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International advocacy for mine action

CAMBODIA. Carrying banners and placards on the danger of landmines, youth march in the national landmine awareness day celebrations in Phnom Penh, the capital. There are some 10 million landmines in the country, and one in 250 Cambodians has lost one or more limbs, 20% of them under the age of 16.

Advocacy is the action component of mine action
. Advocacy is how kids, grownups, landmine survivors, and activists all join together. They apply political pressure and force governments to ban production and reduce their stockpiles of landmines.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines Calls For:

An international ban on the use, production, stockpiling, and sale, transfer, or export of antipersonnel landmines

The signing, ratification, implementation, and monitoring of the mine ban treaty

Increased resources for humanitarian demining and mine awareness programs

Increased resources for landmine victim rehabilitation and assistance
The actions of advocates have produced remarkable results during the past few years. The most effective tool for reducing landmines is the 1997 Antipersonnel Mine Ban Convention, which WAS OPENED FOR SIGNATURE in Ottawa Canada. This international treaty which bans AP landmines came into force in 1999. As of 2002, more than two-thirds of the world’s countries have signed the treaty and are now States Parties to the Convention.

As a result of the treaty, the production and international sale and transfer of antipersonnel landmines have almost stopped. Stockpiles are being destroyed. Mined areas are being cleared and put back into productive use. The general public and government institutions in many countries have been sensitised to the importance of action to eliminate the risks posed by landmines. The use of antipersonnel landmines has been effectively stigmatised in many conflict areas.

"Landmines Kill Kids". Family protest outside the Whitehouse. Washington DC 1997.

The treaty sent a message of hope. By adopting the Antipersonnel Mine Ban Treaty, the international community conveyed the message to affected populations that they have the right to live free from the threat of landmines. The international community told affected countries that they have the right to receive assistance to become mine-free. These rights have become protected by international law. The treaty creates a moral as well as legal obligation for governments to provide assistance for mine action. It creates the same moral and legal obligation for all people (citizens or soldiers) in armed conflicts to stop using antipersonnel landmines. But these rights and obligations will not be fulfilled without sustained political and financial commitments at the highest levels of government.

Therefore, there is still more advocacy work to be done. Humanitarian mine action, from advocacy to mine clearance, must continue to develop and grow if the vision of a world safe from the threat of landmines is to become a reality. The United Nations, for its part, is committed to work tirelessly towards this goal.


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