From: Liz Bernstein
To: [email protected]
Date: Wednesday, February 24, 1999 10:51 PM
Subject: ICBL press release 1 March

to: all campaigners
from: liz
re: ICBL press release for 1 March

hi ya'll. below please find the press release for 1 March. Please feel free to amend, use your own quotes/contacts - or use as is. Note our contact details in Oslo. In addition please note that Portugal deposited its ratification on 19 February giving us a total of 65. There is a possibility of more ratifications before 1 March - keep an eye on my messages to see if this happens and amend yourselves.
ring em 1 March!

For Immediate Release -- 1 March 1999


On the day that the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty becomes binding international law, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) praised the remarkable progress made in eliminating antipersonnel landmines, condemned those who continue to use the weapon, especially treaty signatory Angola, and called for more assistance for mine action and mine victims. The ICBL has organized bell-ringing and other events around the world today to mark the ban treaty's historic entry-into- force.

"The momentum has continued unabated since the signing of the ban treaty in December 1997," said Jody Williams, ICBL Ambassador and Nobel co-laureate. "Today, this treaty enters into force more quickly than any other major treaty in history, demonstrating the world's commitment to eradicate this insidious weapon now," said Ms. Williams. "While the treaty and the ban movement have already had a huge impact in terms of saving future lives and limbs, we will not have real success until there is effective and rapid implementation on the ground, and more of the recalcitrant governments join in."

Taking stock of progress, the ICBL noted:

"On the downside," said Tun Channereth, ICBL Ambassador, "mines are not coming out of the ground as fast as we would like and too much of the increased money pledged to mine clearance is not reaching the field. We may have turned the corner where more old mines are being cleared each day than new mines are being laid, but the daily toll of mine victims remains frightfully high." Mr. Tun Channereth, a landmine survivor from Cambodia added, "We hope that the governments hear the bells ringing on this historic day calling attention to the plight of the mine victims!"

"Our biggest disappointments," said Liz Bernstein ICBL co- coordinator, "are those who continue to use antipersonnel mines and those who continue to resist the tide of history by not signing, especially China, Russia and the United States. The ICBL condemns users of this coward's weapon. They should be ostracized for behavior unbecoming civilized nations." The ICBL particularly condemns the government of Angola for signing the ban treaty in December 1997 then resorting to the use of mines in its renewed conflict with UNITA mere months later. The ICBL also condemns UNITA for its renewed use of antipersonnel mines. Among the other places where antipersonnel mines are reportedly being laid today, by government and/or rebel forces, are: Yugoslavia (Kosovo), Sri Lanka, Burma, Colombia, Georgia/Abkhazia, Algeria, Somalia and the Congo.

Responding to recent reports about a split between deminers and ban campaigners, Halle J. Hansen, director of Norwegian People's Aid, the world's largest humanitarian mine clearance organization, said, "We have always viewed demining and the ban as two essential, mutually reinforcing goals and activities. There is no question that a political ban -- stopping new production, trade, stockpiling and use -- is a pre-requisite to successful, long-term global mine clearance. The attention to the issue generated by the ban movement has been nothing but beneficial to deminers. The number of organizations and individuals in our profession who think otherwise is very small."

Next on the calendar for the global movement to eradicate antipersonnel mines, is the first Meeting of States Parties to the ban treaty which will take place in Maputo, Mozambique 3-7 May 1999. Governments will gather to assess progress and problems with implementation of the treaty. The ICBL will attend as an official observer, as will governments that have not signed or ratified the treaty.

At the Maputo meeting, the ICBL will release the first Annual Report of the Landmine Monitor initiative in a formal presentation to governments. Landmine Monitor -- a civil society-based system which monitors implementation of and compliance with the ban treaty, and overall international progress in dealing with the landmine crisis - - is the first systematic, coordinated, global effort by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to monitor an arms control or humanitarian law treaty. Another initiative since the December 1997 ban treaty signing ceremonies, is the Survey Action Group, a cooperative effort between demining and victim assistance NGOs and the United Nations, which seeks to undertake "level one surveys" in about a dozen countries to identify the locations of mined areas and their socio-economic impact, to help establish appropriate priorities and demining programs. Together, the Landmine Monitor and the Survey Action initiatives will give the world a bigger, better picture of its progress in eliminating antipersonnel landmines forever.

The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, officially referred to as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and On their Destruction, requires destruction of stockpiled mines in four years, and destruction of mines already in the ground within ten years. It urges assistance for the care and rehabilitation of mine victims. It requires detailed reporting on steps taken to comply with the ban. Today, 1 March, the treaty becomes binding international law for the first 40 ratifiers. Entry into force will occur for others six months after their individual dates of ratification.

ICBL events celebrating the 1 March 1999 entry-into-force of the ban treaty are taking place in dozens of countries from New Zealand to Kenya to the U.K. and include bell-ringing, ceremonies to remember the victims of mines, demonstrations in non-signatory countries -- including one outside the White House in Washington DC, and a seminar at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, Norway. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines is a coalition of over 1300 non-governmental organizations in over 75 countries working to ban antipersonnel landmines, clear them and assist the victims.

For additional information, please contact: * Liz Bernstein & Mary Wareham (Oslo): +47-951-79-590 (mobile) or +47-913-75-191