Ottawa Treaty

Not to be confused with Ottawa Conference.
Ottawa Treaty
(Mine Ban Treaty)
Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction


  States that are party to the Ottawa Treaty
Drafted 18 September 1997
Signed 3 December 1997
Location Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Effective 1 March 1999
Condition Ratifications by 40 states
Signatories 133
Parties 162 (Complete List)
Depositary Secretary-General of the United Nations
Languages Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish

The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, known informally as the Ottawa Treaty, the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, or often simply the Mine Ban Treaty, aims at eliminating anti-personnel landmines (AP-mines) around the world. To date, there are 162 States Parties to the treaty. One state (the Marshall Islands) has signed but not ratified the treaty, while 34 UN states including the United States, Russia and China are non-signatories, making a total of 35 United Nations states not party.[1]


1939 Landmines are first used widely in World War II.

1977 During the Geneva Convention, one provision is amended to prohibit the targeting of civilian populations by indiscriminate weapons in wartime.

1980 The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons limits the use of landmines against persons.

1991 Six NGOs supporting a ban of landmines begin organizing the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), established the following year.[2]

1993 The First International NGO Conference on Landmines is held in London, organised by the ICBL and acknowledging Jody Williams as the organization's coordinator. The US Department of State publishes its report Hidden Killer: The Global Problem with Uncleared Landmines,[2] and the ICBL issues the study Landmines: A deadly Legacy.

1995 The first national law to ban anti-personnel landmines is passed in Belgium.[2]

1996 Canada launches the "Ottawa Process" to ban landmines by hosting a meeting among like-minded, anti-landmine states.[2]

1997 The Ottawa Treaty is adopted, opened for signature, and signed by 122 states.[3] Jody Williams and the ICBL are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.[2]

1998 The treaty reaches its 40th ratification, triggering its entry into force the next year. The ICBL launches the Landmine Monitor initiative to verify compliance with the treaty.[2]

1999 The treaty becomes binding international law on 1 March 1999.[2]

2003 The first stockpile destruction deadlines are met by all states parties with stockpiles.[2]

2012 The ICBL marks its 20th anniversary.[2]


Treaty terms

Besides ceasing the production and development of anti-personnel mines, a party to the treaty must destroy its stockpile of anti-personnel mines within four years, although it may retain a small number for training purposes (mine-clearance, detection, etc.). Within ten years after ratifying the treaty, the country should have cleared all of its mined areas. This is a difficult task for many countries, but at the annual meetings of the States Parties they may request an extension and assistance. The treaty also calls on States Parties to provide assistance to mine-affected persons in their own country and to provide assistance to other countries in meeting their treaty obligations.[4][5]

The treaty covers only anti-personnel mines; it does not address mixed mines, anti-tank mines, remote-controlled claymore mines, anti-handling devices (booby traps), and other "static" explosive devices.

Destruction of stockpiles

Signatory nations have destroyed more than 48 million stockpiled mines since the treaty's entry into force on 1 March 1999. One hundred and fifty-seven (157) countries have completed the destruction of their stockpiles or declared that they did not possess stockpiles to destroy.[6]

Retention of landmines

Article 3 of the treaty permits countries to retain landmines for use in training in mine detection, mine clearance, or mine destruction techniques. 72 countries have taken this option. Of this group, 26 States Parties retain fewer than 1,000 mines. Only two have retained more than 10,000 mines: Turkey (15,100) and Bangladesh (12,500). A total of 83 States Parties have declared that they do not retain any antipersonnel mines, including 27 states that stockpiled antipersonnel mines in the past.[7]

Landmine-free countries

Through 2015, 29 countries had cleared all known mined areas from their territory: Albania, Bhutan, Bulgaria, Burundi, Republic of the Congo, Costa Rica, Denmark, Djibouti, France, Gambia, Germany, Guinea-Bissau, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Jordan, Republic of Macedonia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Rwanda, Suriname, Swaziland, Tunisia, Uganda, and Venezuela.[8] El Salvador finished clearing its landmines before joining the Treaty.

At the November–December 2009 Cartagena Summit for a Mine-Free World, Albania, Greece, Rwanda, and Zambia were also declared mine-free.[9] On 2 December 2009, Rwanda was declared free of landmines.[10] It followed a three-year campaign by 180 Rwandan soldiers, supervised by the Mine Awareness Trust and trained in Kenya, to remove over 9,000 mines laid in the country between 1990 and 1994.[10] The soldiers checked and cleared 1.3 square km of land in twenty minefields.[10] The official Cartagena Summit announcement came after the Rwandan Ministry of Defence's own announcement of the completion of the demining process on 29 November 2009.[11] Under Article 5 of the Ottawa Treaty, Rwanda was requested to become mine-free by 1 December 2010.[11]

On 18 June 2010, Nicaragua was declared free of landmines.[12]

Two more countries became free of landmines in 2011. On 14 June 2011, Nepal was declared a landmine-free zone, making it the second country (after China) to be landmine-free in Asia.[13] In December 2011, Burundi was declared landmine free.[14]

On 5 December 2012 at the 12th Meeting of the States Parties, six states declared themselves landmine-free. These were the Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Jordan, and Uganda.[15]

On 17 September 2015, Mozambique was declared free of land mines after the last of some nearly 171,000 had been cleared over 20 years.[16]

Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor

The Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor ("the Monitor") is an initiative providing research for the ICBL and the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), and acting as their de facto monitoring regime.

As an initiative of ICBL which was founded in 1998 through Human Rights Watch, the Monitor gives monitoring on the humanitarian development and uses of landmines, cluster munitions, and explosive remnants of war (ERW). It provides reports on all aspects of the landmine,cluster munitions, and ERW issues. It issues annual report updates on all countries in the world, keeps an international network with experts, provides research findings for all mediums, and remains flexible to adapt its reports to any changes. The Monitor has earned respect with its transparency whose states must be provided under the relevant treaties for independent reporting. Its main audiences are not only governments, NGOs, and other international organizations, but also media, academics and the public.[17]


The Convention gained 122 country signatures when it opened for signing on 3 December 1997 in Ottawa, Canada. Currently, there are 162 States Parties to the Treaty.[18] Thirty-four countries have not signed the treaty and one more has signed but did not ratify. The states that have not signed the treaty includes a majority of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: China, the United States, and Russia. In 2014, the United States declared that it will abide by the terms of the Treaty, except for landmines used on the Korean Peninsula.[19] South Korea, like North Korea, has not signed the treaty, believing the use of landmines to be crucial to the defense of their territory against the other.


Criticism from academics, security officials and diplomats is based on both the political process and the substance. The campaign for what became the Ottawa Treaty was led by a group of powerful non-governmental organizations, and instead of working within existing multilateral frameworks, including the Conference on Disarmament, based at the UN compound in Geneva (the Palais des Nations), an ad hoc framework was created that detoured around recognized governmental processes. This greatly weakened the eventual outcome, in part due to the challenge made to the sovereignty and responsibility of nation states for the defense of their citizens.[20]

Substantively, critics view the treaty as naive and idealistic, in attempting to erase the reality of security threats that lead armies and defense forces to rely on landmines for protection against invasion and terror attacks. As a result, ratification has been far from universal, and many of the states that do not currently intend to ratify the treaty possess large stockpiles of anti-personnel mines.[21] So far 35 countries have not signed the treaty; nonsignatories include the United States, Russia, China, Myanmar, United Arab Emirates, Cuba, Egypt, India, Israel, and Iran.[22]

In Finland, the National Coalition Party and the Finns Party proposed withdrawing from the treaty.[23][24] The stance is supported by Finnish MoD's report from 2003, which sees landmines as an effective weapon against a mechanised invasion force.[25]

Ukraine has also signaled that they might have to withdraw from the treaty due to military necessity.[26]

Opponents of banning anti-personnel mines give several reasons, among them that mines are a cheap and therefore cost-effective area denial weapon. Opponents claim that when used correctly, anti-personnel mines are defensive weapons that harm only attackers,[27] unlike ranged weapons such as ballistic missiles that are most effective if used for preemptive attacks. Furthermore, opponents claim that the psychological effect of mines increases the threshold to attack and thus reduces the risk of war.[28]

The Ottawa Treaty does not cover all types of unexploded ordnance. Cluster bombs, for example, introduce the same problem as mines: unexploded bomblets can remain a hazard for civilians long after a conflict has ended. A separate Convention on Cluster Munitions was drafted in 2008 and was adopted and entered into force in 2010. As of January 2016, there are 98 state parties of the CCM.[29] In theory, mines could be replaced by manually triggered Claymore mines, but this requires the posting of a sentry, which makes it much more expensive than using other indiscriminate weapons such as cluster bombs or artillery bombardment.

Opponents point out that the Ottawa Convention places no restriction whatever on anti-vehicle mines which kill civilians on tractors, on school buses, etc. The position of the United States is that the inhumane nature of landmines stems not from whether they are anti-personnel as opposed to antivehicle but from their persistence. The United States has unilaterally committed to never using persistent landmines of any kind, whether anti-personnel or anti-vehicle, which they say is a more comprehensive humanitarian measure than the Ottawa Convention. All US landmines now self-destruct in two days or less, in most cases four hours. While the self-destruct mechanism has never failed in more than 65,000 random tests, if self-destruct were to fail the mine will self-deactivate because its battery will run down in two weeks or less . That compares with persistent anti-vehicle mines which remain lethal for about 30 years and are legal under the Ottawa Convention.[30][31]

Little progress in actual reduction of mine usage has been achieved. In 2011, the number of landmines dispersed is higher than ever since 2004, landmines being dispersed in Libya, Syria, and Burma.[32]

Turkey reported that between 1957 and 1998, Turkish forces laid 615,419 antipersonnel mines along the Syrian border "to prevent illegal border crossings". These mines are killing Syrians stuck on the border or trying to cross near Kobanî. Turkey is required under the treaty to destroy all antipersonnel mines, but has missed deadlines. Human Rights Watch claims in its report that as of November 18, over 2,000 civilians were still in the Tel Shair corridor section of the mine because Turkey had been refusing entry for cars or livestock, and the refugees did not want to leave behind their belongings.[33]

Review conferences

Annual meetings

Annual meetings of the treaty member states are held at different locations around the world. These meetings provide a forum to report on what has been accomplished, indicate where additional work is needed and seek any assistance they may require.

UN General Assembly Annual Resolutions

A recurrent opportunity for States to indicate their support for the ban on antipersonnel mines is their vote on the annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution calling for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. UNGA Resolution 66/29, for example, was adopted on 2 December 2011 by a vote of 162 in favor, none opposed, and 18 abstentions.[58]

Since the first UNGA resolution supporting the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997, the number of states voting in favor has ranged from a low of 139 in 1999 to a high of 165 in 2010. The number of states abstaining has ranged from a high of 23 in 2002 and 2003 to a low of 17 in 2005 and 2006.

Of the 19 states not party that voted in support of Resolution 66/29 on 2 December 2011, nine have voted in favor of every Mine Ban Treaty resolution since 1997 (Armenia, Bahrain, Finland, Georgia, Oman, Poland, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and the United Arab Emirates); 10 that consistently abstained or were absent previously now vote in favor (Azerbaijan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lao PDR, Marshall Islands, Micronesia FS, Mongolia, Morocco, and Tonga). Somalia, now a State Party, was absent from the 2011 resolution, but has voted in favor in previous years.[59]

The number of states abstaining from supporting the resolution has ranged from a high of 23 in 2002 and 2003 to a low of 17 in 2010, 2005 and 2006. The group of states that could be described as most concerned about the security implications of the Mine Ban Treaty are the 15 states not party that have voted against consecutive resolutions since 1997: Cuba, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Libya (since 1998), Myanmar, North Korea (since 2007), Pakistan, Russia, South Korea, Syria, Uzbekistan (since 1999), the United States, and Vietnam (since 1998). [59]

Key figures in the making of the Ottawa Treaty

Letter-writers and non-governmental organizations

The Ottawa Anti-Personnel Mines Treaty would not likely have been possible without the sustained effort of thousands of global citizens writing their elected officials in the lead up to the treaty's creation and signing in 1997. A small number of core groups mobilized on the landmines problem worked closely with a wider variety of NGOs, including Churches, prominent Children's and Women's rights groups, disarmament and development groups, in order to produce concerted political pressure, as well as with the media to keep the issue in the forefront. Because of this unparalleled involvement of the global public, and their success in lobbying for this initiative, University Political Science and Law Departments frequently study the socio-historical initiatives that led to the Ottawa Process, arguing it is a leading modern example of the power of peaceful democratic expression and a method for mobilization on disarmament issues or more broadly.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Jody Williams

The organization the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and its founding coordinator, Jody Williams, were instrumental in the passage of the Ottawa Treaty, and for these efforts they jointly received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. However, since efforts to secure the treaty started over a decade before Ms. Williams involvement and the fact that the treaty was a joint effort of so many people from all over the world, including hundreds of influential political and private leaders, many felt that Ms. Williams should decline to personally benefit from the award of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. Against the wishes of every other board member and an outraged public, Ms. Williams kept the money, instead of contributing it to the cause of removing the landmines.

Mines Action Canada

Mines Action Canada grew out of the efforts of Canadian non-governmental agencies concerned about the rapidly spreading impact of landmines and cluster munitions. The group was successful in garnering positive Canadian government attention to the call for a ban by mobilizing Canadians to demand action. By 1996, sustained and growing citizen action led Minister Axworthy of the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to collaborate with Mines Action Canada and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. This in turn led to the Government of Canada challenging other countries to negotiate and sign a treaty banning ban landmines within one year. This call to action led directly to the signing of the "Convention on the Prohibition on the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction" commonly known as the 'mine ban treaty' one year later in December 1997. Mines Action Canada was hosted by Physicians for Global Survival, chaired by Valerie Warmington and coordinated by Celina Tuttle from the coalition's inception until after the treaty was signed.

Diana, Princess of Wales

Once in the final stages leading into the treaty, the Ottawa Treaty was ardently championed by Diana, Princess of Wales. In January 1997, she visited Angola and walked near a minefield to dramatize its dangers.[60] In January 1997, Angola's population was approximately 10 million and had about 10–20 million land mines in place from its civil war.[61] In August 1997, she visited Bosnia with the Landmine Survivors Network. Her work with landmines focused on the injuries and deaths inflicted on children. When the Second Reading of the Landmines Bill took place in 1998 in the British House of Commons, Foreign Secretary Robin Cook praised Diana and paid tribute to her work on landmines.[62]

Lloyd Axworthy

In his Canadian Foreign Affairs portfolio (1996–2000), Lloyd Axworthy became internationally known (and criticized in some quarters) for his advancement of the concept of human security and including the Ottawa Treaty, and the creation of the International Criminal Court. [63]

Bobby Muller

Robert O. (Bobby) Muller (born 1946) is an American peace advocate. He participated in the Vietnam War as a young soldier, and after returning from Vietnam, Muller began to work for veterans' rights and became a Peace activist. Since then, Muller founded Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) in 1978 and Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF) in 1980. The VVAF co-founded the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which won a 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.[64]

See also


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  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 "Timeline of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines" (PDF). ICBL. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  3. "Why the Ban". ICBL. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  4. ICBL, "Mine Ban Treaty: Victim Assistance,"
  5. ICBL, "Mine Ban Treaty: Other Obligations,"
  6. "Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention".
  7. Landmine Monitor Report 2012, p. 8.
  8. "Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention".
  9. ICBL, "Four New Countries Declared Mine-Free at Landmine Summit," (4 December 2009)
  10. 1 2 3 "Rwanda – first landmine-free country". BBC News. 2 December 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
  11. 1 2 "Rwanda: Country Declared Mine-Free". All Africa. 30 November 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
  12. Urquhart, Wendy (20 June 2010). "Nicaraguan landmines finally removed after 80s war". BBC. Retrieved 2010-06-25.
  13. "Nepal's PM detonates its last landmine". CNN. 15 June 2011.
  14. "Burundi declared landmine free" (Press release). Mines Advisory Group. 2011-12-02. Retrieved 2014-05-20.
  15. "Day 3 | Wednesday 5 December". AP Mine Ban Convention. 2013-03-01. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  17. "What is the Monitor?". Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
  18. Treaty Status, International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  20. Davenport, David (December 1, 2002). "The New Diplomacy". Policy Review.
  21. "Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor". Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  22. "English / Treaty Text in Many Languages / MBT / Treaty / Home - International Campaign to Ban Landmines". Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  25. "PUOLUSTUSMINISTERIÖN JALKAVÄKIMIINASELVITYSTYÖRYHMÄN VÄLIRAPORTTI" (PDF) (in Finnish). Finnish Ministry of Defence. 2003-12-19. Retrieved 2016-02-04.
  26. "Nearly two decades after leading role, US remains on sidelines of treaty banning landmines". The Boston Globe. 2014-06-22. Retrieved 2016-02-04.
  27. "Julkaisutyökalu | Eduskunta". Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  28. "Maamiinat säilytettävä | Helsingin Kansalliset Nuoret". Archived from the original on 2007-11-01. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  29. "Where global solutions are shaped for you | Disarmament | Signatories and Ratifying States". Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  34. 1 2 "Nairobi Summit on a Mine Free World". Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  35. "Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World". 2010-06-14. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  37. 1st Meeting of States Parties
  38. 2nd Meeting of States Parties
  39. 3rd Meeting of States Parties
  40. 4th Meeting of States Parties
  41. 5th Meeting of States Parties
  42. 6th Meeting of States Parties
  43. 7th Meeting of States Parties
  44. 8th Meeting of States Parties
  45. 9th Meeting of States Parties
  46. The Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World
  47. "". 10MSP. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  48. 10th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty
  49. "AP Mine Ban Convention: Eleventh Meeting of the States Parties". Retrieved 2016-11-11.
  50. "Twelfth Meeting of the States Parties". AP Mine Ban Convention. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  51. 12th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty
  52. "Thirteenth Meeting of the States Parties". AP Mine Ban Convention. Retrieved 2014-08-04.
  53. 13th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty
  54. The Maputo Review Conference on a Mine-Free World
  55. "The Third Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty | The Treaty | ICBL". Retrieved 2016-11-11.
  58. "Where global solutions are shaped for you | Disarmament | UNGA resolution on APLC". 2011-12-02. Retrieved 2013-09-29.
  59. 1 2 Landmine Monitor Report 2012, p. 12.
  60. Landler, Mark (7 May 2010). "White House Is Being Pressed to Reverse Course and Join Land Mine Ban". The New York Times.
  61. Angola's Landmines
  62. "Charity – Diana, Princess of Wales". Retrieved 2013-11-15.
  63. "Lloyd Axworthy". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 5 May 2014. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
  64. Simon, Cecilia Capuzzi (1 March 2006). "The Humanitarian: Bobby Muller". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2 April 2013.
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