Highest global clearance for five years but 2025 target in doubt
Mine Action Review has launched Clearing the Mines 2021, its eighth annual report monitoring progress in global mine clearance and analysing performance of national programmes.
The report launch is in advance of the forthcoming Nineteenth Meeting of States Parties to the 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) on 15–19 November 2021, during which States and observers will gather both in The Hague and virtually to consider progress in ridding the world of anti-personnel mines.
According to Clearing the Mines 2021, a global total of 153.4 square kilometres of mined area was cleared of anti-personnel mines in 2020, with the destruction of almost 173,000 anti-personnel mines and more than 16,000 anti-vehicle mines. This is the highest worldwide total since 2015 and is a particularly impressive achievement against the backdrop of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions Chile and the United Kingdom both declared fulfilment of their Article 5 clearance obligations in the course of 2020. Argentina has not yet accepted the declaration of fulfilment by the United Kingdom, which pertains to the Falkland Islands/Malvinas over which both States claim sovereignty. But to the extent that all mined areas have been cleared on the islands,
Argentina is considered also to be no longer mine-affected.
Mauritania, which had previously declared fulfilment of its Article 5 obligations in 2018, reported newly discovered mined areas under its jurisdiction or control in 2020. In May 2021, Guinea-Bissau, which had declared completion of mine clearance in 2012, similarly reported that it had discovered previously unrecorded mined areas on its territory.
This leaves a global total of 56 States and three other areas (territories not recognised as States) that are still confirmed or suspected to have anti-personnel mined areas under their jurisdiction or control.Based on Mine Action Review’s assessment of the extent of contamination in affected States Parties, Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Iraq are massively contaminated (defined as covering more than 100km2 of land), while heavy contamination (covering more than 20km2 ) exists in Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Thailand, Turkey, and Yemen. In other affected States Parties, the extent of anti-personnel mine contamination is medium or light.
The largest clearance output was reported for Cambodia, which recorded almost 50km2 of clearance in 2020, according to information provided by the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA). Close behind was Croatia, which also achieved clearance of almost 50km2 of mined area during the year. In Afghanistan, recorded clearance dropped by 13% but was still more than 24km2 . The greatest number of mines destroyed in 2020 in a single country (43,157) was in Sri Lanka followed by Zimbabwe (26,911). Some 98% of global anti-personnel mine clearance in 2020 was in States Parties to the APMBC.
However, the Clearing the Mines 2021 report also highlights that implementation of Article 5 clearance obligations varies widely between States Parties. Of the 34 mine-affected States Parties as at October 2021, only two were firmly on track to meet their respective treaty deadlines: Oman (February 2025) and Sri Lanka (June 2028), with Zimbabwe also likely to meet its deadline (end 2025). In addition, despite failing to clear any mined area in 2020, Peru was still just on track to meet its end-2024 deadline. It was unclear whether Chad, Croatia, and BiH would complete clearance by their extended Article 5 deadlines of January 2025, March 2026, and March 2027, respectively.
The other 27 States Parties were either not clearly on track to fulfil Article 5 in time or were in violation of their obligations under the Convention. No clearance was recorded or reported for 2020 in a dozen States Parties. Both Eritrea and Senegal are in breach of their clearance obligations under Article 5 of the APMBC having made altogether inadequate progress in clearing mined areas under their jurisdiction or control. Furthermore, Eritrea is also in serious violation of the Convention for failing to have yet submitted a formal request to extend its Article 5 deadline which expired on 31 December 2020. There is also significant concern about the political will in DR Congo to fulfil its Article 5 obligations.
Lucy Pinches, the Mine Action Review’s Project Manager emphasises:
“It is of serious concern that so few affected States Parties are currently on track to complete mine clearance within their existing Article 5 deadlines. We are continuing to see a trend of States Parties that could and should have either completed mine clearance already or else be well on the path to completion, having to request significant extensions to their deadlines.” “This throws into doubt the extent to which affected States Parties are making progress towards meeting their commitment to complete clearance as soon as possible and to the fullest extent possible by 2025.”
Mine Action Review’s accompanying Guide to the Oslo Action Plan and results of 2021 monitoring: survey and clearance, shows a worryingly low rate of implementation of some indicators central to efficient and effective clearance programmes.
Lucy Pinches highlighted that, “According to Mine Action Review’s findings, only 11% of affected States Parties have established an accurate and evidence-based contamination baseline. Having an accurate understanding of the extent of contamination is crucial to be able to plan for completion. While 64% of affected States Parties had work plans of varying quality in place for Article 5 implementation, only 43% of States Parties reported annual updates and adjusted milestones in their treaty reporting in 2021.”
While mines remain ground they continue to pose a risk to lives and limbs, and deprive local communities of safe access to land. Affected States Parties have an obligation to address contamination as soon as possible. National Authorities must ensure that there is requisite political will to do so and must elaborate concrete action plans for survey and clearance of mined areas. Donors must remain committed to helping affected States reach completion.
Notes to editor:
Key Findings on pages 1–2 of the Clearing the Mines 2021 report.
Mine Action Review was launched in 2014 and conducts the primary research and analysis on landmine and cluster munition remnant contamination, survey, and clearance worldwide, including assessing fulfilment of clearance obligations by States Parties to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) and the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM).
Supported and published by Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), as an independent project, Mine Action Review collates and analyses mine action data globally from national authorities, clearance operators, the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and other key stakeholders.
Mine Action Review produces two annual reports, ‘Clearing the Mines’ and ‘Clearing Cluster Munition Remnants’, which provide information on contamination and progress in clearance for every State and other area affected by anti-personnel mines and/or cluster munition remnants.
The reports also contain country-specific analysis of the performance of national mine action programmes of affected States Parties to the APMBC and CCM, including accompanying Recommendations for Action.
The HALO Trust, Mines Advisory Group (MAG), and Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) form Mine Action Review’s Advisory Board.
Mine Action Review is funded by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and Global Affairs Canada.
Contact: Lucy Pinches, Project Manager, email: firstname.lastname@example.org