Andy Smith
Mine action specialist

Three failings of the campaign to ban landmines (ICBL)

Andy Smith, 2019

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) was instrumental in getting many countries to agree to the Convention on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and on their destruction. That title is often abbreviated to the Ottawa Convention.

In its preamble, the Ottawa Convention states that its aim is to put an end to the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines. The deminers are the means to achieve this, but the ICBL campaigners have shown no concern for the innocent deminers who are injured putting the campaigners' idealism into practice.

The three Failings

1) Failure to extend the humanitarian outcome to the essential process – so failure to insist that humanitarian demining be conducted in a humanitarian way.

2) Failure to campaign for deminers disabled at work to be provided with the means to live with dignity.

3) Complicity in the myth that each year 'efficiency' (speed) can be increased and costs reduced without recognising that increased speed and low cost compromises the safety of the both the agents we are employing to clear the explosive hazards and the end-users of the land that we 'release' as safe to use”. Campaigners seem to have forgotten the primary goal that originally elicited widespread public support for the ICBL. That goal was not a country meeting an Ottawa Convention deadline. It was the prevention of civilian injury – and that includes injury to the deminers.

Click here to read the paper which expands on the above and makes suggestions about how to correct these failings.