Why still care about landmines?


To many around the world who live without the daily fear of being injured or killed by a landmine, the movement to ban these indiscriminate weapons of war has lost its initial momentum. While the international campaign to ban antipersonnel landmines (ICBL) reached its pinnacle, in terms of success and pubic visibility, through a series of diplomatic efforts that came to be known as the Ottawa Process, there has been little effort since 2001 to expand the ban to major non-signatory states. The Ottawa process was revolutionary because it brought interested NGOs, international organizations, states, and victims together for the purposes of treaty drafting – a process that was previously considered the domain of sovereign states. The Mine Ban Treaty is of critical importance to Canadians, as the ICBL helped to bolster Canada’s ability to influence issues of international security. Indeed, the ICBL was a classic case of ‘right place, right time.’ The concept of human security, which is a theory that shifts the focus of security from states to people, increases the ability of smaller states (like Canada) to make a positive contribution to the security needs of people around the world.

The landmines issue is a core focus of human security for the simple reason that landmines continue to kill or severely harm civilians long after the end of the battle. If these reasons do not convince that the ICBL is a worthwhile ‘Canadian cause,’ consider the case of Afghanistan. Not only is Afghanistan unique because it is a major consumer of aid and resources (military, development officers, etc.) from the Government of Canada, but also because Afghanistan has the distinction of being one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. The scourge of landmines remains with us, and Canadians should not allow the government of the day to forget the commitment that we made here in Ottawa to forever rid the world of these terrible weapons. Almost all the countries in Africa have signed the Mine Ban Treaty, but countries like Russia, China, India, Poland, Pakistan and the United States continue to withhold their support from the ban. Canada has a responsibility, one that it cannot abrogate, to pursue any and all diplomatic avenues in order to secure a wider and more comprehensive ban. Canadians need to keep the pressure on their government to extend the reach of the ban, as it is clearly in the interests of not only those individuals at risk but of Canadian values as a whole.

You can get involved today, and have fun doing it!

The UBC International Relations Students Association is holding a “Night of a Thousand Dinners” as a fundraiser and awareness event for Adopt-a-Minefield. Please join us for dinner on November 27th at the Marriott Pinnacle. Tickets are $45 for students and $100 for adults and are available at http://www.irsa.ca/gala or by e-mail tickets.n1kd@irsa.ca. The night includes a fabulous meal, silent auction, a speech by Tom Molloy, and information booths that tell the story of the effort to rid the world of landmines.

Resource Links
Tom Molloy Biography: http://www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/nr/prs/j-a2001/01106bk155_e.html
The ICBL: http://www.icbl.org/
Adopt-a-Minefield: http://www.landmines.org/

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Gordon C. Hawkins is an undergraduate student in the Political Science Department at the University of British Columbia. His research and writing interests include international organizations, security and intelligence, humanitarian interventions and the Responsibility to Protect, military transformation, NATO/EU relations, and the foreign policy of Germany. He has represented UBC at many conferences and seminars, including the 2007 CASIS Conference and the 14th Transatlantic Security Academy in Bonn, Germany. He is this year's President of the UBC International Relations Students Association, a post that he will hold until April 2008. In his spare time, which is unfortunately infrequent, Gordon enjoys to travel on his motorcycle and sail - although not at the same time.