The MINE BAN Treaty Turns 20!

 


ICBL in DC

 

 

 

 

 

 

n 18 September 1997, nations from around the world came together in Oslo to adopt the Mine Ban Treaty. Today we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the treaty!

Banning landmines would have not been possible without great partnerships among civil society and governments. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said “if the Mine Ban Treaty has made a difference in the world, it is because the partnership between governments and civil society forged through the process that created the treaty has continued to this day”. Since its inception in 1992, the ICBL— representing hundreds of NGOs, landmine survivors, mine action operators and experts — has been working closely with governments and other actors to achieve a mine-free world.

USA...Don't walk away... Time to join the Mine Ban Treaty!

USA…Don’t walk away… Time to join the Mine Ban Treaty!

The adoption of the treaty 20 years ago today was a milestone start to an end of suffering caused by landmines. To date, the Mine Ban Treaty has been at the heart of many achievements.

More than 80 per cent of the world’s countries outlawed landmines by joining the treaty. The stigma against landmines has grown strong. Landmine trade is virtually eliminated. Sixty-five (65) non-state armed groups have pledged not to use landmines. At least 39 states that once produced landmines have stopped producing them. Twenty-seven (27) countries finished clearing and destroying landmines. More than fifty-one (51) million stockpiled landmines have been destroyed. New landmine casualties have been dramatically reduced from the 40-55 people a day that were killed or injured in the 1990s. The rights of landmine victims have been increasingly recognized.

But the job is not done. Landmines are still a global problem.

An average of 18 people around the world lost their life or limbs to a landmine or another explosive remnant of war every day in 2015. Still some 60 countries around the world are contaminated by landmines and explosive remnants of war, maintaining a sense of fear among thousands of people and creating a sense of insecurity among communities, delaying peace processes and impeding countries’ development for years.
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Although the majority of states worldwide have renounced landmines and joined the Mine Ban Treaty, still 35 states remain outside of the treaty, collectively stockpiling a total around 50 million landmines.

 

 

If not destroyed, those landmines remain ready to be used any time.

Although new use of antipersonnel landmines by states is rare and limited, it still happens. The reported new use of landmines by Myanmar forces during the last two weeks and the ongoing use by non-state armed groups in a handful of countries, often with improvised mines, remind us all that there is still a need to rid the world of these indiscriminate weapons.

While the number of new casualties recorded annually has dropped, any mine incident can add an individual to the still growing number of global survivors. Landmine victims in developing countries, in affected and remote areas, are still too often in desperate need of health care and rehabilitation, psychosocial and socio-economic supports.

It is evident from the remarkable achievements of the last two decades, that we can get this job done. But governments and civil society and other actors need to continue the flourishing partnerships and cooperation to do more to achieve a mine-free world by 2025.

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The Seventh Meeting of States Parties: 4-6 September 2017, Geneva, Switzerland

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The Seventh Meeting of States Parties (7MSP) to the Convention on Cluster Munitions will place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland from 4 to 6 September 2017.

The 7MSP will provide an opportunity for States Parties to present progresses, challenges, plans and needs for assistance and cooperation to achieve their convention obligations and the commitments they made under the 2015 Dubrovnik Action Plan (DAP) and the Dubrovnik declaration.

The 7MSP will be presided over by Ambassador Michael Biontino of Germany. The meeting is open to States Parties, states not party, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions opened for signature in 2008 and entered into force in 2010. To date 119 states have joined the convention, of which 102 are States Parties and the remaining 17 are signatories that have yet to ratify. Madagascar was the most recent state to ratify the convention on 20 May 2017.

SOCCER STAR NEYMAR JR BECOMES HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL AMBASSADOR

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We’re thrilled to welcome Brazilian soccer player Neymar Jr. as the new ambassador of Handicap International. Through this partnership, Neymar is lending his huge fame to a good cause: empowering the most vulnerable people in the world, people with disabilities living in poor countries, victims of conflicts and natural disasters.

The first action of Neymar Jr. as an ambassador of Handicap International was to send a message of support to people with disabilities across the world. At 3:00 pm in Geneva, he went on the top of the 39-foot Broken Chair monument and called for more inclusion of people with disabilities in society. Symbolically, this message took the shape of a soccer ball with the logo of Handicap International on it. He then kicked the ball down the Allée des Nations in front of the Palace of Nations. The event was followed by a press conference hosted by the United Nations Office in Geneva.

BROKEN CHAIR

BROKEN CHAIR

Broken Chair is the work of the Swiss artist Daniel Berset, erected 20 years ago by Handicap International in front of the United Nations headquarters in Geneva to call for a ban on antipersonnel landmines.

More broadly speaking, Neymar Jr. chose to engage with Handicap International and to promote all of the charity’s work alongside persons with disabilities in 56 countries.

The star and Handicap International initially met in 2016 to discuss access to prostheses for amputee children, a subject that’s particularly close to Neymar Jr.’s heart, and a cause he has already supported. He wanted to support similar actions on a global scale, and got to know Handicap International’s prosthetic and orthotic programs.

In October 2016, Neymar Jr. showed his support to Haitians impacted by the devastating Hurricane Matthew by urging his followers on social media to support our work in the hard-hit nation.

He accepted Handicap International’s invitation to travel to Geneva for the “Broken Chair” event. In future, Neymar hopes to travel to the field to see Handicap International’s projects in person, but this has not yet been possible due to his busy schedule.

Neymar is Handicap International’s first International Ambassador. In North America, Handicap International benefits from the committed support of two Goodwill Ambassadors: American pilot, motivational speaker and RightFooted star Jessica Cox, and Canadian Dark Matter actor Anthony Lemke.Handicap International

Benin Ratifies Global Cluster Bomb Ban

Benin becomes 102nd State Party. Félicitations!

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H.E. Mr. Jean-Claude do Rego, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Benin depositing the instrument of ratification at United Nations Office of Legal Affairs. 10 July 2017 ©UN Treaty Collection

The Republic of Benin has become the 102nd State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, having deposited its instrument of ratification at the United Nations’ headquarters on 10 July 2017. The Convention will enter into force for Benin on 1 January 2018.

Benin has stated that it has never used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions.

“This is a serious step towards the universalization of the Convention within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS),” said Félix Kokou Aklavon of the West Africa Action Network on Small Arms in Togo. “Therefore, in the name of sub-regional solidarity we call on the three ECOWAS countries that have not completed their ratification process – Nigeria, Liberia, and Gambia – to do so at the earliest opportunity, in the interest of the population in the region who aspires to peace and sustainable development.”

Benin participated in the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and was a strong advocate for a comprehensive ban. In 2013, Benin expressed its strong commitment to the convention, noting that it had not waited to implement its provisions until it became a State Party.

In 2016, Benin was among 141 states that voted in favor of the United Nations General Assembly resolution (71/45) in support of the total ban on cluster munitions. Benin has also voted in favor of recent UNGA resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria.

The vast majority of sub-Saharan African states have joined the Convention, but 12 still need to ratify to become full States Parties. Seven countries remain outside the convention: Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, South Sudan, Sudan and Zimbabwe. The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic cannot accede to the convention due to its political status, but has expressed its support for the ban on cluster munitions.

2017 Intersessional Meetings of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, Geneva

BROKEN CHAIR

BROKEN CHAIR

The 2017 intersessional meetings of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, or Ottawa Convention, are now underway at the United Nations in Geneva.

The June meeting brings together nearly 300 delegates from more than 70 governments, and 12 international and non-governmental organizations including those representing landmine survivors.

H.E. Thomas Hajnoczi Ambassador of Austria to the UN in Geneva is leading the meeting which will focus on the implementation of mine clearance, stockpile destruction, compliance, assistance to and amongst mine affected countries, and victim assistance actions that the States Parties have agreed to undertake from 2014-2019, with a view of a mine-free world by 2025.

Some of the most mine-affected countries in the world including Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Colombia and Iraq will be presenting updates of their mine clearance efforts.

This mid-year assessment is also an opportunity for states to prepare for the largest annual gathering of mine action experts and officials, which will take place from 18-22 December at the United Nations in Vienna.

20th Anniversary of the Signing of the Convention

To kick off celebrations of the 20 years since the Convention was adopted and signed, representatives of governments and civil society participated in a symbolic event under the “Broken Chair” in Geneva. The sculpture, a reminder of the many landmine victims, was commissioned by the Swiss branch of Handicap International and placed before the United Nations to encourage states to sign the treaty. Rémy Pagami, Mayor of the City of Geneva, which hosts the Convention’s secretariat, also participated in the event.

Austria, which is currently presiding over the Convention, was among the core group of states that together with civil society championed the idea of a treaty to ban the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines, and ensure their destruction. The treaty was also the first instrument to recognize the rights of the victims of the weapon in question. Austria drafted the text that served as the basis for negotiations; one of the authors of the text was the current Chair, Ambassador Hajnoczi, who at the time directed the Austrian Department of Disarmament.

While more than a dozen states including both, mine-affected and traditional donors supported a landmine ban, the core group of states that included Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Norway, South Africa and Switzerland, were instrumental in fostering negotiations and hosting diplomatic conferences that would ultimately lead to the adoption of the Convention in Oslo in September 1997. The Convention opened for signature on 3-4 December in Ottawa later that year. As of 2017, there are 162 States Parties to the Convention representing more than 80% of the world’s countries, and more than 51 million landmines have been destroyed.

For their determination in calling for the Convention, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a coalition of non-governmental organizations and its Coordinator, Jody Williams, received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.

PSALM STUDENTS: LEND YOUR LEG FOR A MINE FREE WORLD!

LEND YOUR LEG PSALM 2017

LEND YOUR LEG PSALM 2017

 

PSALM ( PROUD STUDENTS AGAINST LANDMINES AND CLUSTER BOMBS) students are hosted a “LEND YOUR LEG” Solidarity Day on Thursday, MAY 4TH.  PSALM joined the international community to  “Lend Your Leg for a Mine Free World”, and show solidarity with all survivors of landmines and other explosive remnants of war.

 

 

Community members and families were invited to join us and roll up one pant leg, wear some cool socks and symbolically “stand” in solidarity with the victims and survivors of landmines and Cluster munitions.

“Lend Your Leg”  encourages people worldwide by a simple but symbolic gesture of rolling up a pant leg to raise awareness about the damage landmines and cluster munitions still cause and showing solidarity with all survivors of landmines and other explosive remnants of war.

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What is “Lend Your Leg”? Watch the official LEND YOUR LEG video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGduCYrPlAo.

Long after wars are waged some weapons remain a lurking threat to civilians in the peacetime that follows. Landmines and cluster munitions are indiscriminate weapons that wait underground for years and sometimes decades maiming and killing children, farmers and everyday citizens who happen upon them. “LEND YOUR LEG” began when people were asked to roll-up their pant leg to draw attention to the landmine problem in Colombia and show solidarity with the victims.

 “Lend Your Leg” turned into a country-wide then international phenomenon.

 PSALM students are committed to educating the public about the the indiscriminate nature of anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions leading to the destruction of innocent life, especially children. Students feel it is unacceptable that unarmed civilians become targets of these insidious and indiscriminate weapons long after wartime hostilities cease. PSALM students were outraged that children, the most vulnerable of society, are all too often the victims of these indiscriminate weapons, many left after conflicts long since over, coming upon them in the most innocent of activities like playing or going to school. These weapons instill fear in whole communities, deepening poverty and acting as a lethal barrier to development. Members of the treaties to ban landmines and cluster munitions must complete the task of ensuring that all victims of landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war see their needs fulfilled and their rights respected and aims to promote an understanding of people with disability and encourage support for their dignity, rights and well-being.

PSALM students have been involved in many service projects including funding water wells in mine affected regions of Cambodia, providing prosthetic devices for young survivors and raising money for mine clearance in the Holy Lands. Students recently donated funds to the Marshall Legacy Institute’s Mine Detection Dog program.

PSALM STUDENTS CELEBRATE MINE AWARENESS DAY

PSALM students were very honored to visit the Vatican Embassy in Washington, DC to meet with the new Papal Nuncio (Vatican Ambassador to the US), Archbishop Christophe Pierre on Thursday, March 30th. The students discussed the Holy See’s support of the Ottawa Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the need to get more countries “on board”. The Nuncio commended the work of all campaigners for a world free of these “indiscriminate weapons that target the most vulnerable”.

PAPAL NUNCIO AND PSALM

PSALM students also met with the founders of Marshall Legacy Institute in Arlington/DC psalm and donation in Bob's memory psalm and marshall legacy IMG_5298to see mine-detection dog training and make a donation to their program. PSALM students met with RET. General Sullivan(founder of MLI) and RET. General Baltimore. PSALM students were presented with a stained glass art piece commemorating “Dino”, a retired mine detection dog from Afghanistan.

Students presented MLI with a donation towards their Mine Detection Dog Program in honor of ICBL Campaigner, Dr. Bob Mtonga and his lifelong dedication to a world free of landmines and cluster bombs.

 

 

APRIL 4TH: MINE AWARENESS DAY 2017

PSALM say, A Mine Free world is "Mission Possible"

PSALM say, A Mine Free world is “Mission Possible”

April 4th is recognized as a day for International Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. April 4th aims at raising awareness of dangers caused by landmines and explosive remnants of war. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and its members worldwide mark 4 April with action.

The horrendous effect of landmines on communities throughout the world was witnessed by the founding member organizations of the ICBL, which joined the global movement in 1992 to address the problem. It soon became apparent that the only real solution to address the landmine crisis was a complete ban on antipersonnel mines. The ICBL, in close partnership with a small number of states, the ICRC, and the UN, therefore began the Ottawa Process that led to the creation of the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997.  The Mine Ban Treaty has achieved a lot. States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty are committed to complete the job by 2025.   

But unfortunately landmines are still a global problem. For instance, over 60 states and territories are still contaminated by landmines, 35 states have not joined the treaty yet, an average of 18 people were killed or maimed by landmines every day in 2015, survivors’ needs have not been fulfilled, and, in 2015 landmines were used in over a dozen countries while funding to mine action has been decreasing.

Therefore, the international community must remain committed until the job is done by 2025. And all the 35 States not party should take action to outlaw landmines and to join the Mine Ban Treaty.

On April 4th, ICBL members in Asia, Africa, Americas, Europe and in the Middle East took action to mark the Mine Awareness Day. To name a few examples: In Afghanistan national campaigners are conducting media work and public awareness campaigns encouraging government and mine action actors to stay committed to finish landmine clearance by 2023, and to increase assistance to mine victims and persons with disabilities. The Italian campaign, in collaboration with the National Association of civil war victims, is convening a high level conference “Mine action: an investment in Humankind” at the Palazzo Giustiniani to highlight the needs of landmine victims and the importance of mine action. The conference’s keynote speaker is Mr. Alberto Cairo, a well-known humanitarian practitioner from the International Committee of the Red Cross’s Afghanistan program. 

Campaigners in Belarus held round-table discussions with government authorities and civil society and organizing cultural and sports events to urge the government to complete destruction of stockpiled landmines and to raise awareness among students and public. In Senegal the Association of landmine survivors is provided free consultations for mine survivors in an affected district (Lyndiane) to facilitate access to medical care services. Campaigners in Sweden published an article and are sending out a press release urging the government of Sweden to increase its support to mine action.

To promote implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and accession to the Mine Ban Treaty, national campaigners in Lebanon have been holding a series of events including media work, mine risk education marathon, puppet show with students of public schools, rally, football game with participation of survivors in different locations and in collaboration with government and other mine action actors. In Georgia, national campaigners plan to mark the Mine Awareness Day by holding a training session for cluster munition and mine survivors in Tbilisi. The event aims to provide an opportunity for survivors to discuss socio-economic inclusion challenges and ways to overcome them and also to share their stories.

Campaigners in Pakistan are reaching out to media outlets and conducting a social media campaign to raise awareness on impact of landmines and to urge the government of Pakistan to join the Mine Ban Treaty. In Vietnam national campaigners are holding a workshop to build capacities among landmine/cluster munitions/UXO victims and persons with disabilities in Quang Binh, a cluster munition affected province. The workshop will focus on importance of participation, peer support and it aims to improve business management skills among victims and persons with disabilities.

On 12 April Sudanese campaigners will join national mine action authorities to hold a big mine awareness event at the Friendship Hall in Khartoum. Cambodian campaigners joined the mine action authority to mark mine awareness day on 12 February where some 2,000 persons attended the event in Banteay Meanchey province. Somalian campaigners will mark the Mine Awareness Day together with national mine action authority. Campaigners will encourage the Somali government to submit its transparency report on implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty and Convention on Cluster Munitions.

In spite of the difficult situation in Yemen due to conflict and use of cluster munitions and landmines, national campaigners in Aden, Lahj and Abyan have been working to mark the Mine Awareness Day by providing mine risk education to students in six schools and by engaging them in awareness activities, in collaboration with national mine action authorities. National campaigners in Myanmar in partnership with some of the international mine clearance operators, are preparing for a big mine awareness event to encourage mine clearance, assistance to victims and accession to the Mine Ban Treaty and Convention on Cluster Munitions by the government of Myanmar.  April  4th is observed by national mine action and victim assistance authorities, international organizations and the UN agencies. UN Secretary-General António Gueterres’s message for 4 April highlights the broader impact of mine action in “development” and urges the international community to consider mine action “at the top of the international agenda when negotiating peace”.

2017 is an important year for the ICBL and for the Mine Ban Treaty community. This October will mark 25 years since ICBL was founded and September will mark 20 years since the Mine Ban Treaty was adopted. Commemoration of these two historic and momentous dates this year will provide an opportunity for all of us to reinvigorate our work for a mine-free world by 2025.

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!

PSALM celebrates 18 years as school organization psalm mbt anniversary17

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.