Land mines are controversial because they remain dangerous after the conflict in which they were deployed, killing and injuring civilians and rendering land impassable and unusable for decades. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines has sought to prohibit their use, culminating in the 1997 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 UN estimates that with current technology, it will take nearly 1,100 years to clear all the mines in the world.
“Unlike other weapons of war, landmines and unexploded ordnance are unique in that their destructiveness is indiscriminate, and long outlasts the conflicts for which they were used. They endanger generation after generation of civilians, especially children. Years after the battle is fought and over, landmines remain hidden in fields, forests, roads and footpaths — until someone treads unknowingly and triggers a deadly explosion, or a child finds and plays with an unexploded mortar. The danger of landmines and unexploded ordnance is exacerbated for children, who are intrigued by their sometimes colourful and curious designs. Butterfly mines and cluster bombs hold a fatal attraction for many young children. (UNICEF)
“Anti-personnel mines are designed to kill or injure enemy combatants as opposed to destroying vehicles. They are often designed to injure rather than kill in order to increase the logistical support (evacuation, medical) burden on the opposing force. Some types of anti-personnel mines can also damage the tracks or wheels of armored vehicles.” (Wikipedia)
The impact of landmines in Angola
Landmines leave no visible damage to the environment, but that is not to say that their impact is any less severe than desertification and deforestation in other parts of the world. Landmines, it could be argued, do not allow man to alter the soil by cutting down trees, extracting minerals, or dumping chemicals. However, by their very nature, landmines are a man made pollutant and adversely alter the environment for future generations. For example, in Angola thousands of miles of riverbanks, and tens of thousands of acres of farmland, pastures, and forest are now unusable. In addition, the landmines have lead to a large migration of people from the countryside to towns and cities. The increased numbers of people in certain parts of the country place a strain on the resources of the land. Areas where refugees have
been forced to move have been stripped of wood and wild game while water supplies have been depleted and contaminated leading to increases in reported cases of dysentery, malaria and cholera. In time the areas will be prone to desertification as the land is further stripped by the refugees in their attempts to survive. (Read more about it)
Under the Ottawa Treaty, signatory countries undertake not to manufacture, stockpile or use anti-personnel mines. As of 2009, it has been signed/accessioned by 156 countries. Thirty-eight states, including the People’s Republic of China, Russian Federation and the United States, are not party to the Convention.” (Wikipedia)
Picture: The signatory countries
The Ottowa Treaty
The Ottowa Treaty or the Mine Ban Treaty, formally the Convention on theProhibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their destruction, completely bans all anti-personnel mines (AP-mines). As of May 2009, there were 156 States Parties to the treaty. Two states have signed but not yet ratified while 37 states are not party to the Convention. In 2009, Rwanda became the first nation claimed to be landmine free.
Also check the International Campaign to Ban Landmines