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Editorial
Last Updated: 01/18/2005
There Were Nations That Stayed Away
Alison Bock

I recently attended the Nairobi Summit, the First Review Conference of the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction. There are nations that stayed away. It is a shame.


We talked about peace.  We talked about security.  We talked about universalization and building multilateral relationships. 

I recently attended the Nairobi Summit, the First Review Conference of the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.  There are nations that stayed away.  It is a shame. 

 One of the highlights was Ethiopia s ratification on the opening day, November 29th. This brought the number of treaty State Parties to 144 and now includes all of sub-Saharan Africa except Somalia.

  The anti-personnel mine ban treaty is a remarkable success story in the history of international co-operation, said UN Secretary General Kofi Annan via video link from New York.  I would have liked to see him there in person.  The anti landmine movement still needs reinforcements.

 Some of the big boys in world politics don t seem to care enough about the treaty.  There are an estimated 400,000 mine victims worldwide.  There are 200 million mines in warehouses.  Some countries are not just manufacturing mines, they are still laying them.

 A man from Kenya named Chege Mbitiru said that a landmine beats the machete in primitiveness:  antipersonnel mine.  The closest weapon to a mine is a machete, especially when used by some depraved souls in Burundi and Rwanda.  A victim s tendons are severed and the rest of the body cut here and there.  The victim is left to bleed to death.

 I met a man that had just returned from Darfur who lost his younger brother to a landmine. An eleven year old girl from Columbia lost a leg and part of her reproductive organs to an antipersonnel mine.  A man from Somalia lost his arm, his vision and his ability to provide for his family.  A school bus in Israel hit an anti-tank mine and eleven children died.  A six year old girl in Cambodia got blown up walking down a road.  Two sisters lost a brother walking to school.  A young man fetching water in Sri Lanka lost his leg and his dignity.  Two brothers playing soccer in Afghanistan watched their friend bleed to death.  You get the picture.  Animals are innocent victims too; an elephant lost his leg in Thailand.  A mother in Myanmar lost a son.  A father in Mozambique lost a daughter.  I asked a young landmine survivor what he wanted most.  He replied Peace.  

 Eradicating landmines is a step toward world peace.  It is our responsibility as members of civil society to fight for democracy and human rights, to insist that all human beings are treated with dignity and respect, to ensure the equal distribution of the earth s resources and to promote a culture of peace. 

 Peace begins with meeting the basic needs of people.  People need food, water, shelter, education and jobs.  When a person has their basic needs met they have hope.  A person who has nothing to lose is more apt to engage in conflict than a person who has hope.  Imagine a world where we give everyone a well for water, some mine free land to farm, a couple of cows and a school instead of weapons.  Peace is not about designing more sophisticated ways to kill each other.  Peace is about the equal distribution of the earth s resources so that all people have the opportunity to become self sufficient. 

 The United Nations was founded on the belief that peace and security for all peoples would only be possible through disarmament. Article 26 of the United Nations Charter calls for "the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world's human and economic resources."

 

Alison Bock is President of Landmines Blow! http://www.landminesblow.org


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