Campaigners urge UK to lead world in fight against landmines as new global campaign launches today
A high profile joint campaign by the ICBL, the United Nations and Colombian organisation Fundación Arcángeles launches today around the world and UK campaigners are calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to step up and lead the global fight against landmines.
“We know that when the UK decides to lead, it can have a big influence on others,” said Thomas Nash, Director of Article 36, a UK-based NGO that coordinates the British arm of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. “The UK showed leadership in banning landmines and then cluster bombs, and continues to provide vital assistance to mine-affected states, but it has so far failed to live up to its commitment to clear minefields from the Falkland Islands. The UK needs to lead by example and get rid of landmines once and for all.”
Under the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, the UK Government has an obligation to clear minefields remaining from the Falklands War but has been dragging its feet for more than ten years – setting a poor example for other countries with commitments to clear mines. Article 36 urges the UK to present its actual plans for further clearance work including their projected costs, and to make public any needs for assistance it has in order to meet the commitments it has made.
March 1st is the 13th anniversary of the global landmine ban becoming international law. To mark the date, a video featuring United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Colombian celebrities and landmine survivors from all over the world will be played in schools, stadiums, theatres and shared with millions online to encourage people to “Lend Your Leg for a mine free world”.
Lend Your Leg is strikingly simple. On 4 April, the UN Day for Mine Action and Mine Awareness, people all over the world will be asked to roll up their trouser legs or push down their socks, showing solidarity with survivors of landmines and other explosive remnants of war and calling on the international community to eradicate these weapons for good.
Colombian NGO Fundación Arcángeles and its President Juan Pablo Salazar are the architects of this global campaign. One of the world’s most mine-affected countries, last year thousands of Colombians, including President Juan Manuel Santos, took part in the first Lend Your Leg action. Within a few weeks, and as a result of the campaign, Congress passed a draft law to increase protection for victims of conflict, including rehabilitation for landmine survivors.
This year Lend Your Leg is going global. The United Nations network, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement and the ICBL’s global network will be working in capital cities and rural communities, across social media networks and through the press, urging everyone to get on board.
Between today’s launch and the 4 April – the global day of action – ICBL campaigners from Tokyo to Kinshasa, Phnom Penh to Ottawa, Istanbul to New York City will be organising concerts, sporting events, flash mobs and giving hundreds of media interviews, all aimed at ensuring as many people as possible take part in Lend Your Leg, forcing governments to recognise their vital role in helping the ICBL reach its goal.
Since the ICBL was founded 20 years ago, 80 per cent of the world’s countries have banned landmines, millions of mines have been removed from the ground and destroyed and billions of dollars have been invested in stopping the damage mines do.
But despite this, last year’s Landmine Monitor recorded 4,191 new casualties of landmines in 2010. That’s nearly 12 people every day. Tens of thousands of survivors, often in vulnerable and poor communities, are still coping with the terrible aftereffects of the injuries landmines cause.
And although the vast majority of countries have banned mines, some outside the Treaty still produce them, and last year saw the most use of landmines by government forces since 2004.
Thomas Nash, Director, Article 36
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