Defining the next steps: banning anti-personnel landmines.On December 3, 1997 an international convention banning anti-personnel landmines was opened for signature in Ottawa. By the end of the ceremony, 123 states had signed the convention, making it an important milestone in the fight to eliminate the humanitarian and developmental impact of landmines throughout the world.
Much of the treaty's potential effectiveness is owned to the involvement of non-governmental organizations “NGO” redirects here. For other uses, see NGO (disambiguation).
A non-governmental organization (NGO) is a legally constituted organization created by private persons or organizations with no participation or representation of any government. (NGOs) prior to and throughout the treaty negotiating process. NGOs kept diplomats focused on the humanitarian objective of the treaty, and ensured that the needs of mine-affected communities were reflected in the agreement. As a result, the treaty is as much a humanitarian agreement as it is a disarmament one.
In traditional disarmament style, the treaty obliges states parties to stop the development, production, transfer, stockpile stock·pile
A supply stored for future use, usually carefully accrued and maintained.
tr.v. stock·piled, stock·pil·ing, stock·piles
To accumulate and maintain a supply of for future use. and use of antipersonnel an·ti·per·son·nel
adj. Abbr. AP
Designed to inflict death or bodily injury rather than material destruction: antipersonnel grenades. mines. Less traditionally, the treaty also obliges states to provide humanitarian assistance to affected communities. In this regard, states "in a position to do so" must contribute to the provision of mine awareness and mine clearance The process of removing all mines from a route or area. , and should provide assistance to victims including the social and economic reintegration reintegration /re·in·te·gra·tion/ (-in-te-gra´shun)
1. biological integration after a state of disruption.
2. restoration of harmonious mental function after disintegration of the personality in mental illness. of landmine survivors into productive community life.
These humanitarian obligations aim at eliminating the existing problem of anti-personnel landmines in affected communities. Although weakly worded, these obligations represent a remarkable step forward from the status quo [Latin, The existing state of things at any given date.] Status quo ante bellum means the state of things before the war. The status quo to be preserved by a preliminary injunction is the last actual, peaceable, uncontested status which preceded the pending controversy. of less than 2 years ago when most states focused on military concerns to the detriment of significant humanitarian progress. However, despite this remarkable progress there is still a long way to go.
Countries such as Russia, the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. , India, Pakistan, Israel, the People's Republic People's Republic
A political organization founded and controlled by a national Communist party. of China and others assert an ongoing right to continue producing, stockpiling stock·pile
A supply stored for future use, usually carefully accrued and maintained.
tr.v. stock·piled, stock·pil·ing, stock·piles
To accumulate and maintain a supply of for future use. and using mines. They adopt this position in opposition to a new international norm established when approximately 70 per cent of the world's nations formally indicated their opposition to landmines by signing the Ottawa Treaty For the 1932 tariff treaty of British colonies and dominions, see .
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 . The number of states opposing landmines continues to rise, lending strength to arguments that upon its entry into force, the convention will represent a new piece of customary international law In addition to treaties and other expressed or ratified agreements that create international law, the International Court of Justice, jurists, the United Nations and its member states consider customary international law , binding on not only its signatories but, like the Geneva Conventions Geneva Conventions, series of treaties signed (1864–1949) in Geneva, Switzerland, providing for humane treatment of combatants and civilians in wartime. , binding on all states by common practice. NGOs must push to ensure that the current window of opportunity is used to its full potential in this regard.
The treaty must also be effectively implemented. In this respect, the international community is challenged to ensure that the treaty is strongly interpreted by states party to it. Already pressures are being felt in the context of NATO NATO: see North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
in full North Atlantic Treaty Organization
International military alliance created to defend western Europe against a possible Soviet invasion. discussions for weaker-than-possible interpretation of the treaty as it relates to the transfer and stockpile of mines. NGOs are also alert as to how states will interpret the definition of `anti-personnel' mine as new makes of landmines that may be argued to be neither completely anti-personnel or anti-tank emerge on world markets. Similarly there are ongoing concerns with regard to `anti-vehicle mines,' which are referred to but not defined in the treaty. Furthermore, many believe that `anti-handling devices An Anti-handling device is a part of attachment of a Landmine to prevent tampering with the mines. These devices serve two military purposes:
The term injure is comprehensive and can apply to an injury to a person or property. Cross-references
Tort Law. civilians, were not adequately stigmatized by the treaty.
Dealing with the above issues will prove complex and challenging for years to come. But, despite the ongoing importance of these issues, at the heart of the work that now faces the international community are the people who live and work with landmines on a daily basis.
Regrettably, the near singular focus of international attention on the convention has left many in mine-affected communities feeling that their immediate land-mine-related problems have been overlooked. Humanitarian mine action NGOs are still struggling financially to sustain their existing programs and to plan and implement new programs in areas where landmines are traumatizing communities and limiting development potential. Organizations do this with the knowledge that, as with their existing programs, they will have to struggle with limitations imposed by piecemeal piecemeal
patchy, e.g. necrosis of the liver in which groups of hepatocytes are separated by small groups of inflammatory cells and fine, fibrous septa following extension of the inflammatory process beyond the limiting plate. , short term and insecure funding arrangements. This situation is not surprising except for the fact that public and political interest in the mines issue has generated a significant increase in funds for humanitarian mine action of late. In this regard, there are a number of trends that warrant attention.
One of these trends reflects the fact that donor governments find it easier and more expedient to give money to the United Nations than to administer funds directly through NGOs. The UN plays an essential role in overall coordination of mine action in affected countries and as such must be supported. However, the UN process of tendering contracts based on national priorities circumvents NGO NGO
Noun 1. NGO - an organization that is not part of the local or state or federal government
nongovernmental organization prioritizing of mine action activities at the community level. Without sufficient direct support to NGOs, the existence of such people-centred responses to the mines problem is at risk.
One area of ongoing concern relates to the definition of a landmine victim and over-reliance on victim statistics as sole evidence of a landmine problem. Mine-related casualties and fatalities can be dramatically reduced through mine awareness education and mine marking. However, mine awareness and mines marking are not sustainable, long term solutions to the mines problem. Rather they are emergency interventions that in the long term must be followed by mine clearance in areas socially and economically constrained con·strain
tr.v. con·strained, con·strain·ing, con·strains
1. To compel by physical, moral, or circumstantial force; oblige: felt constrained to object. See Synonyms at force.
2. by the presence of mines, and by victim assistance in areas where landmine survivors have few opportunities to play productive roles in their communities. Until the mines are removed from the ground and landmine survivors assisted to rebuild their lives as economically productive members of their communities, the landmines problem continues.
Another concern with respect to appropriate funding for mine action has to do with the development of new technologies for mine clearance. Although new technologies are needed in support of mine clearance efforts, such technologies must respond to needs identified by practitioners at the affected-country level and they must be locally sustainable. Specifically, the cost of new technologies must be in keeping with the real abilities of affected communities to access, use and maintain them. Despite the developmental logic of this approach, there remain strong incentives for donor governments to support the research and development aspirations of their own industries. Indeed, there are concerns that humanitarian funds are being used to develop and test counter-mine technologies for primarily military purposes. NGOs must object to the development of inappropriate technologies with funds earmarked for humanitarian mine action.
NGOs must also be aware of and respond to tendencies and motivations that lead to money being spent on activities and meetings that are held in support of humanitarian mine action but that do not directly result in the implementation of humanitarian mine action. Meetings and similar activities can serve a practical and important purpose but allocations made in support of such activities represent a trade off with direct assistance to mine clearance and victim assistance that must be carefully considered. Financial support to meetings and similar activities must be justified by the practical outcomes and benefits of these activities weighed against the practical outcomes and benefits of mine clearance and victim assistance. International efforts to address the landmines crisis must focus on those living and working in mine-affected communities.
The commitment and determination that enabled the world to come together to ban landmines must be directed to the tasks of removing landmines from the ground and helping individuals and communities cope with their aftermath. It is imperative that communities quickly realize improvement to the physically dangerous and socio-economically limiting circumstances they face everyday as a result of landmines. If this is not the case then the political efforts undertaken in this respect will have been for naught. Landmines are still killing and maiming - laying waste to potential and dreams. Until people the world over can walk safely and without fear of landmines we have not achieved our goal.
As of early July, the Ottawa Treaty had been signed by 127 states and ratified rat·i·fy
tr.v. rat·i·fied, rat·i·fy·ing, rat·i·fies
To approve and give formal sanction to; confirm. See Synonyms at approve. by 24, with new ratifications coming in every few days. The treaty will enter into force six months after the first 40 ratifications.
The 24 states that already have ratified are Canada, Ireland, Mauritius, Turkmenistan, Holy See, San Marino San Marino, city, United States
San Marino (săn mərē`nō), residential city (1990 pop. 12,959), Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1913. Of interest is the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. , Switzerland, Hungary, Niue, Belize, Trinidad & Tobago, Djibouti, Croatia, Mali, Denmark, Bolivia, Mexico, Fiji, Peru, Zimbabwe, South Africa South Africa, Afrikaans Suid-Afrika, officially Republic of South Africa, republic (2005 est. pop. 44,344,000), 471,442 sq mi (1,221,037 sq km), S Africa. , Austria, Andorra, and Norway.
For updates, check out the Mines Action Canada The Action Canada movement was an attempt to establish a new political party in Canada in 1971.
Paul Hellyer, who had been a senior cabinet minister in the Liberal governments of prime ministers Lester B. website (http://www.minesactioncanada.com).
Valerie Warmington is Co-Chair of Mines Action Canada and Coordinator of the Canadian Program of the Mines Advisory Group.