Since antipersonnel landmines were banned by a majority of nations 15 years ago via an international treaty, their use even by those outside the treaty has become rare, as it has become widely stigmatized. Even officials from the US, which has not banned landmines, have often expressed concern at new mine use. In 2012, for example, Susan Rice, then US ambassador to the UN, described reports that the Syrian government had used antipersonnel mines on its borders with Lebanon and Turkey as “horrific.”
Yet the US remains one of three-dozen countries that have yet to join the Mine Ban Treaty [PDF]. It is baffling: the US, which has not used antipersonnel mines in more than two decades, is the only member of NATO that has not banned them.
In December 2009, a State Department official informed [PDF] the Second Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty that a comprehensive review of US landmine policy had been “initiated at the direction of President Obama.” The review is examining whether the US should relinquish antipersonnel landmines and accede to the treaty.
Over the past few years, photographer Marco Grob has photographed people who have been injured by land mines in war-ravaged countries such as Afghanistan, Cambodia, Mali and South Sudan. He believes his mission is to deliver this message: The world must do more to clear these mines.
Mohammed Omer has cleared more than 750 mines in Afghanistan. (Marco Grob)
Did you know that the Department of State uses 3-D printing technology to create models of landmines and military ordnance to train demining technicians on how to safely clear explosive remnants of war in post-conflict countries around the world?
HARRISONBURG - Children in the United States don’t have to worry about stepping on landmines while walking to school, hiking through the woods, or playing a pick-up game of soccer on a makeshift field. But for millions of children in other parts of the world, the risks are all too real.
While the potential loss of life is the biggest concern, it’s not the only one for those who live in the 59 countries contaminated with landmines left behind from years of war. The mines are a threat to those countries’ economies, too.
The Center for International Stabilization and Recovery at James Madison University used last week’s Post-Conflict Recovery Week to raise awareness about mine-related issues. Friday was the United Nation’s International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. CISR publishes the Journal of ERW and Mine Action and runs programs to help victims and help rid communities of mines.
In partnership with James Madison University’s College of Business, Fiederlein led the session with Dr. Paula Daly: “Transitioning to a Regional Senior Managers’ Course - What It Means for You.” Thanks to CISR’s partners at the Tajikistan National Mine Action Centre, the series will begin with a regional course in Tajikistan in May 2014.
The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) will continue sponsoring the SMC as well as additional courses and regions to be decided.
A highlight from the meeting was seeing so many SMC-ERWTC graduates, many who have stayed in touch with CISR, and were making presentations and holding meetings with U.N., nongovernmental and donor-government officials.
CISR attended the global conference last week on Assisting Landmine and Other Explosive Remnants of War Victims and Survivors in the Context of Disability Rights and Other Domains organized by the Implementation Support Unit for the Landmine Ban Convention.
CISR Director Dr. Ken Rutherford served as moderator of the panel “Ways and Means to Assist and Guarantee Rights: Removing Barriers.” The panelists included Gilles Delecourt (Handicap International), Richardo Becerra (Advisor on University Design for the Bogota Disability Technical Secretary), Megan Burke (ICBL and CMC), Steve Estey (former chairperson of Mines Action Canada) and Candria Goffin (Uganda National Action of Physical Disability).
Rutherford also presented on the panel “Enhancing the Bridge Between Mine/ERW Victim Assistance and Approaches to Health Care and Psycho-social Support.”