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.
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.
The 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”.
Many thanks to ALL campaigners of the ICBL/CMC who continue to serve as role models for our students!
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:
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:
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 (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.
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.
Today the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize to President Juan Manuel Santos in recognition of his efforts to return peace to Colombia by ending its decades-long civil war.
The Committee noted that “The award should also be seen as a tribute to the Colombian people who, despite great hardships and abuses, have not given up hope of a just peace, and to all the parties who have contributed to the peace process.”
The eradication of landmines is a vital part of the peace agreement between the Colombian government and FARC rebels. In March 2015, both parties came to an agreement to work together to remove landmines as a fundamental step towards an ultimate peace.
President Santos lending his leg as part of a global campaign in solidarity with landmine victims. March 2012.
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines congratulates President Santos for receiving the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. The Colombian government should live up to the Prize’s aim and spirit by deploying every effort to clear and destroy all landmines by March 2021, and to uphold the rights and address the needs of all landmine victims, according to its obligation under the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.
“The Nobel Prize not only recognizes what has been achieved, but also carries great responsibility to continue the work for sustainable peace with justice and equality. Despite the stunning result of the October peace referendum, I truly hope that all Colombians do everything they can to turn all elements of this peace agreement into action, including by ridding the country of landmines once and for all,” said Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (1997) and ICBL Ambassador.
Colombia is affected by landmines, cluster munitions and explosive remnants of war, which have taken a heavy toll on the people of Colombia with at least 11,100 recorded casualties. Colombia joined the Mine Ban Treaty in December 1997. In March 2016 Colombia became a State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
“The Nobel Prize for Colombia, awarded to its President and as a tribute to the Colombian people, and in particular, to the victims of the Colombian conflict, is proof of the support the international community has dedicated to its peace process. As Colombians, we are divided over the peace process and the “No” vote won in the recent referendum that rejected the contents of the peace agreement. Nevertheless, the dream of peace remains alive and the prize is the incentive that will keep the light of hope burning.” said Alvaro Jimenez, Coordinator of La Campaña Colombiana Contra Minas (CCCM).
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, jointly with Jody Williams, was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its efforts to bring about the Mine Ban Treaty that aims “to put an end to the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines.
PSALM STUDENTS CELEBRATE THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE AND ASK THE WORLD TO “FINISH THE JOB” FOR A LANDMINE/CLUSTER BOMB FREE WORLD”
Deadly Attacks in Syria as Treaty Members Meet
(Geneva) – Nations attending the annual meeting of the international treaty banning cluster munitions on September 7, 2016, condemned the continued use of these weapons in Syria, Human Rights Watch said today. During the three-day meeting in Geneva, first responders, local activists, and journalists reported at least eight cluster munition attacks in Syria, some of which, they reported, killed and injured civilians,including children.
The United States did not attend the meeting, which took place at the same time as President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Laos, but two developments in the past week show the ever-growing power of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The US, which is not a treaty member, announced it will provide US$90 million over three years to facilitate clearance efforts in Laos, and the last US producer of cluster munitions, Textron Systems, announced it is getting out of the business.
“We are outraged that yet more civilians in Syria lost their lives to cluster munitions this week as countries were meeting to discuss the international ban on these weapons,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch and chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition, an international group of organizations working to end the use of the weapons. “Words won’t bring back those who have died, but they do send a strong message to cluster munition users that they are on the wrong side of humanity.”
The 55 states parties participating in the sixth annual meeting of the Convention on Cluster Munitions adopted a declaration in which they “condemn any use by any actor.” The nations said: “We are deeply concerned by any and all allegations, reports or documented evidence of the use of cluster munitions, most notably in Syria and Yemen in the past year.”
Numerous governments, as well as the UN, International Committee of the Red Cross, and the Cluster Munition Coalition, have condemned the use of cluster munitions in the past year in Syria, by the joint Syrian-Russian military operation, and in Yemen by a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia. None of these countries are part of the treaty.
“We are outraged that yet more civilians in Syria lost their lives to cluster munitions this week as countries were meeting to discuss the international ban on these weapons” Steve Goose Arms Director at Human Rights Watch
On September 6, Syria Civil Defense, a search-and-rescue volunteer group that operates in opposition-held areas, addressed a briefing for delegates attending the meeting to explain how it is clearing unexploded submunitions and other explosive remnants of war. That same day, two of its volunteers were killed and two wounded in a reported cluster munition attack as they were responding to an earlier air attack on the town of Khan Shaykhoun in Idlib governorate.
Cluster munitions pose an immediate threat to civilians by scattering multiple submunitions or bomblets over a wide area. Many fail to detonate and leave unexploded submunitions that continue to pose a threat long after a conflict ends.
The treaty has been signed by 119 countries, and 100 of them have ratified it. During the meeting, Madagascar, Namibia, and Nigeria said they would ratify soon. France, Germany, and Italy announced that they have completed destruction of their stockpiles of cluster munitions.
Twenty countries that have not signed the treaty attended the conference as observers including Argentina, China, Finland, Greece, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Serbia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Turkey.
President Obama’s Laos visit highlighted that country’s continued suffering from cluster munitions used by the US decades ago, particularly unexploded submunitions – called “bombies” by locals – as well as other explosive remnants of war. During the visit, President Obama met with cluster bomb victims and announced a significant increase of funds to help clear and destroy explosive remnants of war. The president did not, however, address the question of when the US will end the production, transfer, use, and stockpiling of cluster munitions.
On August 30 Textron Systems announced that it has decided to stop its production of sensor fuzed weapons, which are prohibited by the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Textron was the last US manufacturer of cluster munitions, so this decision clears the path for the US to end production, transfer, and use of all cluster munitions, which would enable it to join the treaty.
“More funding for clearance and victims is essential, but it should be accompanied by a commitment to relinquish cluster munitions, so that the US can join the international ban treaty,” Goose said.
Germany’s Ambassador Michael Biontino has been elected president of the next annual meeting of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
The convention obliges states parties to adopt national implementation measures, including legislation, to carry out the provisions of the treaty, but only 27 countries have done so. Human Rights Watch issued an updated report on September 5, outlining key elements that should be included in strong legislation to implement the treaty.
Human Rights Watch is a co-founder of the international Cluster Munition Coalition, and Goose served as the head of the coalition’s delegation at the meeting. Human Rights Watch gave presentations for delegates at briefings about Cluster Munition Monitor 2016, the coalition’s annual report on the status of the treaty; how to respond to new use in Syria; and on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
*Article from HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
The Cluster Munition Monitor 2016 was launched at the United Nations Office in Geneva, hosted by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). In parallel the report is being released by national campaigns in several countries.
The 2016 report covers global developments in ban policy, survey and clearance of cluster munition remnants, casualties and victim assistance. The complete report and press release and major findings (in English, French, Spanish and Arabic) can be downloaded from the Monitor website.
After many years of advocacy by the Cluster Munition Coalition, Cluster Munition Coalition-US and other campaign members, yesterday, Textron, one of the largest producers of globally banned cluster munitions announced it will stop producing cluster munitions. Textron, a US company has produced CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapon (SFW), which has been transferred to Saudi Arabia and used in Yemen over the past one year. Textron has been the only cluster munitions producer in the US.
The international community including 100 States Parties, 19 signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions will come together for the Sixth Meeting of States Parties to the convention in Geneva September 5th.
August 1st, 2016 marks the 6th Entry Into Force anniversary of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. A day to not only celebrate achievements but also to demand governments do more and recommit to the total eradication of cluster bombs.
Every country in the world can and should join the Convention on Cluster Munitions. And to accomplish that, we need you! Your voice is needed to speak up and tell governments they aren’t going to win a war or defend their country with a weapon that kills civilians. It is a question of political will and of prioritizing the protection of civilians over using outdated and indiscriminate weapons.
JOIN US IN CONTACTING MEMBERS OF CONGRESS AND LET THEM KNOW THE TIME IS NOW FOR THE U.S. TO HALT THE USE OF CLUSTER MUNITIONS! The world has agreed that biological and chemical weapons may not be used. It is time to ban these weapons recognizing that any conceivable use is outweighed by the moral consequences. We encourage supportive members of our community and state to learn more about landmines and cluster munitions (www.uscbl.org and www.icbl.
Why was the amendment defeated? Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., chairman of the defense subcommittee of the House Committee on Defense, offered this explanation from floor debate: “The Department of Defense strongly opposes this amendment. They advise us that it would stigmatize cluster munitions, which are legitimate weapons with clear military utility.”
A House vote is not required to stigmatize cluster bombs. Use of these monstrous devices by the United States has taken care of that.
Cluster bombs are large casings containing multiple smaller submunitions, or bomblets, that when dropped from an airplane or shot through artillery or rockets scatter hundreds or thousands of miniature explosives and fragments over very large areas. The bombs explode above the ground to increase the lethalness. The fragments can penetrate even armored tanks, according to a data sheet available from the sole U.S. manufacturer authorized to export cluster bombs, Textron Systems of Wilmington, Mass.
Seventeen countries are believed to be manufacturing cluster munitions: Brazil, China, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, South Korea, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, Turkey and the United States, according to Cluster Munition Coalition, which monitors the manufacture, distribution and use of these weapons.
The military may think them “legitimate” but they are by nature indiscriminate and because they are imperfect, endanger innocent civilians for an indeterminate period. The Defense Department addressed these two issues in 2008 directives guiding the export of cluster bombs.
Cluster bombs of exportable quality must have a failure rate of less than 1 percent, and Textron and the Defense Department assure us their bombs meet that requirement. That is important, because cluster bombs are known to kill and maim long after they have been deployed.
To this day, parts of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam are still infected with unexploded cluster bombs dropped by U.S. forces 50 years ago. Old bomblets dug up in fields or that surface in village commons and school grounds can explode and still kill and maim. Other countries heavily contaminated with unexploded cluster munitions include Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq and Syria.
Also under the 2008 directive, countries that receive U.S.-made cluster bombs must agree that they “will only be used against clearly defined military targets and will not be used where civilians are known to be present or in areas normally inhabited by civilians.”
However, Human Rights Watch has documented around 30 uses of U.S.-made cluster bombs in the last year in Yemen, targeting civilian areas and leaving behind unexploded ordnance, including six cases involving CBU-105 Sensor Fuzed Weapons, made by Textron and approved for export. Saudi Arabia is a recipient of U.S.-made cluster bombs and has been waging an air campaign in Yemen against the Houthi rebels since March of last year. (See the full report at www.hrw.org/news/2016/05/
In early June, the U.N. human rights office said that 3,500 civilians have been killed and 6,300 wounded in Yemen since Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign began. The U.N. Children’s Fund counts more than 900 children killed and more than 1,300 wounded in attacks on markets, hospitals and residential areas. The U.N. and other humanitarian agencies say the Saudi airstrikes account for 65 percent of the civilian casualties.
Not all of those deaths and injuries are tied to cluster bombs, but the House vote must be seen in light of the U.N. reporting. Furthermore, the House vote came just days after U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, under intense pressure from Saudi Arabia, removed the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen from the U.N.’s 2015 “Children and Armed Conflict” report. That report had listed the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen under “parties that kill or maim children” and “parties that engage in attacks on schools and/or hospitals.”
The international community is working to ban cluster bombs. An international treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, prohibits the manufacture, distribution, use and stockpiling of cluster bombs. It was adopted and open for signatures in 2008, and entered into force in August 2010 after it was ratified by 30 states.
To date, 108 states have signed the treaty and 100 have ratified it. Countries that have not signed the convention and have worked against its adoption are Brazil, China, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
It is time that the convention was universally adopted and the scourge of cluster bombs halted.
The effort to ban cluster bombs is modeled on the successful international campaign to ban landmines. Both began as grassroots efforts by nongovernmental groups that work directly with the causalities of these most indiscriminate weapons. Learn how you can help at stopclustermunitions.org
“France had a large stockpile of almost 15 million sub-munitions. It is heartening to know that none of them will ever claim a child’s life,” said Marion Libertucci, Head of the Advocacy Unit at Handicap International, a founding member of the Cluster Munition Coalition. “This should be an inspiration for other major stockpilers of cluster munitions to get rid of this horrifying weapon.”
As noted by the Cluster Munition Monitor, France is a past user, producer, and exporter of cluster munitions, and is now a proactive member of the Convention banning the weapon. France’s stockpile of cluster munitions included M26 rockets and OGR 155mm artillery projectiles.
The President of the Convention on Cluster Munitions issued a congratulations note. Other states that recently completed stockpile destruction include Italy and Germany, in late 2015.
*Under the Convention on Cluster Munitions, states have eight years from the entry into force of the Convention to complete stockpile destruction. The Convention entered into force in 2010 for France.
On Thursday, 23 June 2016, ICBL Director, Megan Burke, spoke to academics, researchers and activists working at the Korea Summit in Washington DC. The Summit was organized and hosted by the Korean Peace Network, the Elliott School of International Affairs‘ Partnership for International Strategies in Asia and the American Friends Service Committee for organizing the “Summit on North Korea.” Her remarks follow:
The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of antipersonnel mines and places obligations on countries to clear affected areas, assist victims and destroy stockpiles. The Mine Ban Treaty is widely recognized as one of the most successful disarmament treaties with over 80% of the world’s countries on board. There are 162 States Parties and just 35 States remaining outside the treaty.
The Mine Ban Treaty’s wide acceptance has contributed to a strong norm against any use or production of landmines. As a result, even among those States who have yet to join the treaty, most are in de facto compliance with all or most of the treaties obligations and the use of landmines is almost completely limited to use by non state armed actors. In addition to the United States, which I will discuss below, other examples of such compliance by non state actors include:
The Korean Exception
One major exception to this is South Korea, not a state party to the treaty, which continues to produce antipersonnel landmines, at least as recently as 2011, and maintain a stockpile believed to contain anywhere from 500,000 to 2 million ap mines. This places South Korea among a group of just 11 countries with the potential to produce landmines and one of just four countries (along with India, Myanmar and Pakistan) where there is believed to be active production. In addition, the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea and the Civilian Control Zone, just south of the DMZ, are among the most heavily mined areas in the world.
However, even South Korea has been influenced by the strong norm against the use of landmines: South Korea has stated that it has not put new mines in place in many years and it has had a moratorium in place prohibiting the export of AP mines since 1997. In addition, in 2014, South Korea’s National Assembly passed the Special Support Law for Civilian Landmine Victims. This law provides for compensation to landmine survivors and the families of the deceased and support for medical expenses. The bill also authorizes the government to provide funds to non-profit associations or organizations working to improve the livelihoods or well-being of landmine survivors or families of those people killed. It came about after years of advocacy by the ICBL’s South Korean campaign and should help the estimated 500- 1,000 civilian survivors of landmine incidents.
US Landmine Policy
The current landmine situation in South Korea directly influences US landmine policy. While, in 1994, President Clinton called for the elimination of anti personnel landmines, the United States still remains outside of the Mine Ban Treaty. In October 2014, the US announced the latest changes in this policy, aligning it with all key obligations of the Treaty except as it relates to the Korean peninsula. The US would not:
- Use any ap landmines
- Assist or encourage any actor from producing, transferring or using landmines
And would destroy all stockpiled ap mines—except for those needed for the defense of South Korea.
Already, in June of 2014, the US had announced its policy forswearing future production or acquisition of antipersonnel landmines.
This US government considers this new policy a “further step to advance the humanitarian aims of the Ottawa Convention and to bring U.S. practice in closer alignment with a global humanitarian movement that has had a demonstrated positive impact in reducing civilian casualties from APL.” In announcing the policy, President Obama also pledged: “to continue to work to find ways that would allow us to ultimately comply fully and accede to the Ottawa Convention.” However, no timeframe was provided for the US government’s eventual accession to the Mine Ban Treaty.
Information published by the White House presenting the new policy explained the Korean exception by stating that “the unique circumstances on the Korean Peninsula and our commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea preclude us from changing our anti-personnel landmine policy there at this time. We will continue our diligent efforts to pursue material and operational solutions that would be compliant with and ultimately allow us to accede to the Ottawa Convention while ensuring our ability to meet our alliance commitments to the Republic of Korea. The security of the Republic of Korea will continue to be a paramount concern as we move forward with these efforts.”
During the US landmine policy review, two concerns were raised in relation to the US role in South Korea’s defense. First, the fact that US-South Korean military arrangements allow for joint command structures in the case of active conflict, putting US military personnel in charge of South Korean forces. This would create conflicting legal restrictions for mine use if the US were to join the treaty while South Korea remained outside. Second, the US military held that the US might have to use ap mines if North Korea were to invade.
This, despite several retired US military officials who question the utility of antipersonnel mines in South Korea and the availability of a range of other military options that are seen as sufficient to compensate for not using mines. For example, the former US commander of US forces in South Korea, Lt. Gen James Hollingsworth stated in 1997 that any limited utility of ap landmines in South Korea was offset by the risks they posed for US soldiers given military strategy that prized the mobility and quick maneuverability of soldiers.
Policy versus Practice
In fact, the 2014 policy announcements, made official what has already been the practice in the US for many years.
Since 1991, the US has used just 1 landmine, a single munition planted in Afghanistan in 2002. The last large scale use of mines by the US was in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
The US has no minefields in place anywhere in the world since it completed the clearance of landmines from around Guantanamo Naval Base in 1999.
No U.S. antipersonnel landmines have been produced since 1997.
While the US still has landmines stockpiled, it has begun to destroy these stocks. In 2002, it announced having over 10 million mines stocked. In June 2014, it announced that these stocks are now around 3 million mines in stocks.
US law has prohibited all ap mine exports since October of 1992, through a comprehensive moratorium. Given that the US was a major exporter from 1969 to 1992, the end of US exports has had a huge impact in drastically reducing the global trade in ap mines to almost nothing.
More generally, US policy influences many other countries. De facto compliance and the revised policy greatly contribute to the stigmatization of landmine use. However, full accession to the treaty would have a greater and more permanent impact on ending all use of ap landmines.
ICBL Campaign Objectives
- Elimination of the Korean exception in the US landmine policy
- Calls on President Obama to send the accession of the Mine Ban Treaty to the US senate for advice and consent
- Encourages the U.S. to support South Korean mine victims and consider supporting mine clearance in a section of the DMZ as suggested by the Korea Peace Network of civil society groups
- Encourages both South and North Korea to jointly become members of the Mine Ban Treaty and use the clearance of the DMZ as a means to forge improved relations for the mutual protection of their populations.