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close this bookICRC Overview 1999 - Landmines Must Be Stopped (International Committee of the Red Cross , 1999, 40 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentForeword
View the documentLegal background
View the documentVictim assistance
View the documentMine awareness
View the documentMine clearance
View the documentMain sources


In 1997, the anti-landmine work of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and various governments concerned culminated in the successful adoption of a new international humanitarian law treaty banning anti-personnel mines. Subsequently signed by 123 States by the end of 1997, the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (more commonly known as the “Ottawa treaty”) represents a true victory for humanity in the continuing struggle to alleviate the humanitarian suffering caused by the use of millions of antipersonnel mines in dozens of countries around the world.

The ICRC became heavily involved in the mines issue at the beginning of the 1990s as a result of the experiences of its field staff, especially surgeons who were treating increasing numbers of mine victims, including an appalling proportion of civilians. An international symposium on landmines, held in Montreux in April 1993, brought together legal, medical and military experts from interested governments, agencies and organizations. In February 1994, following my public call for a total ban on anti-personnel mines, the ICRC launched its first ever public advocacy campaign against landmines using the slogan “Landmines must be stopped”. Using a combination of public and private lobbying supported by powerful images and data on numbers of mine victims, the campaign has worked with interested National Societies to raise awareness of the mines problem and to persuade governments that the only effective solution to the epidemic of mine injuries is the total prohibition of anti-personnel mines.

The strength and effectiveness of the international effort against landmines has largely derived from the close cooperation between the Movement’s landmines campaign and the ICBL, with a number of National Societies playing an active role in both. It was through this remarkable effort that the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction entered into force on 1 March 1999. The treaty’s universalization and full implementation remains a priority for the entire Movement, and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have a key role to play in providing advice on national legislative measures needed to implement the treaty’s provisions. Each State adhering to the Convention will incur specific obligations that will become formally binding from the date of entry into force of the Convention for that State. In particular, National Societies can actively promote the practical implementation of the obligation which will be faced by States in a position to do so to support assistance to mine victims and mine awareness programmes. Furthermore, in order to make the prohibition of anti-personnel mines truly universal, continuing efforts will be required by all components of the Movement to convince non-signatory States to adhere to the Convention as soon as possible. The ICRC and the Movement must also continue to address the impact of anti-personnel mines by implementing preventive and curative programmes.

It is my profound hope that the collective efforts of governments, international and regional organizations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and non-governmental organizations will ensure that future generations are spared the horrors of anti-personnel mines.

Cornelio Sommaruga
President International Committee of the Red Cross


Powerful images and hard-hitting text back up the Movements landmine campaign.


If this boy had been injured by someone there would be an investigation to find the person responsible.

Unfortunately there will be no investigation.

No-one will be brought to justice.

Because this boy was injured by a landmine.

Just another victim of a weapon that claims dozens of new victims every day.

A weapon that cannot identify its target (the vast majority of its victims are innocent civilians).

A weapon that, once detonated, will drive dirt and fragments deep into the wound so that further amputations are often needed.

A weapon that is particularly cruel on children whose bodies, being smaller and closer to the blast, are more likely to sustain serious injury.

But the suffering doesn’t stop there. The repercussions of a landmine explosion can spread far beyond the victim.

The severe disabilities and psychological trauma that follow the blast mean these children will have to be looked after for many years.

The economic cost is also high.

A child injured at the age of ten will need about 25 artificial limbs during their lifetime.

That is why the International Committee of the Red Cross is working so hard to help victims and eradicate the scourge of landmines.

Huge steps have been taken towards a total ban.

In December 1997, 123 countries signed the Ottawa Treaty.

This treaty prohibits the development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of anti-personnel mines.

More countries are still being urged to sign, while those that have signed are being encouraged to ratify the Ottawa Treaty so that it becomes international law.

As long as there are landmines out there, this work will continue.

The landmine isn’t being ignored. Neither must its victims.





John Rodsted/ICRC