On this international mine awareness day, Belgium reaffirms its unfailing support for the fight against anti-personnel mines, indiscriminate weapons that still cause too many victims around the world today.
Through the Ottawa Convention, 164 states have pledged never to use these weapons. Other states have instituted voluntary moratoria, demonstrating the far-reaching impact of this Convention even beyond its own members. The few states that still justify the use of anti-personnel mines place themselves outside the international norm. A world without anti-personnel mines in 2025 is an achievable goal. An additional effort is necessary to universalize the Ottawa Convention and Belgium is contributing to this goal through the multiple demarches undertaken at high level by HRH Princess Astrid, Special Envoy of the Convention.
Unfortunately, the number of victims has increased in recent years, in particular due to improvised explosive devices used mainly by non-state actors. The targeting of the civilian population and the multiple decoy techniques used demonstrate that these devices are the coward’s weapon. A firm reaction is needed.
Beyond this worrying development, the legacy of mines from past conflicts must be addressed. The lack of resources and the difficulties on the ground make it a considerable challenge. Belgium is contributing to the solution, thanks to the action of its deminers and its contributions to organizations active in mine clearance. It promotes innovation, a key element to accelerate mine clearance. In this perspective, our country supports projects such as the use of drones in mine action in Chad or mine clearance by mechanical means in Fallujah, Iraq.
Demining is an essential condition for the delivery of humanitarian aid, the return of refugees and post-conflict reconstruction. Every household has the right to a life free from the threat of landmines. Minefields must be transformed into playgrounds or agricultural fields. Each mine victim has the right to receive care and support enabling them to lead a dignified life.