Posts tagged cluster bombs
Posts tagged cluster bombs
by Nora D. Sheets [ WVCBL/PSALM ]
Students from St. Francis de Sales Central Catholic School in Morgantown, West Virginia, U.S., created an art exhibit to recognize International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) advocates and landmine survivors.
Members of Proud Students Against Landmines and Cluster Bombs/West Virginia Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs (PSALM/WVCBL or PSALM for short) met in fall 2012 to discuss how to join the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and celebrate 20 years of campaigning for a world free of landmines. It seemed fitting that a youth campaign born from an art project would commemorate the event with artwork. Portraits highlighted ICBL campaigners and a timeline of photographs celebrated the 20th anniversary of ICBL winning the Nobel Peace Prize, along with PSALM’s work with the campaign. The exhibit, A “NOBEL” CAUSE: Portraits of Peace, opened at the Monongalia Arts Center in Morgantown, West Virginia, U.S., on 11 January 2013.
PSALM students spent hours painting and preparing large-scale portraits of ICBL campaigners, mentors and role models, as well as landmine survivors who participated in the 2012 Paralympics in London. The subjects of the portraits are people who inspired PSALM students to use their talents and energy to make the world safer for children everywhere. These portraits represent a mere fraction of the many amazing people PSALM had the privilege of working with over the years. In addition to creating the artwork, PSALM students acted as gallery guides for visitors during the event.
ICBL, a global, civil movement, was born in 1992 to put an urgent stop to a humanitarian crisis. ICBL’s efforts were crucial to the development, negotiation, adoption and signing of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction and in the same year ICBL was a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
As a teacher, I can attest to how often the student becomes the teacher and the teacher becomes the student. In 1999 I assigned a project to my eighth-grade art students: Design a piece of artwork that will educate the public about a global social-justice issue. The students chose landmines, and local veteran and ophthalmologist Dr. Larry Schwab encouraged my students to join the effort to rid the world of landmines. In 2000 PSALM students met with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams; Landmine Survivors Network co-founders Ken Rutherford and Jerry White; and Cambodian Campaign to Ban Landmines members including Nobel Peace Prize co-recipient Tun Channareth, ICBL Youth Ambassador Song Kosal and Sister Denise Coghlan. All went out of their way to educate the students about the issue. The students were dedicated to the mission. PSALM co-founder Ryan Lynch stated, “I learned a lot from working with the campaigns, lobbying lawmakers, raising awareness and meeting with other inspiring advocates, but most of all it empowers and inspires students to create change in a real way. I learned that social-justice advocacy is a powerful tool that can be utilized by anyone with hope.”
Fourteen years later, PSALM is still committed to educating the public about the devastation caused by landmines and cluster munitions, and their indiscriminate nature that leads to loss of life, especially children’s lives, after wartime hostilities have ceased. Students and members work to raise awareness about survivor issues, prevent future casualties through service projects and contribute to the universal signature of the conventions banning landmines and cluster munitions. The service projects that PSALM students completed include collecting medical supplies for landmine victims in Nicaragua, providing a prosthetic device to a Bosnian landmine victim, raising funds in order to train mine detection dogs, as well as sponsoring three water wells in mine-affected regions of Cambodia. “We want a world where all children can walk to school, gather food or water, and play without the fear that each step may be their last,” said a PSALM student during the exhibit.
Nora D. Sheets has worked as an art teacher at St. Francis de Sales Central Catholic School in Morgantown, West Virginia, U.S., for 26 years. She is the coordinator for the student organization Proud Students Against Landmines and Cluster Bombs/West Virginia Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs (PSALM/WVCBL) Sheets has represented PSALM/WVCBL at International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munition Coalition conferences in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Colombia, Croatia, Jordan, Kenya, Laos and Norway.
Nora D. Sheets
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Nearly one million Iraqi children are affected by the presence of landmines with hundreds having been maimed or killed by exploded cluster bomblets since 1991, a UN statement acknowledged.
A statement issued by the United Nations mission to Iraq on the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action calls for more progress to eliminate the threat of landmines to the people of Iraq.
“It is tragic and unacceptable that children continue to have their lives forever damaged by the presence of landmines,” stated Dr. Marzio Babille, UNICEF’s Representative to Iraq. Nearly one million Iraqi children are affected by the presence of landmines with hundreds having been maimed or killed by exploded cluster bomblets since 1991, a UN statement acknowledged.
“With determined effort, all landmines and unexploded ordinance in Iraq can be eradicated; we call on all actors – the Government of Iraq, international community and private sector – to coordinate to permanently eliminate this threat from the lives of Iraqi children and their families.”
Pham Quy Thi joins a side meeting of Handicap International representatives and Vietnamese delegates to discuss a future victim assistance workshop in SE Asia.
Pham Quy Thi, a Quang Tri farmer, proud father of three children, and an amputee who lost his arm in a cluster bomb accident, had a busy week in September when he traveled to Oslo, Norway to attend the Third Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (3MSP) as a Ban Advocate.
In 1977, two years after peace had come to Vietnam, Thi was working in his rice field when he hit an unexploded cluster bomb, locally known as “bombie”. The explosion claimed his right hand and caused serious injuries to his abdomen. However, the tragic accident that turned a young man into a disabled person did not stop him from going on with a full life. Three years later Thi got married, and now he and his wife have three children, all of whom have finished college.
GICHD has, together with its partners, created a Cluster Munition Identification tool (CM ID tool). This provides an easily accessible and searchable database with graphic navigation and identification of Cluster Munitions based on weapon category. An additional overview database is integrated. It shows types and combinations of explosive submunitions that can be carried by such CM.
The GICHD would like to thank the governments of Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Norway and Sweden for supporting this project with the provision of technical data on cluster munitions and to the Government of Japan, Norway and Switzerland for supporting this project financially. The GICHD would also like to thank the following organisations and companies for their assistance in this project: Ballard Chalmers, Fenix Insight, Golden West Humanitarian Foundation, Fort and Human Rights Watch
Laos is one country that has paid dearly for unexploded landmines and cluster bombs on its territory, and much needs to be done to ban these weapons and invest in mine clearance.
MAG experts clear an area of UXO, in the Plain of Jars, Phonsavan, Laos, in 2005. Photograph: Andrew McConnell/Alamy
Amid confirmed reports of landmine use in four countries, the director of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Kasia Derlicka, recently warned: “We fear that the global stigma the mine ban treaty has established [in the past 15 years] is under attack.”
Landmines and cluster munitions have been described as “weapons of social cataclysm”, which perpetuate poverty and prevent development. They leave a legacy of indiscriminate civilian injuries and deaths, burden struggling healthcare systems and render vast tracts of land uninhabitable and unproductive. As Kate Wiggans, from the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munition Coalition (ICBL-CMC) says: “They keep poor people poor, decades after conflict.”
The ICBL-CMC has achieved remarkable progress in the past 20 years. This year Somalia became the 160th signatory to the mine ban treaty, and the Convention on Cluster Munitions has been joined by 111 countries. These treaties have succeeded in binding signatory countries to renounce such weapons, destroy their stockpiles and assist with mine clearance programmes.
The Eden Stanley Group has been chosen by Handicap International UK to deliver an innovative integrated campaign highlighting the threats people continue to face from landmines and cluster bombs around the world. The campaign will be specifically aimed at young people and will launch in September.
Fifteen years ago, in December 1997, the Mine Ban Treaty banned landmines; in 2008 a further convention addressed cluster munitions. Despite these legal breakthroughs, landmines and unexploded cluster bombs continue to kill and maim civilians daily. One third of casualties are children. The total number of survivors needing life-long help continues to increase as these weapons lie hidden long after a conflict has ended.
This will be Handicap International UK’s first campaign of this style and scale. While details are in development, it will use digital, PR and advertising to harness the power of social media and engage young people to take action on an issue which they may not even know is still a problem.
Joe Barrell, founder of Eden Stanley said: ‘As we gear up to the International Day of Peace this September, I was shocked to learn that there are still more than 100 million landmines laid across the world. So we are delighted to be working with Handicap International UK, an organisation bold enough to reengage youth in this serious and forgotten issue. We’re going to try something a bit different this time – it won’t be a typical charity campaign – we need to tap into the motivations of teenagers and young adults, connect them with landmine victims, and mobilise them on their own terms.’
Bomb experts from the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) explode a cluster bomb after finding it in the southern Lebanese village of Sultaniyeh, August 30, 2006. Photo: THOMAS COEX, AFP/Getty Images
OTTAWA — New federal legislation intended to cement Canada’s role in a major international treaty to ban lethal cluster bombs is weak and will make Canada deliberately complicit in the use of the weapons, say experts.
“It falls way below even the minimum threshold of legality under international humanitarian law and is an insult to colleagues in other countries who, seemingly unlike Canada, have negotiated in good faith,” said former Foreign Affairs arms negotiator Earl Turcotte, who led Canada’s negotiating team at the treaty negotiations.
“Most tragically, it will make Canada complicit in the use of a weapon that for good reason we have supposedly banned. Having led the delegation I can say that without doubt this legislation is the worst of any of the 111 countries that have so far ratified the treaty.”
Lloyds and Aviva among the major firms invoking ‘stop lists’ to purge cluster munitions companies from their share portfolios
A young victim of an apparent cluster bomb attack in Misrata, Libya in April last year. Photograph: Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images
Four of Britain’s biggest banks and insurance companies have blacklisted a dozen companies that manufacture cluster bombs and landmines, including two of the world’s largest defence firms.
The Guardian has learned that major firms such as Lloyds Banking Group (through its investment arm Scottish Widows), Aviva, the UK’s largest insurer, and the Co-op have imposed a blanket ban on holdingshares in companies that make or supply cluster munitions, purging them from nearly all their share portfolios.
Royal Bank of Scotland has banned all new lending to the same companies, and is now reviewing its defence industry shareholdings. Similar action is being taken by all the firms to clear out shares in anti-personnel landmine manufacturers, following intense pressure from human rights campaigners.
NPA’s site supervisor, Hasan Joulani
Mahmoud Balhas is a 55 year old tobacco farmer from the village of Qana in South Lebanon. For more than two years, Mahmoud and his family have been using a land that turned out to be highly contaminated with cluster munitions.
When Mahmoud rented this land in 2008 to use for tobacco planting, he knew that it was contaminated with cluster munitions. Yet the need for income forced him to take the risk and, with a misconception that fire destroys all cluster bombs, he set the land on fire. As there were numerous cluster bombs on the surface, explosions started going off around him and he had to throw himself away to escape.
“The explosions were heard all over the village and people thought I was dead when they saw me lying on the ground”, said Mahmoud. “I escaped miraculously but I thought that the problem was solved. I was sure that the explosions destroyed all the cluster bombs in the land so we started using it”.
BRUSSELS — The ousted Libyan government of Col. Moammar Ghadafi deployed cluster bombs and landmines against civilians, the U.N. Human Rights Council said in a report on international investigations into Libya’s human rights record.
Because unexploded cluster bombs are causing civilian casualties, a global cluster munitions pact is now in place to deter and reduce such casualties. Human rights groups have long accused Libya of using cluster bombs against civilians. But this is the first time that the United Nations has formally recognized the use of cluster bombs in Libya, which is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
The International Commission of Inquiry on Libya said after looking into alleged violations of international human rights law in the country that cluster bombs caused serious damage to ordinary civilians.