Our Hearts are Breaking for Our Dear Friend and Campaigner, Dr.Bob Mtonga.

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It is with a very heavy heart that we share the news of a great loss to our network and the disarmament community more broadly–  Dr. Robert Mtonga passed away on March 5th, 2017. Dr. Bob was a prominent campaigner who spent much of his life fighting against landmines, cluster bombs, nuclear weapons, small arms… to protect civilians around the world. He was a long time member of both the ICBL and the CMC and represented IPPNW on our governance board. In addition to being a hard working activist, he was a caring human being- always willing to be our community doctor and provide his medical advice. He had a way with words that provided endless entertainment and a smile.

Campaigners based in Geneva will meet at the Broken Chair sculpture, in front of the United Nations to remember Bob.

Dr. Bob was an amazing person who utilized his great humor and wit to make the work a better place for all. He will be sadly missed but lives on in all of the many lives he has touched and helped. Our love and prayers go out to his family as we dedicate ourselves to this work in honor and memory of our beloved Dr. Bob.

The Mine Ban Treaty Turns 18!

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Happy Anniversary

PSALM students are shown celebrating 18 years of working for a landmine free world!

“The signing of the Ottawa treaty was one of the highlights of my career at the United Nations… The determination of the States parties has made the Ottawa Treaty one of the great successes of international diplomacy.” Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations, 2 March 2016.

Eighteen years ago today, the Mine Ban Treaty, also known as the Ottawa Treaty, entered into force, establishing a global norm against the use of anti-personnel landmines. Previously used far and wide as a weapon of choice in the 1980s and 1990s, the global community had come to realize the pernicious impact of landmines on civilians and their communities, long after the end of conflict. Governments and civil society stood together to reject landmines as a relic of the past– an unacceptable weapon for any humane and responsible actor.

“One of the greatest legacies of civil society in the 20th century is the International Campaign to Ban Landmines that helped to achieve the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997. It is an historic achievement that not only banned the use, production, export and transfer of mines, but also provided legal obligations to support clearing mines.  It is also the first weapons treaty in the world’s history to include language for assistance to victims of the weapons that the treaty addresses.” Ken Rutherford, Director of the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery and a landmine survivor, 28 February 2017.

Today, just months away from the 20th anniversary of both the adoption and the signing of the Mine Ban Treaty, we celebrate the positive change brought about by this life-saving treaty.

  • The annual number of landmine casualties today are just a fraction of what they were in 1999
  • The use of anti-personnel landmines by States is increasingly rare
  • 51 million stockpiled landmines have been destroyed- and every landmine destroyed is one that will never kill or injury a person. Congrats to Poland for being the most recent State to complete stockpile destruction!
  • 28 States have completed landmine clearance since 1999, with Algeria being the most recent state to announce completion

This is enormous progress that has saved countless lives and increased opportunities for development around the world.

However, more work remains. Last year, use of improvised landmines by non-state armed groups increased while national and international support for mine action was lower than in most recent years. Mine victims in most mine affected States still struggle to access needed services and to participate as full citizens in their communities. States Parties have made the commitment to finish the job by 2025; with focused and collaborative efforts, we will achieve this goal.

And while global statistics are important to see how far we have come, the impact on the lives of individuals reminds us all of why we started this in the first place and why we must stay the course until the job is done.

“After my accident, all aspects of my life were filled with hopelessness. My future was uncertain. Then I learned about the Mine Ban Treaty, and things started to make sense: I was finding answers to my worries. Now, I am fighting for my rights as entrenched in the Treaty, and in doing so, I am also fighting on behalf of thousands of fellow victims.” Mamady Gassama, founder of the Senegal Association for Mine Victims and a landmine survivor, 27 February 2017.

WHAT YOU CAN DO…

In 2015 an average of 18 people around the world lost their life or limb to a landmine or another explosive remnant of war, every day.

That means over 6,460 people were hurt or killed in 2015.

Still some 60 countries around the world are contaminated by landmines and thousands of people continue living with a thisdaily threat of losing their life or limb.

In addition emplaced landmines deprive families and communities of land that could be put to productive use such as agriculture. They maintain a sense of insecurity long after conflicts end, delay peace processes and impede countries’ development for years.

Though the majority of states worldwide the world have renounced landmines and joined the Mine Ban Treaty, still 35 states remain outside of the treaty, reserving the right to use landmines at any time.

The majority of the countries remaining outside the treaty keep stockpiles that collectively total around 50 million landmines. If not destroyed, those landmines remain ready to be used any time. The biggest stockpiles of antipersonnel landmines are held by: China, Russia, the United States, India and Pakistan.

There is also a small group of countries that still continues producing antipersonnel landmines, including India, Myanmar, Pakistan and South Korea, with a few others reserving the right to produce the weapon.

Though new use of antipersonnel landmines is rare and limited, it still happens. Myanmar/Burma is the only government that has persistently continued laying antipersonnel mines over the years. In addition Libya (under Gaddafi) and Syria used antipersonnel mines during recent conflicts. There is also a number of non-state armed groups in a handful of countries that have continued using antipersonnel mines.

Use of antipersonnel landmines by anyone, anywhere, under any circumstances is unacceptable and triggers an international outcry. Each new mine in the ground can mean another lost life and or limb.

It is time to finish the job and put a final end to landmines!

ICBL Calls to Action

The dedication and commitment of ICBL campaigners around the world was pivotal in bringing about the groundbreaking 1997 Mine Ban Treaty – the first time a weapon in widespread use had been banned. The campaign demonstrated that ordinary people around the world, working together in a variety of ways for a common cause, can bring about change. It also showed the effectiveness of civil society working in partnership with governments and international organizations, putting humanitarian aims and protection of civilians above all else.

We strongly believe that States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty can fulfill their major treaty obligations sooner rather than later, and no later than 2025. We challenge the mine ban community to step up efforts to finish the job!

We also call for an immediate halt to the use of any new antipersonnel landmines, anywhere, and for remaining countries to join the Mine Ban Treaty without delay.

With engagement from people like YOU, the ICBL proves every day that civil society can make a difference worldwide and that ridding the world of landmines is possible.

You can contribute in many ways by taking action!! Here are some suggestions for things you can do and campaigning tools to help you effectively communicate key messages and raise awareness on the issue of landmines and the Mine Ban Treaty.

Ten Things You Can Do

Whether you have 10 minutes, one hour or plenty of time, you can help build a world free of landmines and promote the rights of landmine victims! The strength of the ICBL comes from the involvement of people like YOU at the local, national, regional and international levels.

1. Learn about landmines

Browse the ICBL website, including the resources section, and read about the latest global developments in the annual report issued by the Landmine Monitor

2. Join a local campaign or start one

Contact one of the national ICBL campaign members. If there is no campaign in your country then consider starting your own campaign! If you are from a non-governmental organization, read how to become a member.

3. Promote the 2025 Completion Challenge

We ask governments worldwide to increase efforts to complete their major obligations under the Mine Ban Treaty by 2025.

4. Send a lobbying letter

  • Read ‘Lobbying Letters‘ for tips and templates for writing a lobbying letter to send to your government about the implementation or universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty. You could:
    - Write to one of the States Parties with clearance obligations to finish clearing landmines.
    - Write to one of the countries that have not joined the Mine Ban Treaty. Urge them to get on board right away!
    - Write to those countries that are in a position to fund/increase funding in mine clearance, victim assistance or advocacy efforts. 

5. Meet with decision-makers 

Meet with mine action and victim assistance authorities in your country, and tell them to step up efforts to complete landmine clearance as soon as possible and to provide adequate assistance to landmine victims. 

If your country has not joined the Mine Ban Treaty yet, reach out to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other key authorities like the Ministry of Defense, and tell them to join the treaty as soon as possible. 

6. Get the word out

Write to a local newspaper, call up a local radio station, post on social media and send information to your network of contacts. Share your posts with us on Twitter at @MineFreeWorld, and keep the conversation going!

7. Organise a campaign event

Raise awareness in your community. Organise a public event such as a photo or art exhibition, a landmine awareness day, a letter-writing event, or a public demonstration. Consider holding your event on one of the key dates of the Mine Ban Treaty: entry into force anniversary on 1 March, International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on 4 April, or signature anniversary on 3 December.

8. Stay informed and join in the conversation on social media

Subscribe to our newsletter, join us on Facebook and share our posts, and follow us on TwitterFlickr and YouTube, either from your own page, your organisation’s page or both.

Social media is an excellent way to help you share your advocacy messages with as many people as possible, and to connect with ICBL campaigners around the world.

9. Take action on campus 

Many students and other young people across the globe are already involved in the campaign against landmines. You too can take action in your community, at school or on campus! Here are some ideas: 

  • Start or join a letter-writing campaign.
  • Make a presentation to your class or community.
  • Take part in a theatre event or arrange an art exhibition to raise awareness of the impact of landmines on communities.
  • Hold a vigil for those killed and maimed by landmines every day.
  • Organise a public protest or collect signatures to urge non-member states to join the Mine Ban Treaty.
  • Help raise money to support the ICBL’s advocacy work.
  • Get in touch with your national campaign.
  • Involve peers in your student group, social club, fraternity/sorority, faculty or class. Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Use campus events or activities in your community to gather support for the campaign, spread awareness and raise money – e.g. parties, social evenings, registration/enrolment, graduations or concerts.
  • Write an article on the landmine issue for your student newspaper, ask them to do a photo feature on the issue, write a letter to the editor, organise an interview or news piece for campus radio.

10. Make a donation

  • Support the ICBL online or by mail. Every bit counts!

Poongsan: Stop Producing Cluster Bombs

CLUSTERCampaigners from 49 countries around the world, representing hundreds of civil society organizations, signed a joint letter urging the CEO of Poongsan to immediately halt the production of cluster munitions. The countries represented are Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Canada, Chile, Colombia,  Denmark, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, India, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Lao PDR, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Mexico, Mozambique, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom, Uruguay, United States, Venezuela, Vietnam, Western Sahara, Yemen and Zambia.

The South Korean company Poongsan produces various types of ammunition. According to the ‘Worldwide investments in cluster munitions: a shared responsibility’ report, Poongsan has been involved in the production of different types of cluster munitions.

Poongsan supplies coin blanks to mints around the world. It has reportedly sold coin blanks in the past to Australia, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, India, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, South Korea, the United States as well as the area of Taiwan. All of them have joined the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, except India, Latvia, the Philippines, Poland, South Korea, and the United States. (Taiwan cannot join due to its status.)

Royal Mints in the Netherlands and Norway have stopped buying coin blanks from Poongsan Corporation because of the company’s involvement in the internationally outlawed cluster munitions.

Last month the Cluster Munition Coalition and its member organization PAX (the Netherlands) launched a global action urging all countries, in particular States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, to stop buying coin blanks from Poongsan until the company stops producing cluster munitions. The action also called upon the European Mint Director Working Group (MDWG) to remove Poongsan from its list of vetted suppliers of coin blanks.

“WE ARE ALL CONNECTED” PSALM ART EXHIBIT

 

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“WE ARE CONNECTED” ART EXHIBIT opened on Friday, February 10th  at the Monongalia Arts Center, downtown, Morgantown. The exhibit will run until March 4th, 2017.
 
“WE ARE ALL CONNECTED” PSALM ART EXHIBIT is a look at the interconnectedness of life and the need to abolish landmines and cluster munitions. 
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The theme for our art exhibit is inspired by a quote attributed to Native American Chief Seattle,  “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things are connected.” 
 
“What We Do to One, We Do to All…What We Do for One, We Do for All”
When we recognize that we are all connected, we begin to understand that our life touches more people than we can ever know. The question is not if we are making a difference, but rather what kind of difference are we making? We are not alone on the journey through life — we are all connected at some level — that the actions of one person can affect another person, which, in turn, affects another and yet another. We see this “connectedness” is how these weapons affect people and their environments around the world. We also see it in the work of the international community of people that comprise the campaigns to rid the world of these weapons. This vast global community that make up the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions, along with survivors, share strategies and work together to ensure that affected regions have the capacity to reach their goals. Our exhibit hopes to demonstrate that we are truly connected…to each other and the environment.
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Since the inception of PSALM, students have used their many gifts and talents to raise awareness about world issues that concern them. PSALM students have arranged a display shadow boxes that connect to one another, symbolically representing our connectedness in life. The colorful artworks were made to be attractive in a way that would entice viewing yet confront the observer with difficult issues, namely the remnants of war and conflicts that affect the most vulnerable of the world today. Artworks will also address environmental concerns of these remnants of war. A paper “weaving” will also serve as a reminder of “woven web of life” and of the need to work together to resolve these pressing issues of our world today. Gallery visitors will be asked to join in the artmaking by choosing a strip of painted papers from a basket and weave it into artworks on display. The result being a “work in progress” that the visitors attending the exhibit can participate in…one that won’t be completed until the show has ended.

March 1st 2017 marks the 18th anniversary of the entry into force of the Mine Ban Treaty and the founding of the PSALM organization, member of WVCBL.

PSALM Students Receive Human Rights Award

HRC-LogoThe City of Morgantown’s Human Rights Commission recognized PSALM students as an organization that exemplifies the spirit of diversity and human rights and contribute to making Morgantown a more inclusive community in honor of Human Rights Day on December 10, 2016. PSALM students were selected to receive the first Don Spencer Human Rights Award. PSALM students were presented with the award at a ceremony on December 20th at Morgantown City Council Chambers. The students were also honored with a reception following the award ceremony.

 Jan Derry, director of the HRC, stated, “I believe the leadership, role modeling of compassion for our global neighbors and activism demonstrated by the students of PSALM will go a long way for moving our city to becoming a more inclusive community.  I personally am thrilled to learn of such a remarkable program and feel blessed to be able to be a part of bestowing this recognition to PSALM students”.

PSALM at city council

Many thanks to ALL campaigners of the ICBL/CMC who continue to serve as role models for our students!

Cluster Munition Use in Yemen by Saudi-led Coalition

We-Can-Stop-Cluster-Bombs180x_432x432On December 6, the Saudi-led coalition fired Brazilian-made rockets 

containing cluster munitions in Saada, close to two schools. There were
at least 8 civilian casualties- 2 people were killed and 6 others were
injured, including a child, resulting from the attack.

Read the Human Rights Watch press release here:

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/12/23/yemen-brazil-made-cluster-munitions-harm-civilians

Sadly, the Saudi-led coalition continues to show utter disregard for 
human life in Yemen– we are asking that the coalition cease the use of
all types of cluster munitions. We also are asking Brazil to look into
the unlawful use of Brazilian-made weapons. Join us in condemning                                                          this most recent use of cluster munitions!

PLEASE SEE advocacy messages:

http://stopclustermunitions.org/en-gb/media/news/2016/saudi-led-coalition-use-of-brazilian-made-cluster-munitions-linked-to-civilian-deaths-in-yemen.aspx 

15MSP Successfully Concludes in Santiago

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The 15th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty (15MSP) concluded successfully on 1 December with important advances in the treaty’s implementation and a strong commitment expressed by states and civil society to work together to reach a mine-free world by 2025. International campaigners including WVCBL/PSALM participated in the MSP.

Nearly 100 states and a strong delegation for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines began the week in Santiago with the troubling news of increased mine casualties and decreased funding for mine action. Spurred by the Landmine Monitor 2016 findings, many participants warned against complacency and the need to focus on country-specific solutions to address the legacy of landmines from past conflicts as well as the increased use of improvised landmines by non-state armed groups.

 Poland’s announcement that it had completed the destruction of its stockpiled landmines, before its deadline, inspired applause in the conference hall. The strong participation of landmine survivors, including 10 from Chile, reminded delegates of the urgency of their mission and ensured that discussions remained grounded in addressing the humanitarian impact of landmines.

The presence of delegates from Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan and Yemen underscored the importance of the Mine Ban Treaty to countries in the midst of both acute and prolonged conflict. With airports closed in Yemen, delegates traveled overland to Jordan before flying to Santiago-allowing the Yemeni delegation to report on their efforts to implement the treaty and to call on international support. A strong Colombian delegation encouraged participants with news of the successful peace process there and the important role that mine clearance has played in resolving the decades-old conflict.

Ukraine, another country in conflict, was an important focus of discussion during the week. The country’s deadline for landmine clearance was 1 June 2016. For understandable reasons, Ukraine has not been able to complete clearance of landmines on its territory before that date. Had Ukraine applied for an extended deadline, this would have been approved by states. The ICBL remains concerned by Ukraine’s ongoing violation of the Mine Ban Treaty but at the same time was gratified to see States Parties speaking with one voice to encourage Ukraine to return to compliance with Article 5 by submitting a request for an extended deadline.

Panel discussions during the 15MSP furthered efforts to improve policies and programs, including though the presentation of the integrated approach to addressing the needs and upholding the rights of mine survivors and by raising the profile for the importance of a gender perspective in all aspects of mine action, among others.

Warmly and skillfully hosted by Ambassador Marta Maurás Pérez of Chile representing H.E. Heraldo Muñoz, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the 15MSP contributed toward a mine-free world by 2025, demonstrating that this goal is achievable when states and civil society work together to tackle the challenges that landmines pose.

The Fifteenth Meeting of the States Parties, Santiago, Chile

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The Fifteenth Meeting of the States Parties (15MSP) to the Mine Ban Treaty will take place in Santiago, Chile, from 28 November to 1 December 2016. 

At the 15MSP, the States Parties are expected to report progress and plans on implementing the Maputo Action Plan and achieving their treaty obligations. States not party are expected to report on their positions and plans for joining the Mine Ban Treaty. During the 15MSP, the States Parties will also consider and take decisions on requests for extended mine clearance deadlines under Article 5 of the treaty.

As President and host of the 15MSP Chile plans to focus its efforts on some specific obligations of the Mine Ban Treaty, such as: victim assistance, mine clearance, stockpiles destruction and compliance.

PSALM/WVCBL will attend the MSP. We encourage the U.S. to attend and join the Mine Ban Treaty.

PSALM Students Present at WVU Health Science Center for Global Health Day

The Global Health Program at West Virginia University Hospital Health Science Center hosted its annual Global Health Day event on Thursday, October 20th, 2016. PSALM students were invited to set up information tables to raise awareness about the devastation caused by landmines and cluster munitions the world over. Students presented to visitors at the event. Dr. Larry Schwab was the keynote speaker on Childhood Blindness.PSALM WVU Global Health 16 PSALM workers