Sri Lanka joins the Ottawa Treaty

On December 13, 2017, Sri Lanka joined the Ottawa treaty banning antipersonnel landmines.

This makes Sri Lanka the 163rd country to become a State Party to the Convention.

Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon) is a tropical island in South Asia that lies off the southern tip of India. In 1983 a long Sri Lankan civil war arose out of ethnic tensions between the Sinhalese majority and Tamil minority in the northeast. In 2009, after 26 years, the devastating conflict finally ended allowing for the healing and reintegration process that Sri Lanka needs to thrive as a nation.

The fighting in the northern and eastern districts left a legacy of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) that continue to threaten communities, preventing them from using their land safely for building homes or growing crops and often people have to cross minefields or use mined paths to collect water or firewood.

By joining the treaty, Sri Lanka has agreed to destroy all stockpiled anti-personnel mines it owns and/or controls and must also continue its efforts to clear the devices and assist victims. Joining the treaty is especially significant for Sri Lanka because antipersonnel mines were used by both sides during the civil war and demining efforts have became a vital part of rebuilding Sri Lankan lives and re-establishing their livelihoods.

The Sri Lankan Government has set a target of being mine-free by 2020. With international support, hopefully they can attain this goal. APOPO became a full member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the Cluster Munitions Coalition (ICBL- CMC) civil society network in May 2014. We are very proud of Sri Lanka for stepping up to join the treaty and show a strong commitment to peace for their people.

Sri Lanka is a great example for other mine-affected countries in the area, and reaffirms the concept of a mine-free world. Now that Sri Lanka has signed the treaty, India, Nepal, and Pakistan are the only countries in Southeast Asia to remain outside the ban.