International Landmine Awareness Day
Is there something you can do? As the UN designation suggests, you could simply begin with awareness, perhaps by checking out the Mine Action website. There is information there about the seriousness of the problem, and ample suggestions how one can provide actual help, including links to organizations like The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (further info and suggestions). The campaigns have had a positive effect, which should not provide an excuse for complacency. Note that, according to the Wikipedia entry on the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty, which "bans completely all anti-personnel landmines (AP-mines),...[a]s of February 2009, 156 countries have ratified the treaty and two states have signed but not ratified it. Thirty-seven states, including the People's Republic of China, India, Russia and the United States, are not party to the Convention [italics mine]." Note also, if it means anything to you, that "the Ottawa Treaty was championed by Diana, Princess of Wales...[h]er work with landmines focused mostly on the injuries caused by them, particularly to children...her death in August 1997 sparked the Government of the United Kingdom and other nations to sign and ratify the Ottawa Treaty...." Way to go Brits!
Of course various forms of landmines, such as IEDs, are favored weapons of terrorists and insurgents the world over, so it isn't reasonable to lay the blame for their continued use solely on the major non-signatories of the Ottawa Treaty. However, these are not the weapons stockpiled and left around the countryside of various nations by the hundreds of thousands. It's worth wondering what vital interest prevents the governments of China, India, Russia, and the US, which have more than ample arsenals of other weapons, from signing on. Again, according to Wiki, "[t]he United States refuses to sign the treaty because it does not offer a 'Korean exception', as landmines are said to be a crucial component of the U.S. military strategy in South Korea. According to the US government, the one million mines [italics mine] along the DMZ between North and South help maintain the delicate peace by deterring a North Korean attack. India has not signed the treaty because it deems landmines necessary to prevent infiltration of Pakistani trained Islamic extremists into Jammu and Kashmir state." Maybe this makes sense, and maybe it doesn't. Just think about it. And have a nice day!