The "Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction", colloquially known as the Ottawa Treaty, came into force on 1st March 1999. The Treaty obliges countries to destroy stockpiles within four years, to clear minefields within ten years and to assist mine victims, while sharing expertise in the process, and it requires governments to report annually on progress. The Treaty is a tribute to the co-operation of the many participating governments, not the least that of Canada which started the process by calling a meeting of pro-ban governments in October 1996.
Many people are concerned that influential countries such as the United States, China, India and Pakistan are not behind the Ottawa Treaty. Those who worked for it believed that getting a good text, with no exceptions to the text for particular states, was more important than getting every country on board. It is hoped that those governments not so far behind the Treaty will be encouraged, or shamed, into signing and ratifying it.
Monitoring the implementation of the Treaty, including the ban on the production, stockpiling and use, de-mining, the destruction of existing stocks, and assistance to mine victims or survivors, is vital. This is not something that is being left to governments, and concerned organisations are playing their part. Such monitoring is assisted by the annual reports the Treaty obliges governments to make to the United Nations. These give details of mine stocks, previous exports and minefields, as well as progress reports on destruction, clearance and conversion of mine-production facilities.
CAAT played a leading role in the UK Working Group on Landmines which campaigned for the Treaty. Now called Landmine Action, it co-ordinates the work of about fifty UK non-governmental organisations and has detailed information on the Ottawa Treaty and landmines generally. It is UK arm of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, and a founding member of the Cluster Munition Coalition.