Millions of uncleared landmines lie in the fields and alongside the roads and footpaths of as many as 80 countries. Claiming thousands of victims per year, landmines are a weapon of mass destruction in slow motion.
What makes antipersonnel mines so abhorrent is the indiscriminate destruction they cause. Mines cannot be aimed. They lie dormant until a person or animal triggers their detonating mechanism. Antipersonnel mines cannot distinguish between the footfall of a soldier and that of a child.
Those who survive the initial blast usually require amputations, long hospital stays, and extensive rehabilitative services. In Cambodia alone there are over 35,000 amputees injured by landmines--and they are the survivors. Many others die in the fields from loss of blood or lack of transport to get medical help. Mine deaths and injuries in the past few decades total in the hundreds of thousands.
Landmines are now a daily threat in Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, Chechnya, Croatia, Iraq, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Somalia, and dozens of other countries. Mines recognize no cease-fire and long after the fighting has stopped they continue to maim or kill. Mines also render large tracts of agricultural land unusable, wreaking environmental and economic devastation. Refugees returning to their war-ravaged countries face this life-threatening obstacle to rebuilding their lives.
Even if no more mines are ever laid, they will continue to maim and kill for years to come. Bold steps must be taken now to save future generations of innocent civilians. If sufficient funds are provided, deminers from the ICBL say that mine clearance to restore daily life to near normal levels can be achieved in years, not decades.
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), launched in1992, is coordinated by a committee of sixteen organizations. It brings together over 1,300 human rights, humanitarian, children, peace, disability, veterans, medical, humanitarian mine action, development, arms control, religious, environmental and women's groups in over 75 countries who work locally, nationally regionally, and internationally to ban antipersonnel (AP) mines.
The Campaign 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 work of the ICBL has brought about tremendous change in a short period of time. In Ottawa, in December 1997, 122 countries signed a treaty that bans the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of AP landmines. To date 140 countries signed and 115 countries have ratified the Mine Ban Treaty. On 1 March 1999 the Mine Ban a treaty became binding international law faster than any other major international treaty in history.
In 1997, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the ICBL and its coordinator, Jody Williams. In its announcement, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said the Campaign had changed a ban from "a vision to a feasible reality". It also noted that by working with small and medium-sized countries, "this work has grown into a convincing example of an effective policy for peace" that could "prove of decisive importance to the international effort for disarmament".
The work must continue even more relentlessly until the day when there no longer are mine victims. The ICBL will focus on ratification of the treaty and work on universalizing it by campaigning in recalcitrant countries. ICBL Working Groups on the Treaty, Mine Action, Victim Assistance, Non-State Actors, and Ethics and Justice are leading efforts to address all aspects of the global landmine crisis.
What Singaporeans Can Do: -
· We are waiting for the government to sign the treaty for a long time. But you can sign the People's Treaty NOW, through which you commit to working on ensuring your government to pursue the way to ban landmines. For signing, visit ICBL website (http://www.icbl.org).
· Urge Singapore government to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty.
· Urge Singapore government to destroy all stockpiles. ‘Neighboring MALAYSIA has ALLREADY DESTROYED all of its anti-personnel landmine stockpiles in January of 2001'
· Urge Singapore government to support international and bilateral programs for humanitarian mine action and mine victim assistance and rehabilitation. ‘Singapore government hasn't supported any humanitarian mine actions so far.'
· Educate the public and media ‘Talk about the issue with your friends, families and neighbors.'
· Help ICBL to ensure that Singapore compiles with the treaty. ‘Singapore government has Voted in Support of every UN General Assembly resolution supporting the Mine Ban Treaty', but it has yet to put these words into action.
· Stigmatize the producers, exporters, and users of landmines. ‘Divest yourself of ST kinetics' stocks'
· Visit ICBL website www.icbl.org for more information.