Mine action contributes to peace, security and development. It is a fundamental prerequisite for humanitarian action, peace processes, security and socioeconomic development in the affected communities. Switzerland is committed to a world free of anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war.
Switzerland provides funding of around CHF 16–18 million every year to support international political efforts, specific projects in affected countries and the secondment of experts from the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport, placing it among the fifteen largest mine action donor countries in the world. About half of these funds are channelled to the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD). At the same time, Switzerland is committed to ensuring that the States Parties implement the relevant conventions and meet their obligations under these international treaties.
Mine action aims to reduce the dangers of anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war to a level where people can live safely again. Switzerland’s Mine Action Strategy includes:
- prevention through the dissemination of information about the dangers of mines and danger zones;
- clearing of anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war;
- victim assistance, including rehabilitation and the social and economic reintegration of survivors;
- advocacy for a total ban on anti-personnel mines, cluster munition and other explosive remnants of war.
To implement its Mine Action Strategy, Switzerland works closely with non-governmental organisations like Geneva Call, the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining GICHD, the Cluster Munition Coalition, the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Switzerland has ratified the international conventions banning anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions.
The convention prohibits the development, production, use, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions. More than 100 states, including Switzerland (July 2012), have ratified the convention.
Following ratification, Switzerland adapted its War Material Act accordingly. By 2018, Switzerland had eliminated its stockpiles of cluster munitions .
The convention bans the production, use, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines. More than 160 states have ratified it to date. The States Parties undertake to destroy their stockpiles within four years of ratifying the convention and to clear their sovereign territory of all anti-personnel mines within 10 years.
Switzerland ratified the convention in March 1998, one of the first states to do so. Switzerland destroyed the last of its anti-personnel mines in 1999.
30 years of war and conflict in Cambodia have left the country with an estimated three to four million landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war. They continue to claim countless lives and hinder economic and sustainable development.
Mine action makes large tracts of land safe and habitable, enabling people to return to their land and farm their fields again.
As one Cambodian farmer explains: “Before the mines were cleared, I lived in constant fear. We used to burn the mines but this only put our lives at greater risk. Now I can farm my fields safely again.” Many other Cambodians have the same story to tell.