“Increase in recorded casualties is raising an alarm”

Interview: Loren Persi, global victim assistance coordinator, Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor

shreerupa

Shreerupa Mitra-Jha | December 3, 2016


#World War I   #World War II   #Human Rights Watch   #Landmines   #Letter from Europe   #London  

How effective is the Mine Ban Treaty since most of the big states are not yet signatories to it?

The Mine Ban Treaty has created a very strong norm on the prohibition of the use of landmines. Actually, 80 percent of the world’s countries [are signatories to] the Ban Treaty and acting on it. Even among those relatively few states that have  not yet got on board the treaty, use is extremely rare. As we see in 2015-16 there were only three such states. So I would say that the treaty is enormously effective. In these times of conflict, compared to the 1990 the contrast in terms of both use of mines and casualties is dramatic, and the treaty in purpose and principle can take the credit for effectively preventing greater suffering and catastrophe for civilian populations.

Can you elaborate a bit for our readers from country experiences the long-term dangers of landmines? Reports say some of the IEDs from World War II are still blowing up.

Landmines and other explosive remnants from past conflicts including those in the 1960s and even WWII do remain persistent hazards and require clearance. That’s one reason why landmines had to be banned, because not only are they unable to discriminate between civilians and combatants at any time, they also remain causing death and injuries even long after conflicts have ended.

Your report says that India, along with Pakistan, Russia, China and the US, is among the biggest stockpilers of landmines. There is also a listing of India, Pakistan, Myanmar and South Korea as active producers of landmines. So where are these weapons most frequently used since none of these states are in direct conflict with any other state, except, perhaps, Russia with Ukraine?

So strong is the mine ban norm that most countries not parties to the treaty, the ones that wanted to keep the option to produce anti-personnel mines open, don’t actually do so. And those even fewer states that are most likely producing mines, India, Pakistan, and South Korea, with the exception of Myanmar, are not using them. Those countries with stockpiles of anti-personnel mines would do better to join the treaty and ensure the full destruction of stockpiled mines – the consequences of use are too great and the international stigma against using mines is very strong. In the general public opinion, they are no longer considered a legitimate weapon.

There has been a whopping 75 percent increase in casualties from landmines in 2015 over 2014. Where has the sharpest increase been and by which countries or NSAGs?

The increase in recorded casualties is raising an alarm, a wake-up call really. More action is needed to clear existing minefields and help the victims and to more widely enforce the principles of the ban. The sharpest increases in mine/ERW casualties were recorded in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen in armed conflicts. Many landmine casualties in Syria in 2015 were identified during extensive survey of conflict-injured persons from Syria, including Syrian refugees from the neighbouring countries. The vast majority of casualties in Libya were wounded people registered at hospitals in Tripoli. Databases on mine/ERW casualties do not attribute responsibility to a user or perpetrator, but the seeming increase in use of improvised mines by NSAGs in the most affected countries – and here I am also thinking of Afghanistan – appears to have definitely contributed to the current situation.

Is there an ethical responsibility of state parties involved in conflicts in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine to help clear up fields after an active conflict is over?

All countries have both moral and normative responsibilities to ensure the protection and safety of affected populations and assist the victims, those involved in conflicts, those with contamination and casualties and the rest of the concerned international community. States parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, including Yemen and Ukraine, also have treaty-based responsibilities to clear mines, help victims and understand the extent of the problem in order to address their demining obligations by meeting completion deadlines.
 

Comments

 

Other News

Making sense of facts – and alternative facts

The Art of Conjuring Alternate Realities: How Information Warfare Shapes Your World By Shivam Shankar Singh and Anand Venkatanarayanan HarperCollins / 284 pages / Rs 599 Professor Noam Chomsky, linguist and public intellectual, has often spoken of &ls

The Manali Trance: Economics of Abandoning Caution in the Time of Coronavirus

The brutal second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India has left a significant death toll in its wake. Health experts advise that the imminent third wave can be delayed by following simple measures like wearing a mask and engaging in social distancing. However, near the end of the second wave, we witnesse

Govt considers fixing driving hrs of commercial vehicles

Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has emphasised deciding driving hours for truck drivers of commercial vehicles, similar to pilots, to reduce fatigue-induced road accidents. In a Na

Telecom department simplifies KYC processes for mobile users

In a step towards Telecom Reforms which aim to provide internet and tele connectivity for the marginalised section, the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communica

Mumbai think tank calls for climate action

Raising concerns over rising seawater levels and climate change, Mumbai First, a 25-year-old public-private partnership policy think tank, has written letters to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, minister for environment and climate change, tourism and protocol, Aditya Thackeray and Mumbai munic

Creation of ‘good bank’ as important as ‘bad bank’ for NPA management

After the recent announcement of the government guarantee for Security Receipts (SRs) to be issued by a public sector-owned National Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd (NARCL), there is a surge of interest around this desi version of a super bad bank. The entity will acquire around ₹2 trillion bad debts fr

Visionary Talk: Gurcharan Das, Author, Commentator & Public Intellectual on key governance issues


Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter