Monday, July 16, 2007

Landmine use down due to stigma


Here's an article on the decrease in landmine usage in the last few years. 

The authors wonder about the iconic impact of Princess Di's opposition to their use. 

I also reflect on the careful and widespread mobilizing that was spurred, for instance, by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which, together with landmine campaigner Jody Williams, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 (read her acceptance lecture here:

What is your philosophy or theology of social change?  Is it due to iconic figures, a product of organizing, a result of the movement of God's spirit?  Some combination thereof? 

Understanding HOW we believe change will come
can help empower us to make our work even more powerful.


Matt Guynn
On Earth Peace

Landmine use down over stigma

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Ten years after the death of Princess Diana and the first global treaty against antipersonnel landmines, experts say only a handful of rebel groups and perhaps one state dare use what has become a pariah weapon.

Hard to detect, difficult to clear and often designed to maim rather than kill, antipersonnel mines can linger in the soil for decades. Activists estimate mines still kill or injure perhaps 15,000 to 20,000 people a year -- mainly civilians in countries now at peace.

Landmine clearance agencies say it will likely take another decade to clear probably the world's two most affected countries -- Angola in southern Africa and Cambodia in Southeast Asia -- both the scene of long-running but now ended civil wars. Ongoing conflicts delay clearance in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

But fewer are now being laid and many activists have moved on to a campaign against cluster munitions in the aftermath of last year's Lebanon war, which left much of the country's south seeded with small unexploded bomblets.

"There is a global stigma attached to landmines now," said Paul Hannon, executive director of pressure group Mines Action Canada.

"The supply of mines is drying up. I wouldn't say we have won the war but we have won the battles so far. We have to stop people slipping back and we have to get the mines out of the ground."

Activists say global opinion was already turning against antipersonnel mines even before Diana, Princess of Wales, began using her fame to draw attention to the issue. But they say her campaigning sped up the process.

Diana joined a British Red Cross campaign against landmines in 1997 and before she died visited Angola and Bosnia with landmine charities.

"I don't know whether individuals change history that much or whether landmines had simply had their day," said Simon Conway, director of British-based group Landmine Action. "But everyone remembers those pictures of Diana in the minefields and when it is someone as iconic as that it makes a difference."

Campaigners say the focus on the issue at the time of Diana's death in a Paris car crash in August 1997 almost certainly boosted the number of countries that signed the Ottawa treaty banning antipersonnel mines a month later.

Eighty percent of countries have now signed.

Non-Ottawa signatories the United States, China and Russia continue to hold millions of antipersonnel mines between them -- but now seem not to use them.

Click here to read the remainder of this story:


Post a Comment

<< Home