The 15th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty (15MSP) concluded successfully on 1 December with important advances in the treaty's implementation and a strong commitment expressed by states and civil society to work together to reach a mine-free world by 2025.
Nearly 100 states and a strong delegation for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines began the week in Santiago with the troubling news of increased mine casualties and decreased funding for mine action. Spurred by the Landmine Monitor 2016 findings, many participants warned against complacency and the need to focus on country-specific solutions to address the legacy of landmines from past conflicts as well as the increased use of improvised landmines by non-state armed groups.
Early in the week, Poland's announcement that it had completed the destruction of its stockpiled landmines, before its deadline, inspired applause in the conference hall. The strong participation of landmine survivors, including 10 from Chile, reminded delegates of the urgency of their mission and ensured that discussions remained grounded in addressing the humanitarian impact of landmines.
The presence of delegates from Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan and Yemen underscored the importance of the Mine Ban Treaty to countries in the midst of both acute and prolonged conflict. With airports closed in Yemen, delegates traveled overland to Jordan before flying to Santiago-allowing the Yemeni delegation to report on their efforts to implement the treaty and to call on international support. A strong Colombian delegation encouraged participants with news of the successful peace process there and the important role that mine clearance has played in resolving the decades-old conflict.
Ukraine, another country in conflict, was an important focus of discussion during the week. The country's deadline for landmine clearance was 1 June 2016. For understandable reasons, Ukraine has not been able to complete clearance of landmines on its territory before that date. Had Ukraine applied for an extended deadline, this would have been approved by states. The ICBL remains concerned by Ukraine's ongoing violation of the Mine Ban Treaty but at the same time was gratified to see States Parties speaking with one voice to encourage Ukraine to return to compliance with Article 5 by submitting a request for an extended deadline.
Panel discussions during the 15MSP furthered efforts to improve policies and programs, including though the presentation of the integrated approach to addressing the needs and upholding the rights of mine survivors and by raising the profile for the importance of a gender perspective in all aspects of mine action, among others.
Warmly and skillfully hosted by Ambassador Marta Maurás Pérez of Chile representing H.E. Heraldo Muñoz, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the 15MSP contributed toward a mine-free world by 2025, demonstrating that this goal is achievable when states and civil society work together to tackle the challenges that landmines pose.