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Together for mine action: a multilateral success story

ONUC Indian Engineers looking for mines at the airstrip of Kongolo, 15 December 1962. UN Photo/BZ 

The global movement to ban anti-personnel mines is a pearl. The first words of the United Nations Charter are “We the people of the United Nations…” and they are the key to how the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention came into being.

Anti-personnel mines were banned because individuals were so disgusted by the images of innocent people, men, women and thousands of children, maimed by this weapon that they shouted out, demanding action be taken. They were joined by other individuals, and quickly a movement was born.

At that time, it was said that it would take 1000 years to eradicate landmines. That was less than 30 years ago; today 164 nations have signed up to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, hundreds of millions of mines have been destroyed or their fabrication halted. The clearance of known anti-personnel minefields could be completed within a decade.  

Working together, or, multilateral cooperation, is what made this possible. This story is being published to mark and celebrate the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action 2020. The designation of 4 April was another multilateral decision, in this case, decided by the General Assembly of the United Nations, to bring attention to the work being done globally to make a mine-free world a reality.  

*Click here to experience a brief visual history of mine action. Please note that you will be redirected to UNMAS-Shorthand on a third party website.