Speaking at the Conference of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention in Geneva, Afghanistan’s CEO Abdullah Abdullah said the Mine Action Program in Afghanistan has cleared 3,000 square kilometers of land and destroyed over 19 million landmines and explosive remnants of war since the commencement of its humanitarian demining operations in 1989.
The CEO said Afghanistan has been the victim of anti-personnel mines for forty years.
“Coming from a country that has for four decades been the victim of landmines, I am honored to be with you here in Geneva, sharing our focus and commitment to prohibit the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines,” he said.
“My long-standing relation with the Convention is not only Afghanistan-specific, but it also encompasses a global concern, wherever it impacts the lives of human beings who face this terrible device, wherever they may be. When used, a landmine does not see boundaries, nor does it differentiate between its victims. That is why we need a global perspective and approach to make countries and all armed groups, whatever their affiliation, realize that it is inhuman and illegal to deploy landmines,” said Abdullah.
He said Afghanistan is committed to completing the destruction of the anti-personnel mines in the country by March of 2023.
“It is also struggling to counter the use of improvised anti-personnel mines and other Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), which are a weapon of choice used by terrorist groups and outfits such as the Taliban and local IS/Daesh cells,” said Abdullah.
He in turn called on the international community to use all legal tools and instruments to not only work on the ban of these devices, but also investigate and prosecute under international law - when it applies - the suppliers, manufacturers and facilitators of IEDs, whether state or non-state.
According to Abdullah, the death toll and suffering caused by IEDs in Afghanistan, whether targeting civilians or security personnel, is staggering and should raise many questions about their origins, raw material procurement, transfer and facilitation.
He said Afghanistan sees many incidents where thousands of families are on the move, either fleeing conflict and difficult conditions, or who are new returnees, looking to resettle after having spent years as refugees.
The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines is the cornerstone of the international effort to end the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines.
The Convention was adopted in 1997 and entered into force on 1 March 1999.
To date, 164 States have formally agreed to be bound by the Convention.
The Convention provides a framework for mine action, seeking both to end existing suffering and to prevent future suffering. It bans the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines.
In addition, States that accede to the Convention accept that they will destroy both stockpiled and emplaced anti-personnel mines, and assist the victims of landmines.