Churches asked to make some noise about landmine ban

Advocates of a ban on landmines are asking churches, schools, city halls and individuals to make a joyful noise on March 1, the day the mines ban officially becomes international law.

The noise- making initiative originates with the United Kingdom Working Group on Landmines, which is asking supporters around the world to make noise by ringing bells, blowing horns, chiming chimes or by any other means. Here in Canada, the initiative is supported by Mines Action Canada (MAC). (The Anglican Church of Canada is a longtime supporter and member of MAC.)

More than a year after the Ottawa signing of an treaty to ban landmines, advocates are encouraged by the fact that 133 governments have signed the treaty and 57 have ratified (the U.S. and Russia are still holdouts on signing), but they say enforcement will be the true challenge.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines has established an international network of monitors. Called the Landmine Monitor, the network will check on adherence to the Ottawa treaty and press those governments that have yet to join. It will also look at how money is being spent and the appropriateness of assistance to victims.

The Landmine Monitor is supported with funds from the governments of Canada, Ireland and Norway, and several organizations. The budget for the first year is $1.1-million. Almost $900,000 has been pledged.

Other notable facts about the landmine ban:

  • between 10 and 11 million stockpiled landmines have been destroyed since the Ottawa mine ban treaty;
  • non-signatories may be coming around: the United States, Russia, Israel, India, Ukraine and China are among the major governments which have yet to sign the treaty, but the United States has pledged to sign by the year 2006; Russia has stopped production of blast mines; Israel has suspended production and exports; India has pledged eventual support of the treaty; Ukraine has agreed to destroy its entire stockpile, with assistance from Canada; and China has announced a pledge to the United Nations trust fund for mine victims;
  • 10 donor governments have initiated 98 new mine action projects in 25 countries in the past year;
  • the Canadian government pledged $100-million on the signing of the treaty, and announced an additional $2.3-million recently, to be spent in Ukraine, Croatia, and several other countries;
  • the United States has announced Initiative 2010, and called for $1-billion a year to be raised for demining.

For more information about the landmine ban, contact Mary Foster, Mines Action Canada, 1210 – 1 Nicholas St., Ottawa ON K1N 7B7, (613) 241-3777; fax (613) 244-3410; [email protected].

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