Victories Against Landmines

Two major victories in the battle against landmines. Firstly the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize: a fitting recognition of the progress this coalition of Non-Governmental Organisations and charities have made towards ending the scourge of landmines. Volunteers from the Manchester office of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) who have been working for four years towards this, were jubliant. As Claire said, "The people of Manchester played their part in this prize and they should feel justly proud. The support in the city for the campaign has been tremendous."

Secondly, September saw a big success for the campaign to ban antipersonnel mines as the final Draft of the Ottawa Treaty was put together in Oslo. It is expected that at the next leg of the Treaty, in Ottawa in December, around 100 countries will come together and sign the Treaty. This will mean that these nations are obliged to destroy all their stocks of anti-personnel mines within four years and to clear the minefields on their territories within ten. In short it is a huge victory for those affected by landmines.

Jonathan and Claire from Manchester Mines Advisory Group

Where now?

With these achievements under its belt the ICBL and others may appear to have served their function. Sadly this is not the case, several major countries including the US, the Russian Federation and China, do not back the Ottawa Treaty. The Treaty itself is flawed as it does not ban anti-tank mines which are fitted with anti-handling devices: such anti-tank mines are in reality designed to kill people, as well as destroy tanks.

What's more, the Ottawa Treaty doesn't come into effect until signed by 40 nations. So, there's still work to do.

Local action

The Manchester based "Greater Manchester Landmines Initiative" (GREMLIN) will be holding a day of action on Saturday 8 November to encourage the UK government to sign up at the earliest opportunity and to pull in other countries with it. The action will be called "Get Yer Skates on Tony!" meeting at 11am in the One World Centre moving on to St Anne's Square for 12noon. GREMLIN need people who can rollerskate, wear Tony Blair masks, hand out leaflets, make props and help on the day. Ring us if you can help.

Clare Frisby, GREMLIN (0161 835 1959)