Mapping the Ratification Status of the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction

Arianah Bell, Chekwube Okunowo & Maxwell Patterson

In this post, we analyze the ratification status of the Anti-Personnel Landmines Convention. This treaty was adopted by the “Diplomatic Conference on an International Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Land Mines at Oslo on September 18, 1997” and it entered into force on March 1, 1999, after 40 states ratified the instrument. 

The treaty’s main goals are to prevent the harm to human health and security caused by anti-personnel landmines by prohibiting the manufacture and use of anti-personnel landmines, requiring the destruction of existing stockpiles of anti-personnel landmines, obligating the clearing of previously mined areas, and also providing support for victims of anti-personnel landmines.

The following choropleth map, created using the ggplot2 package for R, helps us understand United Nations (UN) member states’ support for this treaty/convention. Using data from the UN Treaty Collection’s website, we classify states according to the following categories. “No action” states are those which have not signed or ratified the treaty. A state party is classified as a state that has ratified the treaty or acceded to its rules and a signatory state applies to states which have signed but have not ratified the instrument. 

As the map shows, a majority of UN members have ratified this convention. Why have some states failed to sign or ratify this instrument? First among the explanations for the non-ratification of the treaty is the perception of the threat of imminent invasion by close neighbors. Anti-personnel mines are seen as useful in denying territory to an enemy and are therefore used in cases of active conflict or border tensions.

A second barrier to ratification is the convention’s provision requiring state parties to destroy all anti-personnel mines in the ground “10 years following its entry into force for that country.” Mine clearing is a complex and expensive endeavor and many countries lack the funds or expertise to meet this requirement. Similarly, some states with large stockpiles of landmines have refused to ratify the treaty until the international community is willing to provide them with the necessary financial and technical support to destroy these stockpiles. This is Mongolia’s current position.

The Anti-Personnel Landmines Convention is one of the UN’s landmark disarmament treaties. It has successfully established a global regime that has de-legitimized the production, use, and stockpiling of these weapons. States, working alongside civil society, have been able to use this instrument to pressure third-party states to rethink their views on landmines and limit their use. Thus, this treaty has already saved thousands of lives, while providing assistance to individuals and communities scarred by landmines. 

Want to learn more about this legal instrument?

Data on this convention’s ratification status is available on the World Politics Data Lab’s GitHub page. The most recent dataset was uploaded to the repository on October 25, 2022.

For more information on the convention’s history, please refer to the following academic writings:

  • Anderson, Kenneth (2000). “The Ottawa Convention Banning Landmines, The Role of International Non-Governmental Organizations and the Idea of International Civil Society,” European Journal of International Law, 11(1): 91-120.
  • Thakur, Ramesh and Maley, William (1999). “The Ottawa Convention on Landmines: A Landmark Humanitarian Treaty in Arms Control”, Global Governance, 5(3): 273-302.

About the authors:

Arianah Bell  is a senior majoring in political science at Drew University.

Chekwube Okunowo is a junior majoring in International Relations at Drew University.

Maxwell Patterson is a  senior majoring in political science at Drew University. 

Editor’s note: This post is part of a long-term project. Students enrolled in Drew University’s Semester on the United Nations, Principles in International Law and International Human Rights have been and will be collecting data on the ratification status of treaties deposited in the United Nations Treaty Collection. For more information on this project and its learning goals, click here.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *