Earn your Peace Prize.
The ongoing review of United States landmine policy should result in a decision to ban all types of antipersonnel landmines, Human Rights Watch said today. March 1, 2011, will mark 12 years since the international treaty banning antipersonnel mines became binding international law.This is the opening statement from a Human Rights Watch press release.
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A little background on the treaty.
The Ottawa Treaty or the Mine Ban Treaty, formally the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, completely bans all anti-personnel landmines (AP-mines). As of April 2010[update], there were 156 States Parties to the treaty. Two states have signed but not yet ratified while thirty-seven states are non-signatories to the Convention, making a total of 39 states not party.The United States is not one of the signatories.
In 1997 the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and and Jody Williams (ICBL coordinator) were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 1997, in two equal parts, to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and to the campaign's coordinator Jody Williams for their work for the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines.About The International Campaign to Ban Landmines
There are at present probably over one hundred million anti-personnel mines scattered over large areas on several continents. Such mines maim and kill indiscriminately and are a major threat to the civilian populations and to the social and economic development of the many countries affected.
The ICBL and Jody Williams started a process which in the space of a few years changed a ban on anti-personnel mines from a vision to a feasible reality. The Convention which will be signed in Ottawa in December this year is to a considerable extent a result of their important work.
There are already over 1,000 organizations, large and small, affiliated to the ICBL, making up a network through which it has been possible to express and mediate a broad wave of popular commitment in an unprecedented way. With the governments of several small and medium-sized countries taking the issue up and taking steps to deal with it, this work has grown into a convincing example of an effective policy for peace.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to express the hope that the Ottawa process will win even wider support. As a model for similar processes in the future, it could prove of decisive importance to the international effort for disarmament and peace.
October 10, 1997
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is a global network in over 90 countries that works for a world free of antipersonnel landmines, where landmine survivors can lead fulfilling lives. The Campaign was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its efforts to bring about the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Since then, we have been advocating for the words of the treaty to become a reality, demonstrating on a daily basis that civil society has the power to change the world.International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) press release.
Groups Worldwide Urge the U.S. to Ban LandminesOn a personal note, I wrote a diary last August on the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) entering into force. One of my friends, Lynn Bradach lost her son, Marine Corporal Travis Bradach-Nall in a de-mining operation. Land mines and cluster bombs are the bane of those living in active and former war zones. Their legacy is one of shattered limbs and lives. That the US has not signed either of these treaties is a stain on all of us.
Mine Ban Treaty Turns 12 Today
Geneva, 1 March 2011 - Civil society groups worldwide are calling on the United States to ban antipersonnel landmines immediately, said the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) today, as the Mine Ban Treaty turned twelve. Campaign members will meet today and throughout the month with U.S. representatives in dozens of countries to urge the U.S. to join the Mine Ban Treaty.
"It is absurd that the U.S. continues to cling to a weapon that is so horrific that only a country like Myanmar still uses it," said Sylvie Brigot, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. "If nearly all of the United States' closest military allies were able to remove antipersonnel mines from their arsenal without compromising their national security, we are confident the U.S. can as well."
The Obama Administration started a comprehensive review of its landmine policy in late 2009 to determine whether to join the Mine Ban Treaty. Officials have consulted with allies, States Parties to the treaty, international organizations, civil society including landmine survivors, and former military personnel. No date for completing the review has been made public yet. By joining the Mine Ban Treaty, the U.S. would help send a clear signal that all types of antipersonnel mines are unacceptable weapons, would strengthen international security, and would spur to action some of the other 38 states still outside the treaty.
The U.S. already follows the core obligations of the Mine Ban Treaty: it has not used antipersonnel landmines since 1991, has not exported any since 1992, and has not produced since 1997. It is also the world's largest individual donor to mine action and victim assistance programs. This should be complemented by a legal commitment to end the threat of use of antipersonnel mines.
In 2010, ICBL members undertook an array of actions calling for the policy review to result in a decision by the U.S. to join the Mine Ban Treaty:
* In March 2010, 65 U.S.-based NGOs signed a letter to President Obama, welcoming the policy review and urging that it results in a decision to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty.
* On 18 May 2010, 68 U.S. Senators wrote to President Obama, expressing strong support for the ban on antipersonnel mines.
* In June 2010, landmine survivors from various regions of the world shared testimonies during a meeting with U.S. officials.
* On 30 November 2010, sixteen Nobel Peace Prize laureates sent a letter to President Obama. Signatories included Mohamed El Baradei, Shirin Ebadi, Aung San Suu Kyi, His Holiness Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel, and Jody Williams.
At the beginning of 2011, a Bush policy adopted in 2004 took effect, whereby the U.S. renounces the use of so-called "dumb" mines or "persistent" mines everywhere in the world, including on the Korean peninsula. The U.S. retains the right to use so-called "smart" mines equipped with a self-destruct or self-deactivation mechanism.
"So-called smart mines are by no means safe for civilians. While these mines are active, they cannot distinguish between a soldier and an innocent civilian. And their self-destruct mechanisms have an estimated failure rate of 1 to 10%. By retaining the right to use them, the U.S. stands completely at odds with the international norm that rejects landmine use," said Atle Karlsen, mine clearance expert at Norwegian People's Aid and a member of the Governance Board of the ICBL.
Adopted in 1997, the Mine Ban Treaty entered into force on 1 March 1999, just 15 months after it was negotiated - the shortest time ever for a multilateral treaty. The treaty comprehensively bans all antipersonnel mines, requires destruction of stockpiled mines within four years and destruction of mines already in the ground within 10 years, and urges extensive programs to assist the victims of landmines. The ICBL calls on all states to join the treaty. The Eleventh Meeting of the States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty will be held from 28 November - 2 December 2011 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
How would you feel?
There is no reason for not ratifying the treaty.