For a second year in a row, the Mine Action Fellows stated that “there is no room for cluster munitions in the future we are building.” It is an important message for the distinguished delegates of the 11th Meeting of States Parties (MSP) to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, this year led by the Iraqi Presidency. It reminds everyone in the room that cluster munitions are a lethal barrier development, and that the youth leaders of today are working hard to ensure that these lethal barriers are removed and prevented from being used.
This September, Mines Action Canada, with the support from the Governments of Canada, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland, sponsored 11 Mine Action Fellows from nine different countries to attend the 11th MSP of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The Fellows had a full week of attending plenary, participating in leadership sessions, lobbying with States, and finally delivering a youth statement which they drafted themselves.
The meeting opened with Mine Action Fellow Siliphone “Anna” Phommachanthone delivering an excellent speech as a representative from the Cluster Munition Coalition. With Anna’s experience being a Lao-American whose family left Laos because of the cluster munition contamination, she was perfectly placed to set the scene for the meeting and brought on the ground experience for the room to hear. It was the first time a Mine Action Fellow was included in the opening speeches of the Meeting, and we hope it won’t be the last because Anna proved that having an on-the-ground youth perspective is a valuable way to open the meeting.
Throughout the MSP, the Fellows met with important stakeholders such as the Director of the Implementation and Support Unit, the Iraqi President of the Meeting, and the Governments of the United Kingdom, Canada and Switzerland. During the Plenary meeting, the Fellows lobbied over 15 States on topics such as Article 7 Transparency reports and universalization with significant successes in getting at least three states to follow up on missing annual reports. The Fellows also met with civil society experts including Humanity & Inclusion, HALO Trust, Mines Advisory Group, and the Cluster Munition Monitor. These meetings were an opportunity for the Fellows to learn in-depth about different countries and aspects of implementation, and for States and civil society to learn more about the Fellows on the ground experience.
The MSP ended with the Fellows taking to the front of the room to deliver a very strong statement condemning any and all use of cluster munitions and reminding the room of the humanitarian aspects of cluster munition work. The statement showcased the Fellow’s diversity, as it was delivered by five Fellows in three different languages (Arabic, Spanish, and English). The room was listening, and they heard from youth leaders that more needs to be done to ensure that cluster munitions are never used, transferred, or produced again. The Fellows ended their statement reminding the room of what they stated last year: that there is no room for cluster munitions in the future they are building.
Today, Mines Action Canada hosted a webinar that featured participants from the G7 Youth Summit in Hiroshima.
Moderated by Mine Action Canada's incoming Executive Director, the youth speakers included:
Rooj Ali (Canada)
Megumi Thurston (United States)
Kenneth Chiu (United States)
Gillian Flude (Canada)
Rooj gave an overview of the problem with nuclear weapons; Megumi shared what happened at the G7 Youth Summit as well as the G7 Parliamentary Summit that took place in Hiroshima; Kenneth spoke about the outcomes of the G7 Summit; and Gillian explained what the G7, other countries, and you can do moving forward.
If you are want to learn more about why the G7 needs to take concrete action towards nuclear disarmament, you should watch this webinar!
In less than two weeks, the G7 leaders will be meeting in Hiroshima, the first city to be attacked by a nuclear weapon. Because of this history, the G7 leaders cannot dare leave Hiroshima without making concrete steps towards nuclear disarmament. To ensure that concrete action is taken, hundreds of peace and disarmament organizations are ramping up the pressure to show that the world is watching and expecting nuclear disarmament to be a top priority in Hiroshima. As part of this pressure, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and Peaceboat organized a three day youth summit in Hiroshima on April 25-27. The G7 Youth Summit brought 50 young participants from 19 countries together to discuss the path towards nuclear disarmament. Our Project Officer, Gillian Flude, was one of the 50 youth who had the opportunity to participate and we would like to share her thoughts on the summit.
My experience at the G7 Youth Summit was as emotional as it was inspiring. ICAN and Peaceboat organized a busy schedule with educational panels; workshops; and a day dedicated to meeting a nuclear weapon survivor, visiting Peace Park and the Memorial Museum. Hearing about the horrors that nuclear weapons have inflicted, on not just Hiroshima but also on Nagasaki and many Indigenous communities around the world which have been affected by nuclear weapons testing, was deeply emotional. These weapons cause an absolutely unnecessary amount of harm to innocent people, and it is so important that they are never used again. Meeting so many other people from around the world who are dedicated to the same cause of eliminating nuclear weapons was inspiring.
The educational panels featured speakers from diverse backgrounds. We heard from Hiroshima University professors who explained in depth the effects of nuclear weapons; we heard from Pacific Islanders who explained the harm that nuclear weapons testing has inflicted upon them and their land; we heard from ICAN staff who explained the strength of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; we heard from a former humanitarian lawyer for the International Committee for the Red Cross; and many more. All of these speakers brought personal experience and expertise and were available for questions afterwards. I was grateful to have the opportunity to approach them and make connections with experts who can help me in my advocacy in the future.
The workshops gave the participants an opportunity to speak and learn from each other. I attended the workshop on lobbying leaders, because next week I’ll be attending meetings with Canadian Parliamentarians and I wanted to be as prepared as possible. In that workshop, we shared stories of lobbying activities that worked well and finished the session by writing a cover letter that we could send to Parliamentarians to share our final youth statement. Another workshop I attended was on social media. In that session, we came up with a worldwide social media campaign for ICAN to put pressure on the G7 before they meet on May 19-21. That session was so fun and it was great to come up with a global social media plan in less than two hours!
We also had the chance to attend a film screening of the documentary “8:15”. This is a film produced by Dr. Akiko Mikamo who is the daughter of two Hiroshima survivors, making her existence a miracle. In it, the story of her father and grandfather are told alongside a re-enactment. The film showcased the horrors that just one nuclear weapon, dropped on Hiroshima at 8:15 AM, can inflict upon a city, and a family. After the film, Dr. Akiko Mikamo spoke and gave us the chance to ask her questions. Dr. Akiko Mikamo will be hosting a global screening soon, so I highly recommend you follow the documentary on Instagram (@813documentary) or visit the website (815documentary.com) to watch the film.
I also had the opportunity to speak at a public event that featured a youth representative from each G7 country. I had the chance to share with other youth participants, the Japanese public, and followers on a live stream about my experience in the last two days and what I will be doing when I get back to Canada.
Although this was all incredible, for me, the most valuable experience was the day we met Ms. Keiko Ogura, a Hibakusha (nuclear weapon survivor) who survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima when she was eight years old. Ms. Keiko Ogura shared with us her survival story, and how she got where she is today, sharing her traumatic story to people around the world. Ms. Ogura believes that sharing stories and ideas is extremely important because this can help people in all different countries work towards eliminating nuclear weapons. She told us that she not only had physical trauma, but also has “invisible scars.” As she is getting older, and nuclear weapons are still not eliminated, her survivor’s guilt is getting worse. So many Hibakusha have worked tirelessly to ensure nuclear weapons would never be used again. They have come so far, with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) being adopted in 2017, but Ms. Ogura knows that there is still so much to be done. She said that whether there are 10,000 nuclear weapons or one nuclear weapon, she won’t be satisfied until every single one is gone since she knows the harm that just one can inflict. She asked us to continue sharing her story and continue the legacy of the Hibakusha who worked so hard for nuclear disarmament.
After meeting Ms. Keiko Ogura, we had a tour of Peace Park with members of the organization that she founded, Hiroshima Interpreters for Peace. Peace Park is the park that now stands only metres away from the hypocentre. Once a dense neighbourhood filled with life, this entire neighbourhood was destroyed along with almost everyone in it when the bomb was dropped. The park is full of symbolic memorials to remember victims, such as the Pond of Peace which honours those who called out for water with their dying breaths. After the tour of Peace Park, we had time to explore the Memorial Museum. This Museum was filled with stories and items that survived the bombing. As you are going through the museum, you are inside dark rooms with no windows. But as you walk out of the exhibits, there is a great hall with windows from floor to ceiling overlooking the Peace Park. I remember feeling very emotional when I saw all this light after all the darkness. It made me feel like the message of Hiroshima is one of hope. Hope for peace, hope for a world where all human life is protected, and hope for nuclear weapons to never be used again. I know the Hibakusha, the speakers, the ICAN staff, and the 50 youth participants including myself will do everything we can to make sure this becomes a reality and all nuclear weapons are eliminated.
And Canada can play a major role too. Getting nuclear weapons eliminated is going to require world leaders to make a change. We can and will pressure them, but in the end they are the ones who have the power to stop nuclear weapons. We need to make sure that Canada knows that they have this powerful responsibility, and should use it wisely. A nuclear ban is what Canadians want- almost all major cities across Canada, including Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Halifax, have signed the ICAN cities appeal which declares that they are anti-nuclear weapons; 73% of Canadians indicated in a 2021 poll that they want Canada to join the TPNW even if we come under pressure from the US not to do so; and at the G7 Youth Summit Canadian youth demanded that Canada sign the nuclear ban.
Canadians voices are clear- and they are saying no to nukes. Canada needs to reflect the voices of their people at the G7 summit.
Do you want to know what the Mine Action Fellows were up to last year? Read our new report on their activities in 2022!
It was an especially busy year for the Fellows as pandemic restrictions eased, and meetings became in person again. Mines Action Canada was able to hold three in-person forums in Geneva, Switzerland and 29 youth from 15 countries around the world attended. At each Forum, the Fellows participated in activities such as attending Plenary, having meetings with States, and holding peer learning sessions.
To learn more about what the Fellows were doing in 2022, read the report here!
On the final day of the 10MSP of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Mine Action Fellows lead by Plamedi from DR Congo and Noor from Iraq delivered a strong statement to the delegates. Here is the text.
Your excellency, distinguished delegates, attendees of this plenary.
We, the representatives of the Mine Action Fellows gathered in Geneva for the 10th Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions,
express our firm commitment and determination, towards creating a world free of suffering and casualties caused by cluster munitions.
We recognize the progress towards the implementation of the Convention, with millions of stockpiles destroyed, large areas of land cleared, and the stigmatization of the use of cluster munitions. However, we are deeply concerned about the increase in the use of this horrible and indiscriminate weapon around the world in recent years, especially in the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, Syria and Yemen. And, we must not forget the suffering endured by many other communities affected by cluster munitions.
In this context, we urge States Parties to ensure the rights of all cluster munition victims, we also strongly call on States Parties to provide and guarantee adequate, accessible and sustainable assistance, including psychological, psychosocial, and socio-economic support and inclusion.
As young leaders, most from cluster munition affected communities, we are very concerned that the proportion of child casualties of cluster munitions increased alarmingly in 2021, rising to two-thirds of total recorded casualties.
We demand the States Parties implement context-specific, tailor-made risk education activities, while taking into account age, gender and diversity, as well as disability considerations.
On this note, we would like to express our delight with the statements focusing on the importance of gender and diversity as highlighted in the Lausanne action plan. Yet, we strongly advocate to see action being taken towards the inclusion of everyone, in making the world a safer place.
We recognize that the Covid-19 pandemic has aggravated economic, social, and political obstacles in many countries. As a result, clearance on the ground has slowed, funding for mine risk education, victim assistance, and field activities remains insufficient, and gender and diversity perspectives have been pushed aside.
We, as Mine Action Fellows, insist that States do not lose their humanitarian path and make the necessary efforts to fulfill their obligations. And we call on those, who have the resources, to increase support for countries that need assistance.
Moreover, we are concerned about rising tensions around the world especially involving non-state parties, which could lead to conflicts with the use of cluster munitions. For this reason, universalization has to continue and States Parties should make it clear to allies that any use of cluster munitions ever by anyone is unacceptable.
We call upon all signatory states to ratify and Non-Signatory States to join the Convention in support of mitigating the devastating effects of these weapons on people’s lives, the environment and the economy.
We also encourage States Parties to promote the convention by supporting the work of institutions, such as the UN and civil society organizations in their advocacy for universalization on the national and regional levels.
We demand that States Parties fulfill their obligations, namely the submission of the transparency reports. We are disappointed that such a large number of states have not submitted their reports for the year 2022. We believe that annual transparency reports are a great tool to show the level of commitment to the convention’s humanitarian goal.
Finally, we would like to thank all delegations that were open for conversation about their states’ positions, and thank the President for meeting us and hearing our testimonies. We would like to express our gratitude to Mines Action Canada and the Governments of Canada and Switzerland for making our participation here today possible, as well as the donors who have supported this program in other ways.
We, the Mine Action Fellows, commit to supporting States Parties and the Convention on Cluster Munitions in achieving our shared goal of ending the suffering caused by cluster munitions. As current and future leaders, we believe there is no place for cluster munitions in the future we are building.
The 10th Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions was the first Meeting of States Parties MAC had attended in-person since 2019 due to the global pandemic and we made sure to make our mark.
MAC hosted a Mine Action Fellows Forum with 22 young people from around the world. These Fellows had training sessions on leadership and diplomacy; heard from experts on gender and diversity; making change and research. They had a Model Review Conference to negotiate a statement to the States Parties and had multiple peer learning sessions where they got to learn from each other. In addition, they participated fully in the Meeting of States Parties talking to delegations about transparency reporting, treaty universalization and condemning the use of cluster munitions in Ukraine. The Fellows also met with the President of the Convention, UK Ambassador Aidan Liddle (see photo).
The Fellows delivered a statement in French and English to the plenary at the end of the meeting which was met with applause and excellent feedback from delegates. You can read the statement here in English or here in both languages. The MAC delegation including the Mine Action Fellows made their presence known by being the largest and most diverse delegation to the MSP. The Fellows were a clear example of how powerful civil society can be with their tireless outreach to governments.
Mines Action Canada also had the pleasure of delivering a statement on behalf of the Gender and Diversity in Mine Action Working Group. You can read the statement here and below is a video recording of Program Manager, Erin Hunt, delivering the statement.
Your support will help ensure we can continue this unique program developing future leaders in mine action and humanitarian disarmament.
In June I had the pleasure of taking part in my first Mine Action Fellows Forum only a month after joining Mines Action Canada as the new Project Officer. The Mine Action Fellows program includes a group of over 80 dedicated youth from around the world involved in the mine action sector, who Mines Action Canada (MAC) supports due to their valuable contributions and voices. Specifically, MAC focuses on including young women in disarmament, since historically women have been excluded from this sector. Gender biases exist in many parts of the mine action sector, and our youth program is one way of countering these biases. These Fellows are either working or volunteering for a mine action organization in their home countries, and many are from mine affected communities. Mine action can include supporting victims of landmines, educating civilians on how to avoid landmines, and clearing landmines in affected communities. This on-the-ground experience makes their input extremely important, not to mention the importance of capacity-building for future leaders in this field of work. Youth of today will be the ones who finish the job, so we should prepare them for it!
Before I took part in this trip, I only understood the premise of the Mine Action Fellows Forum: an opportunity for the Fellows to build their skills, increase their knowledge, expand their networks, and meaningfully engage in international meetings related to disarmament. The forums involve participating in relevant international fora, where governments and civil society gather to discuss disarmament, but also much more. In between meetings, our Mine Action Fellows have the chance to network; speaking to countless experts in the field, as well as diplomats from across the world, to build their knowledge and experience on how progress is really made and build connections with people who are also in the field. Mines Action Canada also organizes learning activities to enhance leadership skills, such as learning more about what type of leader you are. But nothing could have prepared me for how amazing the Fellows themselves really are!
They are passionate about ending the use of landmines, and supporting survivors in their communities. I’m walking away with a deep appreciation of what these youth are capable of -and I can’t wait for future forums!
This Mine Action Fellows Forum took place in Geneva and was held alongside the Intersessional meetings of the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines, also known as the Mine Ban Treaty, and the National Mine Director Meeting. The Ottawa Treaty Intersessionals are meetings related to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty signed in 1997, which bans the production, use, and transferring of landmines. Eighty percent of the countries in the world, 164 states, are now Party to this treaty, making it one of the most widely accepted treaties! Part of the treaty includes a yearly meeting to discuss developments, increase transparency, and push for action. This happens in the form of statements read by individual states, and is led by a panel of states. It’s in between these meetings that the Intersessionals take place. The Mine Ban Treaty Intersessionals are a place for States and civil society to be more “messy” and not quite make decisions yet- then they come back together later in the year for the annual Meeting of the States Parties with their decisions mostly made.
The National Mine Director Meeting is very different from the Mine Ban Treaty Intersessionals. The National Mine Directors meeting is a professional development meeting where mine action workers from around the world come together to discuss best practices. Largely, these meetings involve interesting and informative presentations and then some time for questions and answers.
At the Mine Action Fellows Forum some of the items on our agenda for the week included a tour of the International Museum of the Red Cross, panel discussions with civil society experts, and various peer learning sessions. The International Museum of the Red Cross was a place where the Fellows could take their time to explore the history of aid during dangerous times for civilians. The Museum is very engaging, as throughout your tour, there are life-size video recordings of survivors telling their stories. This makes you face the hard truths of armed conflict. Mines Action Canada also organized two panel discussions with civil society experts from The Landmine Monitor, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, The Halo Trust, and Mines Advisory Group. These discussions were really informal and informative; the panelists talked about the work they do and how they are successful, and the Fellows had the chance to ask any questions they had.
The peer learning sessions are a new addition to the forums after the youth expressed an interest to learn what each other are working on. The sessions included Anderson and Angelica’s presentation on their gender focal point initiative among an Indigenous community in Colombia, and Maria’s presentation on explosive ordnance risk education for children in Lebanon. These presentations were only a small, yet interesting, glance into the great work that the Fellows are doing on the daily.
During this Forum, we also had the unique opportunity to host a reception in celebration of five years of the Mine Action Fellows program. Lots of planning went into this event, and most importantly for the youth, this involved inviting diplomats. During the days leading up to the event, the youth were busy engaging in personal conversations with diplomats in which they had the chance to invite diplomats to the reception and share part of their experience with the Mine Action Fellows program. This was an excellent opportunity for the youth to approach states with something positive to offer, which increased confidence in engaging with States later on for advocacy work. It was important that diplomats were involved, as this promotes strong connections between civil society and states which leads to progress and change. Diplomats were pleased to be invited, and it was a nice change for them to be approached with the promise of food and drinks! The reception itself was a great success, as the Fellows circled around the venue and continued to network with diplomats and civil society alike. It was an excellent opportunity for engagement and celebration!
The Mine Action Fellows are already doing amazing work in their home countries; Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Columbia, and Lebanon to name a few. They are innovative, strong-willed, inquisitive, determined, and fun! It only has taken my first Forum with a small portion of the youth to understand this. Mines Action Canada takes these committed, and energetic youth and gives them an opportunity to be where they deserve to be- actively engaging in meetings, discussing with diplomats, and learning from experts in the field. This is an invaluable experience as it gives the Fellows insight on what happens outside of the field work that they are so importantly engaged in. Returning home with this new knowledge creates an impact in their communities and organizations and learning how to be a part of where many important decisions are made is vital to future leaders being created. It was a pleasure to see how much the youth appreciated and learned from the experience.
Here’s to many more Mine Action Fellows Forums!
Gillian Flude is Mines Action Canada's Project Officer
The 19th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty took place this week virtually due to rising COVID-19 cases in the host country, The Netherlands. Although we were not able to meet in person, the ICBL and the Mine Action Fellows were able speak up and be heard.
You can read the ICBL statements to the Meeting here. The 2021 Landmine Monitor was also released providing in depth information on the impact of landmines around the world and the progress made towards a mine free world. You can access the Landmine Monitor here.
Throughout the week Mines Action Canada hosted a Mine Action Fellows Forum online to promote youth engagement and leadership in the Mine Ban Treaty and disarmament more broadly. In addition to trainings on specific topics related to the Ottawa Treaty, the Mine Action Fellows also wrote and delivered a video statement at the closing of the Meeting. Watch the statement below.
Today, the Mine Action Fellows addressed the 2nd Review Conference of the Convention on Cluster Munitions via a video statement.
The full text of the statement can be found here. Thank you to the Swiss Presidency for working with the Mine Action Fellows over the past two years and to all our donors for supporting youth engagement in disarmament.
In Canada, we are fortunate to be able to live relatively safe lives, the risk associated with leaving our households to do simple daily tasks is relatively low. Unfortunately, not all countries around the world share this same experience. In some countries, even running errands can be considered a dangerous affair due to frequent attacks on civilians. Every year, the detonation of explosive weapons such as grenades, missiles and bombs, kill and injure thousands of civilians indiscriminately with their blast and fragmentation. However, despite this worrisome trend, many students remain uninformed on the issue of explosive weapons. While not occurring on our home territory, the use of explosive weapons in populated areas is a prominent issue that needs international efforts to be resolved. Here are five of the many reasons why students should expand their knowledge of disarmament issues, specifically the use of explosive weapons in cities and towns and what is being done politically to reduce their impact on civilians
- Effect on Civilians: First, the impact of explosive weapons in populated areas felt disproportionally by civilians, rather than military targets. In 2020, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 18,747 deaths and injuries as a result of explosive weapons; of those, civilians accounted for 11,056 or 59% of the deaths. When used in populated areas, the percentage of civilians affected was even higher; in 2020, 89% of those harmed by explosive weapons in populated areas were reportedly civilians. In addition to the immediate civilian casualties caused by explosive weapons, casualties can also occur as a result of a disruption of essential services such as damage to essential healthcare infrastructure. The indiscriminate and disproportionate harm these weapons cause to civilians is one reason that students should pay attention to the issue.
- Urbanization and Increasing Threat: Second, with the tactics of war changing and urbanization trends increasing, civilians are more greatly at risk of being affected by explosive weapons than ever before. While wars were traditionally fought strictly between soldiers on open fields, in today’s world, it is not uncommon for wars to take place in city centres and for civilians to experience harm as a result. Civilians now face the burden of war more than ever before with higher risks of experiencing death, injury or displacement. This trend will be exacerbated by the rapid urbanization occurring in developing nations. By 2030, two-thirds of the global population is predicted to be living in cities; 96% of this urban growth is expected to take place in developing countries in cities that are already at a higher risk of experiencing fragility. Together, the trends of wars increasingly being fought in urban areas, and more individuals re-locating to urban areas will cause more civilians to be at risk of experiencing the traumatic effects of explosive weapons in populated areas. Many students may have friends or family who live in the areas that are most affected by explosive weapons; these worrisome trends may put loved ones at risk of being targeted by such attacks.
- Environmental Impact: Third, explosive weapons have negative implications on the environment. Currently, our world is facing a climate crisis that continues to worsen and accelerate. It is well-known that we are quickly approaching a point of no return for global warming, which could have devastating effects on our planet in the future. Unknown to many, explosive weapons can have devastating effects on the environment in numerous ways. One example of such is how explosive weapons leave behind unexploded ordnance, which results in long-term harm and can cause contamination of water, soil and air for years. In Syria, it is believed it will take more than 30 years to clear the contamination. This contamination can as a result hinder agricultural efforts, kill livestock and cause harmful human health effects. In addition, the destruction caused by the crumble of infrastructure can release other hazardous materials into the air and the ground, such as toxic smoke. With explosive weapons having such negative environmental effects on our planet, it is essential students educate themselves on these weapons, so student climate activists can take these negative consequences into account when advocating for climate action and building their climate platforms.
- The Power of Education: Another reason for students to inform themselves on the issue is the power of education and the positive effect it can have. By educating themselves on explosive weapons and the political efforts being put forth to help reduce the consequences they have on civilians, students can help to create change on the issue by raising public awareness, as well as, empowering more individuals and future generations to explore the subject. Education is believed to be crucially important in keeping peace and reducing future risks of violence and is recognized by many NGOs as critical to creating positive change in the world. Another political declaration, the Safe Schools Declaration, focuses on the impact of armed conflict on education and the military use of schools and universities. It has commitments designed to strengthen the protection of education and ensure it continues during armed conflict and those commitments are having an impact on behaviour in conflict. A political declaration on explosive weapons used in populated areas could build on this success further.
- Immigration / Past Experiences: Lastly, while explosive weapons may not be a large threat within Canada, the country’s large immigration numbers mean that it is likely that most students have a relative or a friend who has in some way been impacted by the use of explosive weapons. In Canada, immigrants make up around 9 percent of the total population, meaning that Canada is compiled of individuals from all different walks of life with different experiences. In 2019 alone, Canada welcomed 10,121 new permanent residents from Syria, that same year, 7,268 civilian casualties were recorded in Syria as a result of explosive weapons, the most of any country. This is one current example of Canada welcoming individuals who have possibly experienced first-hand the negative consequences of explosive weapons. For other individuals, the connection to explosive weapons may date back further to their grandparents or great-grandparents fleeing bombings from World War II or other conflicts since then. Regardless, most students likely have at least one connection to someone who has in some been negatively impacted by the use of explosive weapons, whether they be a friend, family member, neighbour, or simply an acquaintance. By educating themselves on the topic of disarmament of explosive weapons, students can show empathy and compassion for their fellow Canadians who may have been exposed to explosive weapons in their family histories.
It is essential for students to remain invested in the progress being made in the disarmament of explosive weapons. It is through the expansion of knowledge on this subject that progress can be made, so that future generations can live in a world without the dangers associated with explosive weapons that many individuals around the world know and fear today.
Danika Brown is an Undergraduate Student at the University of Ottawa and completed an extracurricular volunteer placement as a Research Assistant at Mines Action Canada.