Ottawa marks 20th anniversary of landmine treaty
Casualties from landmines reduced from 20,000 each year to 5,000 since Ottawa Treaty adopted
It was 20 years ago that representatives from over 100 countries gathered in Ottawa to ban the use of landmines in war.
The agreement they signed has become known as the Ottawa Treaty.
"The mood in the city was electric for days," said Paul Hannon, the executive director of Mines Action Canada. He was there the day it was signed, but said he couldn't fit into the chamber because there were so many people.
All the church bells in the city rang at the same time to mark the significance.- Paul Hannon, Mines Action Canada
"All the church bells in the city rang at the same time to mark the significance," he recalled.
Since that cold December day in 1997, the treaty has now been signed by 162 countries, and 29 countries once dotted with the deadly devices have become officially mine-free.
"Basically every country lives by it," Hannon told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning on Monday.
Though the weapons that once killed 20,000 people each year have been outlawed by most nations, IEDs — improvised explosive devices — are still hand-manufactured in some regions. Even so, casualties from such explosives have now dropped to 5,000 a year.
There remain just over 30 countries that have yet to sign the treaty, and Hannon said there's still more ground to cover.
"You don't hear about landmines on a daily basis anymore because we've had this effect," he said, "[But there is] more work to be done."
With files from Ottawa Morning