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Breaking News and Press Releases

United States UPDATES Landmine policy

Ottawa, Canada (September 23, 2014) The United States announced an update to their new policy regarding landmines today.  In June at a treaty meeting in Mozambique the US announced its intentions "to pursue solutions that would be compliant with and ultimately allow us to join the Ottawa Convention." In a brief statement today a spokesperson said that the United States policy on landmines outside the Korean Peninsula will be aligned with the Ottawa Treaty.  The United States will not use landmines outside of the Korean Peninsula and will destroy all stockpiled landmines not needed for the defense of South Korea.  Mines Action Canada is pleased to see the United States make some progress towards joining the Ottawa Treaty, however, we expected more from a country that has been such a strong supporter of mine action programs around the world. The United States' Landmine Monitor profile is available online.

Canada Destroys Cluster Munition Stockpile Ahead of Schedule:

Mines Action Canada Commends Government of Canada for Completing Destruction of Cluster Munition Stockpiles

San José, Costa Rica (September 3, 2014):   Mines Action Canada commends the Government of Canada for destroying all stockpiled cluster munitions in advance of ratifying the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  Today, Canadian representatives at the Fifth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions announced that the destruction of Canada’s cluster munition stockpile was completed in June 2014.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions bans the use, production, trade and stockpiling of cluster munitions.  Although Canada is not yet a state party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Canada has fulfilled the stockpile destruction obligations found in the convention.  States Parties to the Convention have eight years to destroy their stockpiles; now Canada will be one of the few states to have completed this obligation prior to becoming a state party.

“Canada has set a strong example for other signatories and states parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions by destroying all stockpiled cluster munitions well before they were legally required to do so.  We are very pleased to learn that no cluster munitions will be retained by the Canadian Armed Forces or the Department of National Defence,” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director.  “Stockpile destruction is one of the early successes of the Convention on Cluster Munitions; each submunition destroyed before it can be used is one more life or limb saved.”  Thus far 1.16 million stockpiled cluster munitions and 140 million submunitions have been destroyed globally which is approximately three quarters of the stockpiles of countries around the world which have joined the convention.

In 2006, Canada destroyed 253,422 Mk 118 Mod 1 submunitions contained in Rockeye air dropped cluster munitions.  In June 2014, the remaining cluster munition stockpile, consisting of 1,108,536 submunitions contained in 12,957 Dual Purpose Improved Conventional Munitions (DPICM) ground fired artillery projectiles, was destroyed by General Dynamics – Ordnance and Tactical Systems Munitions Services in Joplin, Missouri, United States.  No cluster munitions are being retained by the Department of National Defence or the Canadian Armed Forces. 

Also in San José, Canada joined numerous other states in strongly condemning the ongoing use of cluster munitions in Syria and called on all actors in Syria to immediately stop using cluster bombs.  This week, Human Rights Watch reported that the Islamic State Forces has used cluster munitions on July 12 and August 14 during fighting around the Syrian town of `Ayn al-`Arab, also known as Kobani in Kurdish, in Aleppo governorate near Syria’s northern border with Turkey.  This is the first known use of cluster munitions by a non-state armed group in the conflict, but Syrian government forces have been using cluster munitions since 2012.  The Cluster Munition Monitor reports that at least 1,584 Syrians have been killed or injured by cluster munitions in 2012 - 2013 with hundreds more casualties reported in 2014. 97% of those reported killed by cluster munitions were civilians.  The ongoing cluster munition use in Syria clearly demonstrates the threat these horrific weapons pose to civilians at the time of use and after the conflict has ended.  Cluster munitions truly are weapons of desperate dictators and terrorists. 

Mines Action Canada is encouraged by Canada’s leadership on stockpile destruction and by Canada’s strong condemnation of cluster munition use in Syria.  “By destroying all stockpiled cluster munitions, Canada indicates that these inhumane and banned weapons have no place in a modern military like the Canadian Armed Forces.  Canada’s condemnation of any use clearly indicates that no one should ever use this weapon again. Although we are celebrating Canada’s leadership on stockpile destruction, Mines Action Canada continues to be very concerned about Canada’s draft legislation to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions, said Erin Hunt, Program Co-ordinator.  “We hope that when the Senate reviews Bill C-6: An Act to Implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions this fall, the Senators will work together to close the remaining loopholes in the legislation and ensure that Canadians never order or support others to use these horrific weapons.”   

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For more information or to schedule an interview, contact:

Jared Bloch, Media and Communications Manager, Cluster Munition Coalition, San José mob.: +506 8419 3634 email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Erin Hunt, Program Coordinator, Mines Action Canada, mob.: 613 302-3088 email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   

Notes to Editors

About cluster munitions:

A cluster munition (or cluster bomb) is a weapon containing multiple - often hundreds - of small explosive submunitions or bomblets. Cluster munitions are dropped from the air or fired from the ground and designed to break open in mid-air, releasing the submunitions over an area that can be the size of several football fields. They cannot discriminate between civilians and soldiers. Many of the submunitions fail to explode on impact and remain a threat to lives and livelihoods for decades after a conflict.

113 countries have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions (84 full States Parties - in bold):

Afghanistan, Albania, Andorra, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, DR Congo, Republic of Congo, Cook Islands, Costa Rica, Côte D’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, The Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia FYR, Madagascar , Malawi, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Sao Tomé and Principe, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Zambia. See http://stopclustermunitions.org/en-gb/the-treaty/treaty-status.aspx for details.

About Mines Action Canada (MAC)
Formed in 1994 Mines Action Canada (MAC) is a coalition of Canadian non-governmental organizations concerned with the human and socio-economic impacts of landmines, cluster munitions and other weapons causing similar humanitarian impacts. It is the Canadian partner of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the 1997 co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and is a founding member of the Cluster Munition Coalition. www.minesactioncanada.org  

Dramatic drop in funding by Canada overshadows record lows in landmine casualties as clearance and funding reach new peaks

Dramatic drop in funding by Canada overshadows record lows in landmine casualties as clearance and funding reach new peaks; yet antipersonnel mine use by Yemen and a small number of states and armed groups must be urgently addressed

(Ottawa, 28 November 2013): Records were set in 2012 for the lowest number of new reported casualties, largest amount of landmine-contaminated land cleared, and highest level of global funding for mine action, according to Landmine Monitor 2013, the latest annual report of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, released today in Geneva.

“The continued decline in new casualties indicates just how successful the 1997 Ottawa Treaty banning landmines has been in fulfilling its vital promise of ending the harm caused by these weapons,” said Jeff Abramson, final editor of the report and program manager for Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor. “The rate of 10 casualties per day for 2012 is less than half of what was reported when the Monitor started recording casualties in 1999 of approximately 25 casualties each day,” he added.

In 2012, casualties caused by mines, victim-activated improvised explosive devices, cluster munition remnants, and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) decreased to a global total of 3,628 compared with 4,474 in 2011, marking the lowest level since 1999.

Not all of the news in the annual report was good. Canadian funding for mine action decreased $10.2 million which resulted in the lowest contribution Canada has made since the Ottawa Treaty became international law in 1999. “This is the second year in a row that Canada’s funding has dropped by more than $10 million,” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director of Mines Action Canada. “With only $6.8 million in funding Canada has dropped to 15th place among major donors, well below our usual top five level. Canadian funding has dropped in four of the last five years which raises the question if the Ottawa Treaty remains a priority for the federal government>”

The use of antipersonnel mines has also dramatically declined as a result of the Mine Ban Treaty, but has not abated completely. Most disturbing is new evidence in 2013 that forces loyal to the government of Yemen—a Mine Ban Treaty member state—laid thousands of antipersonnel mines in 2011. The mine use in Yemen is the first confirmed use of antipersonnel mines by a treaty member state (also known as a “State Party”). Additionally, allegations of antipersonnel mine use persist in States Parties South Sudan, Sudan, and Turkey.

Under the treaty, States Parties are prohibited from using, producing, stockpiling, or transferring antipersonnel mines. The mine use at Bani Jarmooz in Yemen has caused at least 15 civilian casualties. In total, there were 263 recorded landmine/ERW casualties in the country in 2012, compared to just 19 in 2011.

“States Parties are obligated to investigate use of antipersonnel mines and hold those responsible for violations accountable,” said Mark Hiznay, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch and ban policy editor of Landmine Monitor 2013. “Yemen also needs to take immediate action to clear the mines and prevent further casualties.”

Government forces in two states not party to the treaty—Syria and Myanmar—used antipersonnel mines in 2012 and 2013. Non-state armed groups (NSAGs) in Afghanistan, Colombia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, and Yemen used antipersonnel mines in 2013, the highest number of countries with NSAG use in the past five years. Military forces in the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh also used antipersonnel mines in 2013. 

Record clearance and support

In 2012, a record high of at least 281km2 of mined areas were released through clearance or survey—up from at least 190km2 in 2011—destroying almost 240,000 antipersonnel mines. In addition, some 245km2 of battle areas were cleared in 2012—up from at least 233 km2 in 2011. Over the past decade, almost 1,981km2 has been released through clearance or survey and more than 3.3 million mines removed from the ground.

Under Article 5 of the treaty, States Parties must clear all known mined areas on their territory within 10 years. Five states declared clearance completion in 2012 (Republic of Congo, Denmark, Gambia, Jordan, and Uganda) and at least three more are expected to announce completion at next week’s Meeting of States Parties (Bhutan, Hungary, and Venezuela).

In 2012, donors and affected states contributed approximately US$681 million in international and national support for mine action, the largest combined total ever recorded and $19 million more than in 2011. International donor funding alone was a record $497 million, an increase of $30 million as compared with 2011. In addition, the UN General Assembly provided more than $113 million in 2012 for mine action in nine peacekeeping operations—a 25% increase compared with 2011.

Additional key findings from the report include:

  • With Poland’s ratification of the Mine Ban Treaty on 27 December 2012, there are now 161 States Parties to the treaty, including all European Union member states.
  • Collectively, 87 States Parties have destroyed more than 47 million stockpiled antipersonnel mines, including more than 250,000 destroyed in 2012. However, Belarus, Greece, and Ukraine remain in violation of the treaty after having failed to complete the destruction of their stockpiles by their four-year deadline.

Since 2009, significant progress has been made in victim assistance as measured against the commitments States Parties made that year through the Cartagena Action Plan, but challenges remain in making sure programs are available and sustainable, especially in remote areas. 

Landmine Monitor 2013 will be released on 28 November by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines in advance of the Mine Ban Treaty’s Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties, taking place at the United Nations in Geneva from 2–5 December. More detailed state-specific information is available in online country profiles, while the overviews in the report provide global analysis and findings. The report focuses on calendar year 2012, with information included up to October 2013 in some cases.

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About the Monitor:

Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor is the research arm of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines - Cluster Munition Coalition (ICBL-CMC). The ICBL was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its work to eradicate landmines. The Monitor is coordinated by a Monitoring and Research Committee comprised of ICBL-CMC expert staff, research team leaders, and representatives of four non-governmental organizations: Handicap International, Human Rights Watch, Mines Action Canada, and Norwegian People’s Aid.

Links:

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact:

  • Paul Hannon, Executive Director, Mines Action Canada, Ottawa, mobile +1-613-851-5430, or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Jared Bloch, ICBL-CMC Media and Communications Manager, Geneva (GMT+1), mobile +41-78-683-4407, +41-22-920-03-20, or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Jeff Abramson, Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor Program Manager, Geneva (GMT+1), mobile +41-77-436-94-11 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

MAC Launching New Campaign to Stop Killer Robots

We’re excited to announce that Mines Action Canada is involved with the new Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. To learn more about this campaign check out the Canadian website at: www.stopkillerrobots.ca.

Canadian Government Supporting Landmine Survivors in Colombia

Mines Action Canada welcomes the Canadian government’s support of victim assistance programs in Colombia. This week Minister Ablonczy announced almost $3 million in funding for Handicap International’s programs in Colombia.

“We hope this announcement marks a return to Canada’s traditional leadership on mine action funding. In the past, Canada has been a leader in ending the use of landmines and in supporting the victims of these banned weapons but recently the government’s commitment has wavered,” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director. “Through supporting victim assistance projects like this one in Colombia, Canadian funding can have a lasting impact on the lives of landmine survivors garnering the kind of immediate and long term results that all Canadians want to see.”

Handicap International Canada will be responsible for implementing this project. A member of Mines Action Canada and a world leader in supports to persons with disabilities, Handicap International is uniquely qualified to bring about change in the lives in Colombian landmine survivors. With one of the highest rates of landmine casualties in the world, Colombia is working hard to provide services to the over 7,600 people injured and the families of the over 2,000 killed.

“This funding announcement indicates that CIDA agrees with Mines Action Canada’s assertion that landmines are lethal barriers to development. Landmines add an additional burden to families and communities who are working to lift themselves out of poverty. Landmine survivors often face challenges returning to work and providing for their families, contaminated land cannot be farmed and landmine injuries put pressure on overstretched health systems. Mines Action Canada encourages CIDA to support mine action around the world and to increase Canada’s contributions to $1 dollar a day per Canadian,” added Hannon.

For more information on the project please see Handicap International’s website: http://handicap-international.ca.

 

Senate passes flawed cluster bomb bill without amendment

Ottawa: Mines Action Canada is very disappointed that the Senate of Canada has passed the severely flawed draft implementation legislation on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Bill S-10, without amendment. It is now up to the House of Commons to review the legislation and amend it to protect not only the spirit and the intent of the Convention, but also to protect innocent lives and Canada’s reputation as a protector of civilians in armed conflict.

The Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade heard from numerous expert witnesses from Canada and around the world who pointed out many significant flaws in the legislation and suggested a variety of ways to strengthen the Bill. Despite amendments being proposed in both the Committee and during Third Reading, the Senate voted to maintain the flaws in the legislation and send it to the House of Commons unchanged.

“The vote in the Senate means that Canada could have the weakest legislation in the world unless MPs are willing to make some much needed amendments. As a country that has never used or produced cluster munitions, Canada can and should have the best legislation in the world. Mines Action Canada and its colleagues in the Cluster Munition Coalition hope that all Members of the House will work to ensure that Canada is a leader in protecting civilians, as well as ,ensuring that no Canadian will ever use this banned weapon for any reason, anywhere, at any time, for anyone” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director.

As the legislation moves into the House of Commons, citizens across Canada and cluster munition victims around the world call on Members of Parliament to ensure that the legislation lives up to the spirit and purpose of the Convention on Cluster Munitions which is to end for all time the suffering caused by cluster munitions.

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For more information or to schedule an interview, contact:
Erin Hunt, Program Officer, Mines Action Canada, tel. 613-241-3777, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Impact
Publication Celebrates 15 Years of the Ottawa Treaty Banning Landmines

Ottawa: Mines Action Canada today launched a new e-book to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines. On December 3, 1997, the world came to Ottawa to sign a landmark treaty that banned antipersonnel landmines. The Ottawa Treaty is considered one of the most successful treaties and a significant addition to international humanitarian law. Fifteen years after it opened for signatures the global community continues to work together to end the suffering caused by these indiscriminate and inhumane weapons. Much of the success achieved over the past 15 years can be linked to the ordinary people who were the driving force behind and now are the foundation of the treaty. Ordinary people suffer the most from landmines. It was ordinary people including landmine survivors who started the campaign to ban landmines, ordinary people from civil society and from government departments that created the treaty and ordinary people who have implemented it. The Ottawa Treaty proves that ordinary people can have an extraordinary impact.

The publication, “Ordinary People, Extraordinary Impact: Personal Reflections on 15 Years of the Ottawa Treaty” contains personal reflections from a sampling of these ordinary people. From over a dozen countries, contributors provide insights into the groundbreaking Ottawa Process that brought governments and civil society together in negotiations for the first time; the challenges faced to implement the treaty; and, into what is needed in the next 15 years to truly achieve the goals of a world free from landmines.

“Much has been written about the Ottawa Process and the Mine Ban Treaty in the past 15 years, but rarely has the immensely personal impact of the Treaty been examined. Mines Action Canada has collected the personal reflections of small number of campaigners, survivors and government officials to share the heart and passion at the root of the Ottawa Treaty – from a campaigner who met his wife through community awareness activities to a survivor dedicated to speaking out against the weapon that cost him his legs, from students who turned outrage into action to officials who took a risk and created a new framework for diplomacy.” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director of Mines Action Canada.

Contributors include civil society members from Brazil, Pakistan, Kuwait, Germany, France and Poland; youth from Burundi, Canada, Georgia, Uganda, Yemen, and Kosovo; and landmine survivors from the United States, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Senegal, plus the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs during the Ottawa Process.

Editor Colleen McGrann said “I hope that this publication inspires others to get involved in the landmine issue or other social justice or humanitarian issues that speak to them. Each entry in Ordinary People, Extraordinary Impact is proof that each of us can have an extraordinary impact on our global community no matter how small we may feel.”

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Impact: Personal Reflections on 15 Years of the Ottawa Treaty Banning Landmines is available online at: http://www.minesactioncanada.org/learn/15th-anniversary.

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For more information or to schedule an interview, contact:

Erin Hunt, Program Officer, Mines Action Canada, tel. 613-241-3777, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Landmine use by governments at low point, Canadian funding declines significantly; assistance to landmine survivors still a challenge

Ottawa, 29 November 2012: Only one government - Syria - has used antipersonnel landmines in 2012, matching the lowest point since the signing of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, according to Landmine Monitor 2012. Four governments used antipersonnel mines in 2011 (Israel, Libya, Myanmar, and Syria).

The number of governments rejecting antipersonnel mines continues to grow, with three new countries - Finland, South Sudan, and Somalia – joining the Mine Ban Treaty since July 2011. The succession of South Sudan and accession of Somalia means that all sub-Saharan African countries have joined the Mine Ban Treaty. Globally, 160 countries are party to the treaty, more than 80 percent of all countries.

“The low in antipersonnel landmine use by states this year, the all-time high in mine clearance funding in 2011, and the dramatic reduction in landmine casualty rates compared to one decade ago is a testament to the achievements of the Mine Ban Treaty over the past 15 years and that’s the good news,” said Mark Hiznay, editor of Landmine Monitor 2012. A total of 4,286 new casualties from landmines and explosive remnants of war were recorded in 2011, or approximately 12 casualties per day versus 32 casualties per day in 2001.

In some of the countries most affected by landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) such as Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Colombia, the report notes real progress in reducing human suffering and the number of casualties.

However, the report also highlights new challenges including a significant increase in casualties in countries such as Libya, Sudan, South Sudan, and Syria, a decrease in international funding for victim assistance projects, and landmine use by non-state armed groups in six countries, up from four in the previous report. Moreover, the continued high number of requests by States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty for mine clearance deadline extensions is a matter of serious concern.

While International and national funding for mine action in 2011 was the largest combined total ever at approximately US$662 million this was despite a significant drop in funding by Canada . Funding from Canada was $17 million in this reporting period down from $30,1 million in the previous year. “This is the lowest funding level by Canada since 2002,” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director of Mines Action Canada. “Canada has historically been a top-5 donor, but this year Canada is only the 10th largest donor to mine action. Considering the impressive results produced by such funding and given that the landmines treaty is generally known as the Ottawa treat, these are very disappointing numbers. Canada can and should do much better than this.” added Hannon.

“While the annual rate of new casualties has decreased greatly during the past decade, the total number of survivors in need of victim assistance has continued to grow around the world each year," Hiznay said. "Yet the promise of the Treaty to adequately address the rights and needs of the hundreds of thousands of survivors must be fulfilled. This continues after the stockpiles have been destroyed and clearance completed."

Additional key findings from the report include:

The Monitor is the research arm of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines - Cluster Munition Coalition (ICBL-CMC). The ICBL was awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for its work to eradicate landmines. The Monitor is coordinated by five non-governmental organizations - Action on Armed Violence, Handicap International, Human Rights Watch, Mines Action Canada, and Norwegian People’s Aid.

“In spite of the great gains made over the past 15 years toward achieving a mine-free world, eliminating the daily impact landmines have on countless communities will require a sustained international effort for years to come. Canada needs to become a leader again” said Hannon.

Landmine Monitor 2012 will be released on 29 November by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines in advance of the Ottawa Treaty’s 12th Meeting of States Parties, taking place at the United Nations in Geneva from 3-7 December.

Links:

ENDS
For more information or to schedule an interview, contact:

Appendix 1 - Major Findings
Appendix 2 - Mine Action Funding 1998-2011

Mines Action Canada calls on Canadian government to condemn cluster munition use in Syria

Mines Action Canada has written to the Honourable John Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs, asking him to condemn the recently reported use of cluster munitions by Syria. To read the letter, click here.

Mines Action Canada participates in conference in humanitarian disarmament

MAC met with 90 other campaigners from a variety of campaigns focused on humanitarian disarmament last weekend to share lessons learnt, build networks and plan. The Humanitarian Disarmament Campaigns Summit was a great success and resulted in a communiqué delivered to the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. Learn more online at Human Rights Watch.

New Volunteer Opportunity

Do you have graphic design skills and a desire to celebrate all the efforts made to eliminate landmines?

Mines Action Canada is seeking a volunteer to assist with the graphic design and production of an electronic publication to mark the 15th anniversary of the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines. The Ottawa Treaty is considered the most successful humanitarian disarmament treaty. The publication is a collection of short contributions from government officials, campaigners, landmine survivors and others who have had an important role in the worldwide movement to ban landmines.

The Volunteer would work closely with the editor to:

This position will be open until filled. To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Use of Banned Cluster Munitions in Syria Confirmed
Canada Should Condemn Use Immediately

(Ottawa, October 14, 2012) Following evidence released today by our Cluster Munition Coalition colleagues Human Rights Watch and others, showing widespread use of cluster munitions by Syrian Armed Forces in recent days, Mines Action Canada is calling on the Syrian government to stop immediately all use of these banned weapons, and is pressing all other states to condemn this further outrage against Syria’s population.

Paul Hannon, Executive Director, said: “The videos and interviews show that in the past week the Assad regime has used cluster bombs in numerous locations, including in populated areas, risking the lives of far too many civilians. The world recognizes the unacceptable harm cluster munitions cause both at time of use and in the weeks, months and years afterwards. We urge Canada and other states that have banned these indiscriminate weapons to publicly condemn Syria’s actions and to call for a complete halt in cluster bomb use. We encourage all countries to speak out in acknowledgement of the danger these weapons pose to civilians.”

Human Rights Watch has confirmed that the cluster munition remnants shown in the videos are Soviet-made RBK-250 series cluster bomb canisters and AO-1SCh fragmentation bomblets. It is not known at this time from where Syria acquired them.

For Mines Action Canada this tragedy further underlines the need for all production and trade of cluster bombs to end now. The use in Syria highlights the need for Canada to amend Bill S-10 making it clear that Canada opposes all use of this banned weapon. MAC calls on all countries to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions and to end for all time the unacceptable harm to innocent civilians caused by cluster bombs.

“As we have seen in Lao PDR, Lebanon, Iraq, Serbia and elsewhere, cluster munitions have a devastating impact, both at the time of use and for years after a conflict ends and they will only prolong civilian suffering in Syria. It is for this reason cluster bombs have been recognised as unacceptable – under all circumstances – and banned by the vast majority of the world,” said Amy Little, Campaign Manager of the Cluster Munition Coalition.

“The footage of people – even children – handling unexploded submunitions in Syria is of massive concern. Not only must all use of cluster munitions in Syria stop, but these unexploded submunitions need to be cleared and destroyed immediately, and clear warnings given out about the terrible danger they pose,” added Little.

Mines Action Canada calls on the Government of Canada to support risk education, clearance operations and victim assistance in Syria as soon as the situation permits. Canada could begin to fund emergency risk education in refugee camps and through media immediately.

Impressive Progress on Total Ban on Cluster Bombs
Rapid destruction of stockpiles is saving lives

(London, 6 September 2012): Governments that have joined the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions have destroyed nearly 750,000 cluster munitions containing 85 million submunitions to date, according to Cluster Munition Monitor 2012, a global report released today in London.

“The impressive number of stockpiled cluster bombs destroyed under the Convention on Cluster Munitions demonstrates just how committed governments are to rapidly implementing this treaty,” said Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch, final editor of Cluster Munition Monitor 2012. “It is proving to be a milestone in humanitarian disarmament diplomacy, and the hold-out states that have not yet joined need to get on the right side of history,” Wareham said.

Cluster Munition Monitor 2012 is being launched by the international Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) in advance of the convention’s Third Meeting of States Parties, which opens in Oslo, Norway on Tuesday, 11 September. A total of 111 countries have joined the Convention, of which 75 have ratified or acceded, becoming full States Parties.

The report cites the serious allegations of new use of cluster munitions in Syria and Sudan as the most disturbing developments of the year. The allegations have not yet been confirmed, but are considered credible by the Monitor. Neither state has joined the ban convention.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions, which entered into force on 1 August 2010, comprehensively prohibits the use, production, transfer, and stockpiling of cluster munitions. It also requires destruction of stockpiled cluster munitions within eight years, clearance of cluster munition remnants within 10 years, and assistance to victims, including those killed or injured by submunitions as well as their families and affected communities.

According to the report:

In addition, the report finds that:

The report shows that the vast majority of countries that have not yet joined the convention are acting consistently with its provisions. All countries are invited to attend the Third Meeting of States Parties of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo, regardless of whether they have signed or ratified the Convention.

“This report clearly demonstrates that the Convention on Cluster Munitions is already achieving its aim to stop the suffering caused by cluster munitions. We urge all states to join this important convention and engage in its work,” said Laura Cheeseman, Director of the Cluster Munition Coalition, the civil society campaign working for universalization and implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

“Every country must contribute to the eradication of these weapons if it is committed to preventing civilian harm during and after armed conflict,” Cheeseman said.

Although the report contains a great deal of good news, Canadians will be disappointed to learn that many of the concerns expressed in the report relate to Canada. “The report notes several issues of concern with Canada’s draft Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act which was given first reading in the Senate in April 2012” stated Paul Hannon, Executive Director of Mines Action Canada. “This legislation could allow Canadian Forces personnel to ‘direct or authorize’ or ‘expressly request’ the use of cluster munitions in joint operations by a country which has not joined the treaty. Clearly that is inconsistent with both the spirit and the letter of the international treaty which aims to ban cluster munitions for all time,” he added.

This is the third Cluster Munition Monitor report. It is the sister publication to the Landmine Monitor report, which has been issued annually since 1999. Cluster Munition Monitor reviews cluster munition ban policy as well as use, production, trade, and stockpiling in every country in the world. It also includes information on cluster munition contamination and casualties, as well as clearance and victim assistance. Baseline data is available in online Country Profiles, while the overviews provide global analysis and findings. The report focuses on calendar year 2011, with information included up to July 2012 when possible.

Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor is coordinated by an Editorial Board comprised of five non-governmental organizations: Action on Armed Violence, Handicap International, Human Rights Watch, Mines Action Canada, and Norwegian People’s Aid. Created in June 1998 by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), 1997 Nobel Peace Prize co-laureate, the Monitor now serves as the research arm of both the ICBL and the Cluster Munition Coalition.

Links:

Ends

Stop funding cluster bomb producers Global report shows progress made but billions still invested in companies producing weapons banned by most of the world

(Ottawa, 14 June 2012): Mines Action Canada (MAC) is calling on the Canadian government to ban investments in companies producing cluster bombs, following news that billions of dollars are still being invested in producers of these weapons. Mines Action Canada is the Canadian member of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) and shares the CMC’s view that countries that have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions have a legal obligation to halt such investments.

The “Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions, a shared responsibility” report by CMC members IKV Pax Christi and FairFin, launched today in Berlin, shows that since 2009 banks and other financial institutions from 16 countries have invested more than $43billion (USD) in companies making cluster bombs.

The bulk of these investments come from states that have not yet joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), the global ban that prohibits the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster bombs, as well as assistance in any of these acts.

“It is encouraging that an increasing number of banks are pulling funds from cluster bomb producers, and that countries are legislating to prevent this practice, but this report clearly shows that more needs to be done,” said Laura Cheeseman, Director of the CMC.

“Most of the world has banned cluster bombs because of the severe and long-lasting impact they have, but even some countries that have joined the Convention are still allowing money to be invested in their production. The only way to prevent this is to explicitly legislate against it,” Cheeseman added.

Today campaigners in Canada are joining CMC colleagues in Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland, the UK and elsewhere to urge their governments to take this step. They are also urging banks and financial institutions to recognize that their customers do not want their money being invested in deadly, indiscriminate weapons that have been banned by most of the world because of the devastation they cause.

Under the legal obligations of the Convention, states that have joined are not only legally bound to cease making cluster bombs themselves but also never to assist, encourage or induce anyone else to do so. While some States Parties to the Convention have enacted national laws that prohibit public or private financial institutions from providing such assistance, many others have not yet taken this step.

The Hall of Shame in IKV Pax Christi and FairFin’s report contains information about 137 banks and financial institutions that invest in producers of cluster bombs. Of these, three come from Canada which has signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions and is now in the process of ratifying the international treaty, A further 24 banks and financial institutions come from the following eight other states that have joined the CCM: States Parties France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the UK, and signatories Australia, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland .

Mines Action Canada is today calling on the federal government to amend its draft national legislation to ensure that it would explicitly make this activity illegal. Three Canadian financial institutions Manulife Financial, the Royal Bank of Canada and Sun Life Financial have made the “Hall of Shame” in the IKV Pax Christi and FairFin report. “It is clear from this report that the Canadian government needs to make it very clear in its national legislation that investing in producers of cluster munitions, which are a banned weapon, is a form of assistance which is prohibited by the international treaty Canada is about to ratify.” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director of Mines Action Canada.

Although today’s report contains disconcerting news, it also shows that progress is being made – both by states and financial institutions – to work towards a world where no more cluster bombs are produced.

Most recently Italy has joined Belgium, Ireland, Luxemburg and New Zealand as countries that have national legislation in place making it illegal to invest in companies that make cluster bombs. This year The Netherlands and global banking capital Switzerland have also begun the process to enact similar legislation, showing that with political will these investments can be banned. In further promising moves, 21 other states have made statements saying they deem investment in cluster bomb producers to be banned under the Convention, but have yet to follow these statements up with concrete law.

“There is still far too much money being invested in companies that make cluster bombs, but we are also pleased to see the positive steps being made. We congratulate both the states and the financial institutions that have cleaned up their act to make the world a safer place for innocent civilians this year and are hopeful that this trend continues, with Canadian institutions joining the “Hall of Fame” in the near future.” said Hannon.

ENDS

Paul Hannon, Executive Director, Mines Action Canada
Phone: +1 613 241-3777
Cell: +1 613 851-5430

 

International Concern Grows Over Canadian Legislation

Civil society around the world is speaking out against Canada’s weak cluster munition bill.

(May 30, 2012 – Ottawa) Today, civil society organizations in more than 15 countries from Afghanistan to the United Kingdom are starting to meet with and write to Canadian representatives abroad to share their concerns about Canada’s weak draft cluster munition legislation. Canada’s allies, cluster munition victims and other civil society organizations are concerned that the draft legislation will undermine the humanitarian purpose of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and damage International Humanitarian Law. These global voices will be joining Canadians from across the country who are asking Parliamentarians to amend this legislation to protect the lives of civilians during and after conflicts.

The Canadian government recently tabled draft legislation in the Senate to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions, an international treaty Canada signed in 2008. The treaty is first and foremost about ending the harm caused by an indiscriminate and imprecise weapon – cluster munitions. The Convention is a total ban on cluster munitions with no exceptions and no reservations in order to protect innocent civilians. The priority must always be to end the use, production, transfer and stockpiling of cluster munitions and to support the survivors of these inhumane weapons. However, Canada’s legislation falls short of this worthy goal by creating loopholes and exemptions. The current draft legislation may inadvertently allow Canadians to assist or be involved in the use of a banned weapon.

Civil society organizations in the international Cluster Munition Coalition believe that with its loopholes and exceptions Canada’s draft legislation will undermine the Convention on Cluster Munitions and is contrary to the spirit and intention of the treaty.

“These weapons are outlawed because of their indiscriminate nature and devastating consequences for civilians," said Laura Cheeseman, director of the CMC.

"In its current form, this legislation leaves open the possibility of Canadian Forces personnel using cluster bombs and isolates Canada among other States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions especially its NATO allies. Buckling under pressure from the US is unnecessary and runs counter to the purpose of the treaty," Cheeseman added.

Canada was widely expected to be a global leader on this issue but the draft legislation has been seen as a disappointment. Global civil society wants Canada to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions and officially ban a weapon whose casualties are 98% civilian, but they are calling on Canada to do so in a manner that does not jeopardize International Humanitarian Law or undermine the strength of the Convention.

“Canada never used or produced cluster munitions and we have a strong history of protecting civilians during and after conflict as shown by our leadership in the creation of the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines, so it is difficult to imagine why Canada could have the worst legislation in the world on cluster munitions,” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director of Mines Action Canada.

“This action by civil society across the globe shows that the world is watching Canada’s actions on this issue very closely and hoping that it will return to a position of leadership on humanitarian issues,” Hannon added.

Canadians can make their voices heard as well by signing a petition online at http://bit.ly/fixthebillca et en français http://bit.ly/changerleprojetdeloi.

ENDS

Contact:

Paul Hannon, Executive Director
Mines Action Canada
Phone: +1 613 241-3777
Cell: +1 613 851-5430
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Interview opportunities with campaigners participating in this action overseas are available.

Notes to editors:

About cluster bombs:

A cluster munition (or cluster bomb) is a weapon containing multiple - often hundreds - of small explosive submunitions or bomblets. Cluster munitions are dropped from the air or fired from the ground and designed to break open in mid-air, releasing the submunitions over an area that can be the size of several football fields. They cannot discriminate between civilians and soldiers. Many of the submunitions fail to explode on impact and remain a threat to lives and livelihoods for decades after a conflict.

About the Convention on Cluster Munitions:

The Convention on Cluster Munitions bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions and requires countries to clear affected areas within 10 years and destroy stockpiles of the weapon within eight. The Convention includes groundbreaking provisions requiring assistance to victims and affected communities. Signed in Oslo in December 2008, the Convention entered into force as binding international law on 1 August 2010. A list of countries which have signed and ratified the treaty can be accessed here www.stopclustermunitions.org/treatystatus

About Mines Action Canada:

Formed in 1994 Mines Action Canada (MAC) is a coalition of Canadian non-governmental organizations concerned with the human and socio-economic impacts of landmines and other weapons causing similar humanitarian impacts. It is the Canadian partner of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), the 1997 co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and is also a founding member of the Cluster Munition Coalition.

Mines Action Canada (MAC), has launched a new video to teach Canadian youth about the impact landmines have on their peers around the world and to inspire Canadians to help close the book on landmines. The video can be found online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3qsRVdKOZg

 

New video calls on Canadian youth to take action and close the book on landmines

Mines Action Canada (MAC), has launched a new video to teach Canadian youth about the impact landmines have on their peers around the world and to inspire Canadians to help close the book on landmines. The video can be found online at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3qsRVdKOZg

The video was created in partnership with Not Your Average Communications and Kicker Productions both based in Calgary with funding from the Government of Canada. "Kicker is thrilled to have produced this important web video for MAC,” said Paul Bzeta, managing director with Kicker Productions. “Our team really dove into the project, learned a lot about the devastating impact of these mines and unexploded devices.  And we came away hopeful that this project can help raise awareness of the terrific work MAC is doing around the globe."

Originally previewed to Members of Parliament on April 4, International Mine Action Day, The Ripple Effect depicts one of the saddest chapters in the human story and shares the triumph of one young man in Cambodia who has made the transition from landmine victim to confident anti-landmine campaigner.

“We wanted to paint a clear picture of how landmines have a ripple effect on entire countries that are contaminated by these indiscriminate weapons,” said Jo Williams, principal at Not Your Average Jo Communications. “We did this by highlighting the dangers of landmines through the true story of one Cambodian boy,” said Williams. “But we also took a broader look at how these weapons reach beyond the individual, impacting families, communities and a country’s entire GDP. Our goal is to increase understanding of solutions that exist today, and translate that knowledge into action.” 

Canada and Canadians from all walks of life have a long history of leadership on the landmine issue and with the 20th anniversary of the campaign to ban landmines approaching, MAC is issuing a call to action for Canadian youth to finish the job and ensure that the landmine problem is solved in their lifetime. “In the past twenty years, landmines have been banned and the number of casualties each year has dropped from over 20,000 to 4,200, but the job is not yet finished. Young people are the key to keeping the landmine issue in the spotlight and ensuring that Canada continues to be a world leader in the movement to ban landmines,” said Paul Hannon, Executive Director of Mines Action Canada.

By sharing this video, learning more and volunteering with MAC, young Canadians can be part of the solution and make landmines history. To learn more visit www.minesactioncanada.org to see how you can help with 5 minutes, 30 minutes or a larger time commitment.

 

 
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A Big Thanks to All Bomb Appetit! Pub Night Supporters!

Mines Action Canada’s Ottawa volunteer chapter recently hosted a fundraising/awareness-raising pub night as part of the numerous events that the chapter staged across the city to help mark Canadian Landmine Awareness Week. The event, held at The Standard Tavern on Elgin Street, included a special mine action-themed drink menu to help set the tone and raise additional funds. This event was very well attended by both new and old supporters of Mines Action Canada, and brought in more than $700 in entrance tickets alone. The most exciting part of the night was the prize draw. The volunteer chapter obtained some wonderful donations from a wide range of merchants from across the Ottawa area.

Mines Action Canada would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the night’s diverse sponsors. First, and foremost, a heartfelt thanks to The Standard Tavern, which served as the backdrop for the fundraiser. The Standard team really got behind this event, and their efforts were fundamental to making the night so memorable.

We would of course also like to thank all of the local businesses that donated items for the prize draw, including: Starbucks, Life of Pie, Taylor’s Genuine Food & Wine Bar, Great Canadian Theatre Company, Credible Edibles, Heavens to Betsy Nic Nac Bonanza, Empire Cinemas, The Flour Shoppe, Tennessy Willems Wood Oven Pizza, Sisters’ Sweets Bakery, the Mud Oven and Kunstadt Sports.

Mines Action Canada would like to pay special thanks to Condoasis who kindly donated our grand prize for the draw - a weekend condo rental at Mt. Tremblant.

Lastly, and most importantly, the entire team at Mines Action Canada would like to extend both a huge thank you and congratulations to the Ottawa volunteer chapter for creating such a tremendous event!!