Getting the Mines out of the Ground: An update on progress towards compliance with Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty

One of the key provisions of the Mine Ban Treaty is the requirement of all state parties to destroy all of the anti-personnel mines within their territorial control.  Stockpiles of landmines are to be destroyed within four years of the Treaty’s entry into force for the country (per Article 4) and landmines in the ground are to be destroyed within ten years (per Article 5). The process of removing mines from the ground is slow and requires tremendous concentration and precision (who would want to walk across an improperly or hastily cleared minefield?).  It is also a costly process with the usual figure quoted being $100 per mine removed from the ground. 

In general African members of Mine Ban Treaty are not making as good progress on their demining as European or American member, but they are making better progress than Asian members.  More than a quarter of African states have completed their demining requirements, but almost half have been forced to request extensions as allowed under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty.  To date, no Asian state has completed the demining of its territory and almost two-thirds of Asian states have requested extensions.  Also important to note, almost all African states are party to the Mine Ban Treaty whilst less than half of the states of Asia have signed the Treaty (and those that have represent only a small portion of the Asian continent since Russia, India and China – amongst many others – remain outside the Mine Ban Treaty framework).

So that’s good news, right?  Of course, but let’s take a closer look at those African states that still need to complete demining.  Two countries, Chad and Zimbabwe, have had to request second extensions after they were unable to complete demining within the period allowed under their original extension. Zimbabwe’s ability to meet its revised deadline is contingent on receiving foreign assistance (a difficult ask considering the sanctions on Mugabe’s regime); I am not sure about Chad’s particular situation, but the fact that the Darfur conflict continues along Chad’s eastern border suggests that landmine and UXO contamination might be continuing.

Three countries have looming demining deadlines: Republic of Congo (November 1, 2011), Guinea-Bissau (January 1, 2012) and Uganda (August 1, 2012).  Both Guinea-Bissau and Uganda have already requested and received extensions to complete demining activities so the pressure on them to complete demining by these deadlines will be significant.  The extent of landmine contamination, if any exists at all, in the Republic of Congo is unclear to me at the moment.  In the coming weeks, I will review all three countries’ demining progress and activities and try to forecast whether or not they will be successful in meeting their Article 5 obligations by the coming deadlines.

Also, three countries – Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Eritrea – have submitted extension requests for consideration at the next Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty to be held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from November 28th to December 2nd, 2011.   I will try to review each of the extension requests and provide my commentary on their substance and merit.

Below is a little more background including the Article 5.1 from the Mine Ban Treaty and some basic data on Article 5 compliance for African states.

Michael P. Moore, August 19, 2011.

Article 5: Destruction of anti-personnel mines in mined areas

1.Each State Party undertakes to destroy or ensure the destruction of all anti-personnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control, as soon as possible but not later than ten years after the entry into force of this Convention for that State Party.

Country

Original Deadline for Article 5 Compliance

First Extension

Second Extension

Extension Pending for Consideration at 11MSP?

Demining Completed?

Algeria

1 APR 2012

 

 

YES

 

Angola

1 JAN 2013

 

 

 

 

Burundi

1 APR 2014

 

 

 

 

Chad

1 NOV 2009

1 JAN 2011

1 JAN 2014

 

 

Congo, Republic of

1 NOV 2011

 

 

 

 

Congo, Democratic Republic of

1 NOV 2012

 

 

YES

 

Djibouti

1 MAR 2009

 

 

 

YES

Eritrea

1 FEB 2012

 

 

YES

 

Ethiopia

1 JUNE 2015

 

 

 

 

Gambia

1 MAR 2013

 

 

 

 

Guinea-Bissau

1 JAN 2011

1 JAN 2012

 

 

 

Malawi

1 MAR 2009

 

 

 

YES

Mauritania

1 JAN 2011

1 JAN 2016

 

 

 

Nigeria

1 MAR 2012

 

 

 

YES*

Rwanda

1 DEC 2010

 

 

 

YES

Senegal

1 MAR 2009

1 MAR 2016

 

 

 

Sudan

1 APR 2014

 

 

 

 

Swaziland

1 JUN 2009

 

 

 

YES

Tunisia

1 JAN 2010

 

 

 

YES

Uganda

1 AUG 2009

1 AUG 2012

 

 

 

Zambia

1 AUG 2011

 

 

 

YES

Zimbabwe

1 MAR 2009

1 JAN 2011

1 JAN 2013

 

 

* Nigeria has declared that it has completed its demining requirements, but significant UXO contamination remains from several conflicts.

Total Mine-Affected State Parties in Africa: 22

Number of African State Parties to complete demining as required under Article 5: 7

Number of African State Parties Requesting an Extension: 9

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