Landmines and Mine Ban Treaty
“Land-mines are uniquely savage in the history of modern conventional warfare not only because of their appalling individual impact, but also their long-term social and economic destruction,” says Ms. Machel.
Children in at least 68 countries are today threatened by what may be the most toxic pollution facing mankind the contamination by mines of the land they live on. So common are mines in Cambodia that they are now used for fishing, to protect private property and even to settle private disputes.
Afghanistan, Angola and Cambodia have suffered 85 per cent of the world’s land-mine casualties. Overall, African children live on the most mine-plagued continent, with an estimated 37 million mines embedded in the soil of at least 19 countries. Angola alone has an estimated 10 million land-mines and an amputee population of 70,000, of whom 8,000 are children. Since May 1995 children have made up about half the victims of the 50,000-100,000 anti-personnel mines laid in Rwanda.
Once laid, a mine may remain active for up to 50 years. Unless vigorous action is taken, mines placed today will still be killing and maiming people well into the middle of the next century. In just one district of Viet Nam 300 children have died, 42 have lost one or more limbs, and 16 have been blinded as a result of land-mines laid during the Viet Nam war.
Land-mines also have more catastrophic effects on children, whose small bodies succumb more readily to the horrific injuries mines inflict. In Cambodia, an average of 20 per cent of children injured by mines and unexploded ordnance die from their injuries. Children who manage to survive explosions are likely to be more seriously injured than adults, and often permanently disabled.
Total number of land-mines
110 million in 64 countries
Human cost of land-mines
800 deaths a month, mostly innocent civilians, with thousands more maimed for life
Dollar cost of land-mines
To buy one: $3-$10
To remove one: $300-$1,000
Most heavily mined countries
Number of land-mines per square mile
Estimated total number of land-mine
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Source: United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs.
Note: There is too little information about some countries. such as Viet Nam to include them in the estimates.
The United States is still the only NATO state not to have signed the treaty. Despite the dangers posed by antipersonnel mines to U.S. troops in combat and on peacekeeping missions, the Pentagon clings to its assumptions about the military benefits of the weapon. Armed with the knowledge of the danger and suffering that these killers inflict upon society, the boys in Washington still refuse to sign the Mine Ban Treaty.
MINE BAN TREATY
William and Anais ask all artists to join the JOM REVOLUTION
http://jomrevolution.com/ and unite in solidarity, creating art, posters, music, videos and protests creating strong opposition and bringing this matter into the forefront of the media’s attention.
The United States stockpile of mines is estimated at 12 million. The US stores stockpiles in at least ten foreign countries. At the end of his presidency, President Clinton remarked that one of his greatest regrets was that he could not sign the Mine Ban Treaty. The United States supports the notion of banning mines, but relies on them for security of its troops and supplies abroad. The Americans are not willing to sign the Treaty for fear of jeopardizing the safety and security of its soldiers and their missions, in areas such as Korea. The Americans have declared that they would do away with antipersonnel landmines and sign the Ottawa Convention by 2006, if there were some acceptable replacement for mines that would provide the same benefits and security, while minimizing safety risks.
In a statement issued earlier today, Human Rights Watch criticized a statement made at the US State Department’s daily briefing saying that the Obama administration had completed its policy review on antipersonnel landmines and decided not to join the international treaty banning these weapons. The Obama administration has subsequently corrected its initial statement, and indicated that its policy review is continuing.
Human Rights Watch welcomes this correction and urges the United States to join the 158 countries – including nearly all its treaty allies – that have signed the landmine treaty.
(Washington, DC) – The Obama administration’s decision to continue the Bush administration’s policy of refusing to join the international treaty banning antipersonnel landmines is a reprehensible rejection of the most successful disarmament and humanitarian treaty of the past decade, Human Rights Watch said today.
“President Obama’s decision to cling to antipersonnel mines keeps the US on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of humanity,” said Steve Goose, Arms Division director at Human Rights Watch. “This decision lacks vision, compassion, and basic common sense, and contradicts the Obama administration’s professed emphasis on multilateralism, disarmament, and humanitarian affairs,” said Goose.
The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty has been endorsed by 158 countries, including nearly all of the US military allies. Every other member of NATO has endorsed the treaty, as has every other country in the Western Hemisphere except Cuba. The international stigma against the weapon has become so strong that in recent years the only government laying significant numbers of new landmines has been the abusive military government in Burma. Production of the weapon has dwindled to a few states, and virtually no government still exports antipersonnel mines.