17 November 2011

With 4 days to go until the 11MSP, ICBL interviewed Camilo Serna, ICBL campaigner from the Campaña Colombiana Contra Minas. Here Camilo shares how he became involved in the campaign over ten years ago.In the run up to the 11MSP, which is being held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, between 28 November and 2 December 2011, the ICBL is highlighting the amazing work of some of our campaigners from around the world. Read their stories in their own words and how they are working hard to Push For Progress towards a mine free world.

1) When and how did you become involved with the ICBL?

In 2000 I started a project with the Scout Association in Colombia about landmines and the Mine Ban Treaty. Through this work I met my now colleague Alvaro Jimenez and we decided together to take the national campaign to the next step. We organised a general assembly on landmines in Colombia and invited people from all over the country - this was the first assembly of the Colombian campaign. There were some university students who had worked on the issue in the past and who had been in touch with ICBL but had since lost contact.

After the assembly we got in touch with ICBL again and learned about all of the work that was going on, including the preparations for the First Review Conference in Nairobi that took place in 2004. At that time I also started as a researcher for the Landmine Monitor.

2) Why did you become involved? Personal experience, inspired by others in the campaign, political or humanitarian interest, or something else entirely?

In 1998 I went to a Scout Jamboree in Chile and the Swiss Scout Association brought materials to the meeting about landmines and how to educate young people about them and I became very interested in the issue. When I returned from Chile I presented this toolkit to the Scout association with the proposal to teach Scouts in Colombia about the issue. With the support of the Canadian government we taught the Colombian public about the issue and launched a campaign to urge the Government of Colombia to ratify the treaty.

3) As an ICBL national campaigner how would you like to see states – either your country or others – Push for Progress at the 11MSP?

My dream is to see governments take vital next steps on landmines. At the moment many governments are not being bold in their actions and are not looking forward. I want to see governments step out of their comfort zones and do everything they can to get the mines out of the ground.I would like to see Colombia do better on victim assistance. Survivors are receiving emergency attention but are not getting other services that they needs such as help with socio-economic integration. This is not only an issue in Colombia; many countries need to do more on victim assistance.

4) What message do you have for anyone out there who isn’t aware of the lethal threat landmines still pose for thousands of civilians every day?

We can’t forget that landmines are still a danger for people in the world today – many people still live with a daily threat of landmines. For us, in Colombia landmines are still a problem as is the case in many countries around the world. We cannot forget that this problem exists and we must continue to work until we achieve a mine free world.