THE BAN ON
Anti-personnel landmines are an insidious weapon of war. They are simple and cheap
to produce, costing only about $30.00 U.S. to manufacture. They either maim or kill anyone
who steps on one. They remain active for decades. They keep on injuring and killing people
long after the war has ended.
They are usually buried underground or left above ground, camouflaged. When tripped,
the resultant explosion will often either slice off the victims limbs or cause sufficient
injury to require the amputation of one or more limbs.
Some facts about landmines:
||The U.S. campaign to eliminate landmines estimates that there are up to 70 million
landmines scattered throughout 68 countries.
||About 26,000 people are killed or maimed each year. This is one injury or death every 20
||Children under the age of 15 form about 30 to 40% of the casualties.
||Countries with significant numbers of uncleared mines include: Afghanistan,
Angola, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Germany,
Guatemala, Honduras, Jordan, Lebanon, Nicaragua, Somalia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe.
||Hurricane Mitch in late 1998 flooded much of the land in Nicaragua. This has moved
landmines left over from the Contra wars in the 1980's from their original locations and
scattered them around the countryside. Often, they have become covered with mud and are
now very difficult to detect.
||China and Russia are the main manufacturers of landmines.
||The process of de-mining will take many decades.
Signing of the landmine treaty:
The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution in 1996 calling for
vigorous pursuit of negotiations on a ban treaty "as soon as possible."
The landmine treaty, popularly known as "The Ottawa Treaty" was drawn
up in 1997-DEC. It bans the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel
landmines. "The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty...comprehensively bans all antipersonnel
mines, requires destruction of stockpiled mines within four years, requires
destruction of mines already in the ground within ten years and urges extensive programs
to assist the victims of landmines." 3
By the end of 1999-FEB, 134 nations had signed the treaty. This includes most of the
countries of the world, including Canada, France, Germany, Nicaragua, South Africa, the
United Kingdom, and Vatican City. The few nations that have not signed the treaty include
China, Iran, South Korea, Pakistan, Turkey, the United States and Yugoslavia. All of the
countries in NATO except for the U.S. and Turkey have signed the treaty. 67 nations had
ratified the treaty by 1999-FEB-28.
1998-DEC-30 was chosen to be a national call-in day to persuade President Clinton to sign
the treaty. 1 Marissa Vitagliano, is the coordinator of the U.S.
Campaign to Ban landmines, a coalition of over 300 groups. He asked that people:
"Put calls into the president. Demonstrate that we haven't forgotten the
issue. Say that we want him to sign now." Although the national call-in
day has passed, interested individuals can still call the White House comment line at
(202) 456-1111 or send e-mails to [email protected]
Implementation of the landmine treaty:
The Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty came into effect throughout most of the world on
1999-MAR-1. The biggest bell-ringing event in history occurred at noon on that day, as
churches around the world ring their bells. 2 Churches in
Brazil, France, Italy, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom had agreed to celebrate. The
International Campaign to Ban LandMines brought on-line churches from other countries.
Rebecca Larson, secretary for research and development education at the Lutheran
World Federation's (LWF) headquarters in Geneva, commented on 1999-FEB-17: "There's
a very active campaign in the U.S., and on March 1 there will be pressure on President
[Bill] Clinton for the US to sign...Throughout the past five years there has been
a significant spiritual element in the campaign, and at the intergovernmental meetings
regarding the treaty there has been ecumenical and interfaith prayer for the ban on
land-mines, for the de-miners, and for the victims and survivors of land-mines."
Over 1,000 non-governmental organizations have formed the International Campaign. More
than a third of these are faith groups.
U.S. reluctance to sign:
landmines currently provide the only feasible way of preventing passage through the
buffer zone that separates North and South Korea. President Clinton believes that it would
be irresponsible of him to sign the treaty at this time. He has suggested the date of
2006. By that time, alternatice weapon systems should have been developed.
President Clinton's proposed goal of the year 2006 is conditional on the development of
a substitute defensive system. In them meantime, the Pentagon is seeking nearly $50
million from Congress in 1999 to develop a new landmine system called
Stephen Goose, Program Director for the Arms Division of Human Rights
Watch commented: "The goal of 2006 is already unconscionably distant...RADAM
is the latest of a growing number of indicators that the Pentagon is not serious about the
2006 deadline, and that it is very unlikely to be met."
On 2001-DEC-3, the fourth anniversary of the opening for signature of the
Mine Ban Treaty, Human Rights Watch issued a press release which
revealed that "45 percent of the 1.2 million long-lasting "dumb"
(non-self-destructing) antipersonnel mines retained for use in Korea are stored
at depots in the continental U.S. Another 50 percent are in Korea, but at the
onset of conflict will be handed over to South Korean troops for their use. The
U.S. earmarks only the remaining 5 percent of the mines for immediate use by
U.S. troops in South Korea." 4 Steve Goose, program
director of Human Rights Watch's arms division commented: "This new
information seriously calls into question the major rationale put forth by the
Pentagon for not banning anti-personnel mines. The U.S. has repeatedly said that
these mines are needed to stop a massive surprise attack by North Korea.
Obviously, they are not needed for that if they are sitting in warehouses in the
U.S." 4 Human Rights Watch has issued a Memorandum
for U.S. Policymakers o Landmines, dated 2001-NOV. 5
Alexa Smith, "Call-In Day Set to Push For Landmine Ban," PCUSA NEWS,
Edmund Doogue, "Churches Are Asked to Ring Bells on March 1 for Land-Mine Ban,"
PCUSA NEWS, #99069, 1999-FEB-17
News release, "Historic Land Mine Ban Treaty Takes Effect: U.S. Plans for New
Mine system Criticized," Human Rights Watch, 1999-MAR-1.
News release, "Landmines: Almost Half of Korea Mines in U.S.,"
Human Rights Watch, 2001-DEC-3
"Memorandum for U.S. Policymakers on Landmines. November 2001. Subject:
Issues and Questions for the Landmine Policy Review," Human Rights Watch,
Copyright © 1998 to 2001 incl. by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2000-DEC-4
Author: B.A. Robinson