Antipersonnel landmines are explosive devices designed to injure or kill people.
They are placed under, on or near the ground, where they lie hidden for years or even decades until a person or an animal sets them off.
Landmines wound and kill wound indiscriminately, posing a severe risk to civilian populations, peacekeepers and aid workers—sometimes decades after a conflict has ended.
The vast majority of landmine victims are civilians
Year after year, Landmine Monitor reports that civilians account for 70 to 85 percent of casualties. Landmines are still killing and maiming ordinary people every day. This is not just during a conflict–most of the countries where casualties are reported are no longer at war.
Thanks to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, landmine use has dropped dramatically in recent years. While some countries are still producing them, the global trade has almost entirely halted. However, more than 75 countries and territories are essentially polluted by landmines and/or explosive remnants of war. The weapon poses a significant and lasting threat to communities living in contaminated areas.
Antipersonnel landmines were used systematically in international and internal conflicts from the Second World War onwards. Originally intended to protect anti-tank minefields from removal by enemy soldiers, the weapons were designed to maim rather than kill an enemy soldier, with the idea that more resources are taken up on the battlefield in caring for an injured soldier than dealing with a dead soldier.
Due to their low cost and perceived high effectiveness, landmines became increasingly popular weapons. From the 1970s, they were used as offensive weapons to terrorize civilian populations, denying communities access to their farmland and restricting population movement.