162 countries are now States Parties to the Ottawa Convention, including all EU member states.
Its most important provisions are:
- a comprehensive prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of all types of anti‑personnel mines;
- an undertaking to destroy existing stocks within four years of the Convention’s entry into force in a given country (as an exception, a small number of anti‑personnel mines may be kept for the purpose of training mine‑clearance staff and for research into improving detection and destruction techniques);
- an undertaking to clear emplaced anti‑personnel mines within ten years of the Convention’s entry into force in a given country; this deadline can be extended by a decision taken by the States Parties at the annual Meeting of the States Parties;
- an undertaking to cooperate internationally on mine clearance (including technical support for affected States Parties), to provide civilians with information on the dangers posed by mines and to provide assistance for mine victims, in so far as possible;
- annual implementation reports by the States Parties.
The implementation of the Ottawa Convention is going according to plan. Trade in anti‑personnel mines has practically ceased, while the number of producing countries has fallen dramatically.
In order to implement the Ottawa Convention in Germany, a national Act implementing the Convention was passed, entering into force on 10 July 1998. Among other things, this Act criminalises the production, use and stockpiling of, as well as trade in, anti‑personnel mines, and thus complements the War Weapons Control Act.
Review Conferences and Meetings of States Parties
The Convention states that Meetings of the States Parties and Review Conferences are to be held annually. Informal intersessional meetings are also held every six months.
At the Fourteenth Meeting of the States Parties, which took place in Geneva from 30 November to 4 December 2015 and was chaired by Belgium, the States Parties reviewed the Convention’s procedures and status and approved applications from Cyprus, Ethiopia, Mauritania, Senegal and the Niger for extensions of their mine‑clearance deadlines. The next annual meeting will take place in Santiago (Chile) from 28 November to 2 December 2016.
The EU – the world’s largest donor to humanitarian landmine clearance
The goal of Germany and the EU member states is to ensure that the Ottawa Convention is applied globally and implemented rigorously. To that end, talks are initiated with countries that have yet to accede to the Convention.
As part of its commitment to a global ban on anti‑personnel mines, the German Government supports mine and ordnance clearance, especially in locations where mines and unexploded ordnance constitute an urgent humanitarian problem.
In 2015, Germany provided some 13.7 million euros in funding. Since 2013, the Federal Foreign Office has been supporting the destruction of stocks of anti‑personnel mines in Ukraine as part of a NATO project.
In the international context, the EU (the European Commission and the member states) is by far the largest donor to humanitarian mine clearance, the destruction of existing stocks, victim‑assistance projects, etc. Between 2010 and 2013, the EU provided around 500 million euros. Germany, as the largest EU contributor, also finances some 20 per cent of the contributions to humanitarian assistance provided by the European Commission in the field of humanitarian mine and ordnance clearance.