(Geneva, 1 March 2013): On the fourteenth anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty’s entry into force, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is calling on governments and the public to “Lend Your Leg” to the global effort to end the suffering caused by landmines.
Staff from the Iraq Mine and UXO Clearance Organization (IMCO) Lend Their Legs for a Mine-Free Iraq ©Dr. Christina L Bennike
The “Lend Your Leg” concept – asking individuals to roll up their pants leg in solidarity with landmine victims – was launched by the Colombian NGO Fundación Arcángeles in 2011 to call attention to the issue of landmines and their devastating effect on communities in Colombia and throughout the world.
Beginning today, the anniversary of the Treaty’s entry into force and running through 4 April – International Mine Action and Mine Awareness Day - ICBL campaigners in more than 40 countries around the world, from Afghanistan to the United States, Ethiopia to Korea, and Cambodia to Syria, are urging governments that remain outside the Mine Ban Treaty to join immediately and urging all governments to take steps towards achieving a mine-free world including: speeding clearance of contaminated land, providing more and better assistance to survivors, their families and communities, and destruction of all remaining stockpiles of antipersonnel mines.
"In Syria we will use all ways and means to sound the alarm on the growing dangers of landmine use and unexploded ordnance in the country. We will also maintain our call regionally and globally for all countries to join the Mine Ban Treaty, the only effective means to eradicate the landmine threat and fully support survivors and affected communities," said Ghassan Shahrour from the Syrian ICBL member organization, Arab Network for Research on Landmines and Explosive Remnants of War (ANROLM). Syria and Myanmar were the only government forces in the world confirmed to have used antipersonnel landmines in the past year.
In the United States – the only NATO country not to have joined the Mine Ban Treaty – the US Campaign to Ban Landmines and Handicap International are delivering a petition calling on the US to join the treaty immediately. The US, which is the largest individual donor to mine action globally, is currently reviewing its policy regarding the treaty and has said a decision will come “soon.”
2013 is the second year for global Lend Your Leg activities, making a significant contribution to global awareness of landmine issues and supporting national advocacy efforts.
Positive Mine Ban Treaty developments in 2012 included the announcement by five countries - Denmark, Guinea-Bissau, Jordan, the Republic of Congo and Uganda – of their completion of mine clearance. Since the beginning of 2012, three countries have joined the treaty: Finland, Somalia, and most recently, in December 2012, Poland. All European Union countries and all countries in sub-Saharan Africa are now on board.
However there are significant challenges remaining including landmine contamination in 59 countries, slow progress on clearance goals, and 36 countries still remaining outside the treaty. The 2013 ICBL Lend Your Leg actions are focused on addressing these at the national level.
“ICBL’s 2013 Lend Your Leg action is a clear call to states and the international community to finish the work of eradicating landmines and the destruction they wreak, and to do it quickly,” said ICBL Director Kasia Derlicka.
Specifically the ICBL is using the action to urgently call for:
- an immediate halt to the use of any new antipersonnel landmines, anywhere;
- remaining countries to join the Mine Ban Treaty without delay;
- full compliance by States Parties to the Treaty regarding their obligations to destroy all stockpiles, clear mine-affected land, and assist victims;
- all countries to provide the necessary resources to achieve a world free of antipersonnel landmines.
More than 80 per cent of the world’s countries have joined the Mine Ban Treaty and landmine use, production and stockpiling is widely condemned among the international community. Millions of mines have been removed from the ground and destroyed and billions of dollars have been invested in eliminating the devastation caused by landmines in communities around the world since the treaty came into force in 1999.
The full Lend Your Leg 2013 press release is available for download here: in English, French, Spanish and Arabic
For more on the 2013 Lend Your Leg, see the ICBL dedicated Lend Your Leg webpage.