8 February 2020   Leave a comment

One hundred and sixty-four countries (but not the US, Russia, China, or Iran) have signed the UN’s Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, more commonly known as the Ottawa Treaty. The Convention recognizes that land mines often remain after a conflict is over and pose serious threats to civilians and animals. Moreover, the Convention acknowledges that land mines are not particularly useful military weapons. Even though the US did not sign the convention, President Obama made clear in 2014 that “we’re going to continue to work to find ways that would allow us to ultimately comply fully and accede to the Ottawa Convention.”  The Trump Administration, however, has changed the policy and has given military commanders the right to use landmines under circumstances on the Korean peninsula. The Land Mine Monitor reports that casualties from land mines continues to be a serious global problem:

“In 2018, the Monitor recorded 6,897 people were killed or injured by mines/ERW (Explosive remnants of war)—3,059 people were killed, 3,837 people were injured, and for one casualty the survival status was unknown.

“The continuing high total was influenced by casualties recorded in countries facing armed conflict and large-scale violence, particularly Afghanistan, Mali, Myanmar, Nigeria, Syria, and Ukraine. Accurate data gathering for active conflicts, however, remains challenging.

“Although the 2018 total was less than those of the three previous years, it was still almost double the lowest determined annual number of 3,457 casualties in 2013.

“For the third consecutive year, in 2018, the highest number of annual casualties was caused by improvised mines (3,789). This was also the year with the most improvised mine casualties recorded to date.

“Casualties in 2018 were identified in 50 states and other areas, of which 32 are States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, and in three other areas.

“The vast majority of recorded landmine/ERW casualties were civilians (71%) where their status was known, a slight decrease in the ratio over recent years.

“In 2018, children accounted for 54% of all civilian casualties where the age was known, an increase of seven percentage points from the 2017 annual total, and 12 percentage points in 2016.

“As in previous years, in 2018, the vast majority of child casualties where the sex was known were boys (84%).

“The Monitor has recorded more than 130,000 mine/ERW casualties since its global tracking began in 1999, including some 90,000 survivors.”

Land mines are brutal instruments of war, largely ineffective in the guerrilla wars that typify conflict in the 21st century.

Jonathan Masters has written a very good background on the conflict in Ukraine. Ukraine became an independent (and nuclear) state in 1991 after the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In 1994 Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons and returned them to Russia after the signing of the Budapest Memorandum. That document stipulated that Ukraine, a nuclear power at that time, would give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees. “The US, Great Britain and Russia welcomed the decision of the Kyiv regime to accede to the non-proliferation agreement and pledged, among other things, to respect the independence and “existing borders” of Ukraine.” That agreement was violated by Russia in 2014 when it invaded Crimea and started a rebellion in the Donbas region of Ukraine. That action precipitated the sanctions against Russia by the European Union and the US, which has not altered Russian behavior at all. It is also the reason why the arms shipments to Ukraine highlighted in the recent impeachment proceedings against US President Trump.

Posted February 8, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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