Antipersonnel Landmines

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Credit: Bonnie Docherty, 2006

Antipersonnel landmines, which are placed under or on the ground, are designed to explode “by the presence, proximity or contact of a person.” They cannot distinguish between combatants and civilians and cause thousands of civilian casualties every year. They have also interfered with economic development and contributed to forced displacement. The concept of “humanitarian disarmament” originated in the groundbreaking Ottawa Process that was initiated to end this suffering. The process involved a partnership of a like-minded states led by Canada, international organizations, and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), a global civil society coalition. The resulting 1997 Mine Ban Treaty prohibits the production, stockpiling, transfer, and use of antipersonnel landmines. It also obliges states parties to destroy their stockpiles, clear mined areas, and provide international support to assist victims. The ICBL and then-coordinator Jody Williams received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for their role in the creation of the Mine Ban Treaty.