International Campaign to Ban Landmines
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), launched in 1992 by Human Rights Watch and five other nongovernmental organizations, brought together over 1,400 human rights, humanitarian, children's, peace, disability, veterans, medical, humanitarian mine action, development, arms control, religious, environmental, and women's groups in over ninety countries who worked locally, nationally, regionally, and internationally to ban antipersonnel landmines. The ICBL was coordinated by international committee of thirteen organizations, including Human Rights Watch, which remained one of the most active campaign members. The ICBL and Jody Williams (a member of the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Watch Arms Division) were jointly awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.
Progress toward the complete eradication of antipersonnel mines continued at an impressive pace, and the ICBL continued its intense global activity. Perhaps most notable were the further development of the ICBL's groundbreaking Landmine Monitor system, and the ICBL's extensive involvement in the "intersessional" work program of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. The ICBL engaged in numerous major events, including Ban Landmines Week and the ICBL General Meeting in Washington D.C. in March, the meetings of the Intersessional Standing Committees of the Mine Ban Treaty in December 2000 and May 2001, as well as a series of ten regional ICBL and Landmine Monitor meetings. In addition, the ICBL participated in several other regional and thematic meetings; undertook ICBL advocacy missions; sent a variety of letters to decision-makers; issued numerous Action Alerts; published activity reports; and issued quarterly Landmine Updates. Much of this information was disseminated via the ICBL website.
Campaign priorities were universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty--convincing recalcitrant nations to accede to the treaty--and ensuring effective implementation of the treaty. Particular targets were states of the former Soviet Union and the Middle East/North Africa, as well as the United States. Key issues of concern included: how to respond to violations of the ban treaty; antivehicle mines with antihandling devices which were prohibited by the treaty; joint military operations between States Parties and nonsignatories using mines; and continued stockpiling and transit of mines by nonsignatories in the territory of States Parties. Other priorities included: promoting increased funding for sustainable and appropriate mine action programs; promoting increased funding for comprehensive victim assistance programs and greater involvement of mine victims and mine-affected communities in the planning and implementation of such programs; and exploring ways to encourage non-state actors to commit to the banning of antipersonnel mines.
Four permanent working groups and one ad hoc working group of the ICBL led these efforts to address the various aspects of the humanitarian landmines crisis. They were the Treaty Working Group (chaired by Human Rights Watch), the Working Group on Victim Assistance, the Mine Action Working Group, and the Non-State Actors Working Group, as well as the ad-hoc Ethics and Justice Working Group.
The Third General Meeting of the ICBL, a biennial meeting of representatives of its national campaigns and member organizations, met in Washington D.C., on March 6-7, 2001. Some 160 participants from eighty country campaigns of the ICBL and representatives of international organizations attended the General Meeting, as well as twenty NGO observers from an additional ten countries. The meeting adopted an "ICBL 2004 Action Plan" that laid out a detailed universalization and implementation strategy for its members. It could be followed by country, by region, by year and/or by mine-related issue (i.e., mine action, survivor assistance, etc).
The General Meeting was held during Ban Landmines Week in Washington D.C. Two hundred mine survivors, deminers, and campaigners from ninety countries came together in Washington, D.C., marking the first time that the ICBL converged in the U.S. Simultaneously, two hundred activists from forty-six of the fifty states, including members of Students Against Landmines from schools nationwide, met in Washington for a U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines national conference and four days of activities including over three hundred meetings with their Congressional representatives. Also during this week was the global meeting of Landmine Monitor researchers for review and submission of their draft reports for Landmine Monitor Report 2001.
The campaign committed to significant ICBL participation in the intersessional work program established in May 1999 at the First Meeting of States Parties. ICBL Working Groups took the lead in liaising with the four Standing Committees. The intersessional work program was aimed at consolidating and concentrating global mine action efforts, and highlighting the role of the Mine Ban Treaty as a comprehensive framework for mine action. The Standing Committees served to facilitate the implementation of provisions of the Mine Ban Treaty, with extensive input, recommendations, and action points from the ICBL. The four Standing Committees on Victim Assistance; Mine Clearance; Stockpile Destruction; and General Status and Operation of the Convention met during week-long sessions in Geneva in December 2000 and May 2001. The intersessional work proved to be an important mechanism to both spur and measure progress made in the full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. In September 2001 the Third Meeting of States Parties was held in Managua, Nicaragua, resulting in an extensive action program for the coming year.
Just prior to the Managua meeting, the ICBL released the 1,175-page Landmine Monitor Report 2001, the third annual report to emerge from the Landmine Monitor system. The Landmine Monitor network grew to 122 researchers in ninety-five countries, and the system and the annual report were widely recognized as a crucial element in addressing the landmine crisis.
The ICBL held day-long campaign seminars in conjunction with a new series of Landmine Monitor regional researcher meetings. At each ICBL session, campaigners strategized on work in the region, discussing campaign priorities, sharpening advocacy and media skills, as well as conducting events to raise public awareness. These meetings also provided an opportunity for regional campaigners to discuss and contribute to the ICBL 2004 Action Plan. The series of meetings began in October 2000 in Yalta for campaigners from Former Soviet Union/Central Asia. In November, a regional meeting in the Americas was held in Buenos Aires before the Second Hemispheric Conference on Banning Landmines. In Buenos Aires, the ICBL also challenged the region's signatories of the Mine Ban Treaty to complete ratification, and challenged States Parties to complete destruction of stockpiles and submit outstanding article 7 transparency reports by the Third Meeting of States Parties. At the conclusion of the seminar, the government co-chairs from Argentina and Canada issued these calls as the "Managua Challenge." In Djibouti a meeting was held, also in November, in conjunction with a Regional Conference on Landmines for the Horn of Africa and Gulf of Aden. Tokyo was the venue for another regional meeting of campaigners in November, held to coincide with stockpile destruction and a fundraising marathon run to generate funds for demining in Cambodia. Another regional meeting was held from November 28-30 in Lomé, Togo, for Francophone African campaigners. European campaigners met in Geneva during the Intersessional Standing Committee meetings, and they also held a regional campaign meeting in Geneva in May 2001 to further strategize and coordinate advocacy plans for the region. Campaigners from the Middle East and North Africa met in Beirut in January 2001, where activities included an advocacy session, and a public event where Lebanese mine action organizations showcased their work. Campaigners from Southern Africa met in Johannesburg in January while those from Southeast Asia met in Bangkok. There they participated in a stockpile destruction ceremony and held a roundtable to present their research to diplomatic representatives in Bangkok. Their neighbors from South Asia met in Kathmandu in Nepal, where they also held roundtables, an advocacy seminar, and a media briefing.
The ICBL also participated in numerous workshops, seminars, and conferences. Among them was the Seminar on Universalization and Implementation of the Ottawa Convention in Africa, held in Bamako, Mali from February 15-16, 2001. The Bamako meeting, co-hosted by the governments of Mali, Canada, and France, marked the first time since May 1997 that countries from all of Africa came together to discuss the landmine ban. Members of the ICBL, including landmine survivors, deminers, and campaigners from throughout the continent, participated in this conference. The ICBL participated in the Seminar on the Destruction of the PFM1 mine which was held in Budapest from February 1-2, 2001, and in March 2001, the ICBL participated in the U.N. Asia Pacific Regional Disarmament Conference in Wellington, New Zealand, and also in a symposium on the Impact of Landmines in Sri Lanka.
National seminars or workshops were held in countries including Afghanistan, Angola, Australia, Colombia, Georgia, Germany, India, Japan, Lebanon, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa, Yemen, and the U.S. New campaigners began activities in Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mongolia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Peru, and Turkey.
Additionally, ICBL Ambassadors, staff, and members undertook a number of advocacy and awareness-building missions, including to Australia, Canada, Fiji, France, Guatemala, Greece, India, Japan, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan and Belgium (for the European Council and Parliament). The ICBL sent letters to heads of state, issued media releases, and engaged in other advocacy activities on the occasions of international events such as the Asia-Europe Summit, the U.N. General Assembly in New York, government summits such as of the European Union, the Francophonie, the Organization of American States, the Organization of African Unity, the Assembly of African Francophone Parliamentarians, the Rio Group, MERCOSUR, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Letters to heads of state and media releases were also issued on the occasions of bilateral visits of heads of state. Letters to heads of state were also sent to mark Mine Ban Treaty anniversaries of December 3 and March 1 urging governments to accede to or ratify the treaty. Letters were also sent congratulating new ratifications, and urging all signatories to ratify before the Third Meeting of States Parties in September 2001. Letters were also sent prior to the two meetings of the Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention highlighting issues of concern to the ICBL in preparation for the meetings.
As in previous years, the third anniversary of the opening for signature of the Mine Ban Treaty galvanized campaigners into action worldwide. On December 3, 2000, which coincided with the International Day for Disabled Persons, activities were held around the globe, from exhibits, to concerts, film screenings and hockey on prosthetics matches. Similarly the first anniversary of the entry into force of the treaty on March 1, 2001 further spurred action worldwide. A concerted campaign effort in anticipation of Ban Landmines Week targeted the United States, urging the newly-elected President Bush to join the treaty. The ICBL also issued regular Action Alerts, including several Ratification Campaign Action Alerts, prior to March 1, 2001 and again in May 2001, in anticipation of the Third Meeting of States Parties to be held in September.
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