaty have destroyed over 55 million stockpiled anti-personnel mines, showcasing the financial commitment made globally toward implementing the convention.

Furthermore, Dr. Bawumia highlighted the grim statistics of landmine casualties in 2022, with 4,710 individuals killed or injured in 49 states. Civilian casualties constituted 85 percent, and children accounted for 49 percent of these victims.

The Vice President advocated urgency in addressing the detrimental presence of anti-personnel landmines worldwide. He pointed out that approximately 60 countries, including 24 states parties, are grappling with improvised mine contamination.

African nations, such as Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Nigeria and Togo, are confirmed or believed to be affected, exacerbating existing humanitarian and security challenges.

Dr. Bawumia stressed the grave threat posed by improvised anti-personnel mines to civilians in conflict-affected areas. These weapons indiscriminately maim and kill innocent individuals, disrupt livelihoods, impede socio-economic development and hinder efforts to achieve sustainable peace and security.

“Ghana recognises the urgent need for action and remains steadfast in its commitment to a world free from the scourge of landmines,” he reiterated.

The EU Ambassador to Ghana, Irchad Razaaly, on his part, stated that the EU considers that it is important to continue raising awareness of the obligations of states parties within the framework of the convention and to report the use of anti-personnel mines of an improvised nature.

He said many of these anti-personnel mines of improvised nature are being deployed by non-state armed groups.

“The European Union, both the European Commission and the European Union member-states, condemn in the strongest possible terms that Russia is using anti-personnel landmines in its war of aggression against Ukraine. Anti-personnel landmines pose a long-lasting threat to civilians and hinder humanitarian access.

“We call on Russia to refrain from using anti-personnel mines immediately,” he stated.

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