The Canadian role in the campaign to ban anti-personnel Landmines
By Peter Reat Gatkuoth
Throughout the continents, Canada enjoys a positive international reputation in relation to human rights, peacekeeping and human security. The world generally perceive Canada as a nation with human face that protect its own citizens while pursuing international relations through policies designed to promote human right in all countries around the world. Hence, the scope of this analysis will examine why Canadian foreign policy made an effort to promote the banning policies of anti-personnel landmine throughout the continents? What were the implications of proposed anti-personnel landmines banning policies in the world? And what are the outcomes of the campaign agreed by the coalition of international organizations, and the international community across the world?
Year by years, Canadian foreign affairs participation in human rights, human security and peacekeeping mission has been constantly in high ranks. It is policy always aims and seeks to “use what influence it may have in different conflict-zones around the world. They prevent further bloodshed; promote negotiations between warring parties and restore stability in the regions” (www.un.int/canada/html). Since the Second World War, Canada organizations and humanitarian agency were all in place helping victims of war, and war related issue. It has been clear and known that their role in peacekeeping support, human security and human right has a great connection with the issue of disarmament, landmines clearance, and other issue facing humans across the world. This believes and traditional values are the factors that usually allow them to participate in the landmines campaigns internationally.
Canada has also been a member of “the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons” (CCW) since the end of the Second World War (Carmen et all, 255). This organization addresses the humanitarian concerns, civilians concerns about the cluster bombs used in the war by the military army. It has been known that most civilian were the once facing those dangers.
When the cluster bombs were first used in the “Second World War by the Germans against the British in the north of England, the British reportedly enforced a ban on reporting to try to stop the Germans from finding out how much damage these bomblets had caused, not because of their effectiveness in damaging military operations, but for the significant disruptions and damage to the civilians populations” (Carmen et all, 245).
This chorological use of the bombs had also happened in the South Asia during the earlier years of 1960s. It has been reported that the US had bombed Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and million of the bombs were drop aftermath by many nations. These constant attacks of bomb and the use of landmines in war field had brought many questions to why we are using the weapons that mostly target the children, women or civilian in general than the people intended to be targeted.
When the CCW “failed repeatedly to addresses the cluster bombs since its inception,” Canadian has brought the question into the world’s table through international organizations about how they can speed up the concerns that mainly target the innocent people across the globe (Carmen et all, 34). The failure of CCW was caused by the fact that most of the UN members including the US were amongst the landmine producers and some opposed the ideas and planed that aim to stops the cluster bomb’s productions, and landmines use. This questions of why the CCW fail to address the concerns of the use of weapons came when the organizations has slowly addressed the same “foreseeable consequences for civilians in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kuwait, Sudan and so forth” (www.apminebanconvention.org).
“Many organizations, most notable ICRC was unhappy with CCW failure, and the conventions conducted after the war in Bosnia because it focuses on the military as opposed to the humanitarian aspects of these weapons. The protocol did not contain provision regarding the productions, sale, or possession of landmines. It said nothing about the use of these weapons in intrastate; and contain no verification” (Hampton et all, 83).
As a result of the failure of CCW, Canada and the other nations pushed harder to create a new organization that aims to speed up the process. Then Canada formed the Mines Action Canada (MAC) to “advocate for prohibition on cluster bomb” (Carmen et all, 49). MAC and “the groups of other concerned non-governmental organizations around the globe founded the Cluster Munitions Coalition.” This organization’s aim and goals is to “protect the civilian from the effects of cluster munitions which it works toward by educating the public about the preventable harm caused to civilians, and also work with government to create a new treaty prohibiting the use” ( www.fcnl.org, 2004).
The uses of landmines in warfare and in developing nations have a long and terrible consequence which forces most of the country to intervene. A part from the legitimate use of them in an armed conflict, the danger of landmines to civilians in the aftermath of hostilities presents a uniquely insidious problem. Anti-personnel landmines are widely considered to be ethically problematic weapons because their victims are commonly civilians who are often killed or maimed long after a war has end. This suffering of humans forced many developed countries such as Canada, Norway and other to ask and announce an international call to form a conference call Ottawa Conventions on landmines.
Furthermore, the Canadian safety and humanitarian organization in the landmines field or in the developing countries brought the government into close negotiation with the organizations for their safety in the fields. These concerns addressed to the government were some of the most concerned issue that also stirs the Canadian foreign affair to intervene deeply. It has been reported that most Canadian organization such as ICRC which use to work with military has deeply report their regret to help some of the country because the more they intervene in the war zone, the more they will be target between the warring parties and civilians.
ICRC is “quasi-governmental, neutral and from its earliest days, worked closely with national militaries to establish rights of wounded and non-combatants” (Hampson et all, 82). “The first call for a landmine ban came from a quasi-intergovernmental body, international committee of the Red cross in the 1970s to reinvigorate the century-old tradition of international humanitarian law” (Hampson et all, 81).
Because Anti-personnel landmine does not know when a cease-fire has been called, it cannot distinguish between parties to the conflict, NGOs or between an armed soldier, and unarmed civilians, nor between men, women and children. Most of the organizations were noticed to face the same problem like the civilian or the people intent to use them purposefully. It is acknowledged that “the actual human tragedy and suffering caused by each mine remain the same and similar to all” (www.gicld.org). Violence of landmines against humanitarian agency, women or children knows no boundaries to who aim for help or calm that situation, not of color, ethnicity, class, or religion.
In most instant, some accounts place the origin of the landmine in China in the third century A.D. In ancient Rome and Medieval Europe buried spikes were used in warfare. The first modern “subsurface, fused, high-explosive anti-personnel landmines” were created by the Imperial Germany in 1912 and were soon copied by the all combatants of the World War I (www.wikipedia.org). China, Russia and the United State remain as the high producers of the landmines across the world. When the campaign was proposed, China, Pakistan, India, North Korea and Russia remain in doubt that the Western powers and their allies were deceiving other nations to submit their weapons while hiding their mines.
On the other hand, the US demands and “made it clear at the outset that it was seeking an exemption from the treaty for Korea and a redefinition of anti-tanks mines to fit with the US definition of mixed mines system” ( Hampson et all, 91). According to the first meeting of the coalition organizations, the first concern was about the anti-personnel landmines that aim to kill or maimed the civilian and animals. However, through the conference, it was proposed that the ban is about all the weapons or all mines including “anti-tanks mines, anti-handling devices and self-deactivating mines etc” (Hampson et all, 91).
The conference resulted in the dismissal of the use and productions of the landmines. However, the United State regrets and “proposed a number of major change to the Austria text that would permit the continue use of smart mines along with landmines deployed on the Korea peninsula. They also favored an opt-out clause to withdraw from treaty on short notice” (Hampson et all, 90).
The US concern is that South Korea is engulfed by the North Korea army forces and if their landmines are disarmed, the north will capture the territories of South. The landmines in the South Korea Peninsula stand as an eye watch to the Southern part of the region. They deter invaders and channel the enemy into pre-planned zones. They are designed to be triggered by a variety of mechanisms which includes pressure, movement; sound, magnetism or vibration that can alert the South Korea army.
Although the US were pushing to ruin the policy and campaign, the other state parties who were working side by side with the Canadian foreign affairs, and international coalition of organizations had opposed the proposed amendment made by the United State. “The proposed amendment did not work well with the other negotiating parties and were vociferously opposed by the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), which was closely monitoring the negotiations”(Hampson et all, 91).
While the US government is striving for the end of campaign, its veteran of Vietnam, on the other hand, were pushing and striking for the change and the end of landmines, cluster bombs’ production across the countries. When the US position was acknowledged, many countries came together and opposed “the US government proposal, arguing that there should be no loopholes or exception to the treaty. They felt that a longer transition period and a pull-out option from the treaty would leave too many loopholes and undermine the treaty’s basic premise which was to implement a comprehensive and complete ban”(Hampson et all, 91). It has been said that Canada has also “found itself under strong pressure from the NGOs constituency not to allow the treaty to be watered down by accepting US demands” (Hampson et all, 91).
After all those implication and warning from all coalition groups, the US government dropped some of her demands in “the specific to Korea, and agreed up on nine years period to find a replacement for landmines that would not kill civilians” ( Hampson et all, 91). It has been agreed by the international organizations that if the US government is going to fail not to replace the mine in Korea with the smart mine that would not maimed the civilian within the nine years; they will still withdraw from the treaty agreement.
Although the US government has been known across the globe as an opposition to the de-minding proposal, they were also known as the major funding contributors. In the year 1999-2005, they contributed 81.9 million, and it has been noticed that they are still willing to release more funding in upcoming days. The graph indicate and reflect the funding from 1993-1999. Among the contributors, U.K. and Norway were also well contributors.
The Canadian government has also fund more money. Some money goes directly to the landmines victims such as the funding of Afghanistan mine victims. The below figures indicate the amount pay by the Canadian government yearly in term of clearing the mine fields, mine awareness activities, and victims assistance. This figure does not include the year 2005-2008.
Canadian Mine Action Funding (1993–2003).
Fiscal Year Total Mine Action Funding
1989-1997 $15,300,000 (C$23,100,000)
1999-2000 $16,700,000 (C$26,000,000)
2000-2001 $15,200,000 (C$22,600,000)
2001-2002 $17,900,000 (C$27,693,300)
2002-2003 $16,400,000 (C$24,272,170)
2003-2004 $24,475,151 (C$33,582,581)
Canadian Mine Action Recipients (FY 2003/2004).
Country Can$ US$ Country Can$ US$
Afghanistan 10,023,050 7,296,780 Georgia 94,725 69,860
Albania 200,000 145,600 Guatemala 255,000 185,640
Angola 470,535 342,549 India 47,240 34,391
Azerbaijan 13,720 9,988 Iraq 5,000,000 3,640,000
Bangladesh 17,100 12,449 Jordan 65,520 50,000
Belarus 64,404 46,887 Lao, PDR 235,705 171,593
BiH 1,827,772 1,330,618 Lebanon 2,710 2,000
Burkina Faso 40,000 29,120 Mozambique 1,200,000 873,600
Cambodia 1,632,533 1,188,485 Nicaragua 490,000 356,720
Chad 383,501 281,999 Peru 31,216 22,725
Chile 494,175 359,759 Poland 6,593 4,800
Colombia 450,000 327,600 Serbia & M. 33,594 24,456
Congo, Rep. 44,806 32,619 Somalia 65,000 47,320
Congo, DR 66,580 50,899 Sri Lanka 105,676 76,932
Croatia 27,837 20,265 Sudan 1,563,460 1,149,100
Cyprus 325,000 236,600 Tajikistan 1,747,525 1,272,198
Djibouti 12,284 8,774 Uganda 99,596 72,506
Eritrea 195,000 150,000 Ukraine 55,898 40,694
Finland 7,596 5,530 Yemen 162,780 118,503
TOTAL 27,558,131 20,088,559
These figures indicate the fact that Canadian government has committed in term of aiding these nations, not only to the growing concerns about the impact of the landmines on people and communities, but also it encompasses a wide range of activities such as the “rehabilitation, reconstruction, social and economic” (www.minesactionstandard.org).
The good example is Afghanistan where the Canadian foreign affairs/government had funded the training of the military Polices, roads maintenances, and the renewal of health facilities in the country. One would not surprise to why Jody William graded Canada as standing in C-. This is because there is more funding going out through different directions, and some of these aiding are sometimes considered and summed up together by other foreign nations as an ongoing funding of landmines clearance. It is very true in the above chart that Canada is in good shape in term of committing to the agreement signed by the coalition of international organizations.
Through the conference, it has been highlighted that all government who receive the funding should have dateline to finish their works. Although developing nations work to receive and not to finish the task they have been assigned and promised to, there are a team assigned to monitor the dateline and the operations of “marking, mapping, fenced off the areas that are suspected unclear for mine, and clearing of the mines in the field”(Carmen et all, 286). However, some of the nations such as Somalia, and Sudan are among the top nations suspected of not speeding up the operations of the agreed proposal due to the fact that China is still playing a great role of influencing those who disagree on working proposals.
Through the Treaty and conferences, it has been acknowledged that the victims of landmines, and cluster bombs were mostly small children, women who care for their family. This increase of victims has been constantly increasing because women in developing nations usually go out to collect water, woods, and charcoals in some distances. In most cases, some who were caught by the landmines in far distant alone usually died because there is no help close to them. It has been reported that “women, and young girls are the one disadvantage a lot because the more they became disable, the likely they get marriages or some one to care for” (www.minesactioncanada.org). In the year 2005, it was reported that “the estimate of more than 7,328 causalities were reported across the globe” (Carmen et all, 258). Instantly, access to water, food centers, and freedom to move around became extremely dangerous in many conflicting zones.
During the December of 1997 in Ottawa, 122 nations signed the convention on the prohibition of the use of stockpiling, production and transfer of Anti-personnel Mine into the other areas around the world. As of February 2004, 152 countries had signed the treaty, and 144 have ratified it. It was acknowledged that it went into force when the fourteenth country agreed to its term. Unfortunately forty two nations including the United State, China, India, North Korea, and Russia have not agreed to the treaty. These treaties are part of the international law. They have value only in the extent to which the signing parties abide by their agreements. If there is non-compliance, the historic outcome is usually impunity unless the global powers must decide to enforce it.
The Ottawa Treaty’s signatories bound themselves not to “use, develop, manufacture and stockpile or trade anti-personnel landmines” (Hampson et all, 93). They also agreed to destroy any existing inventories of these banned weapons within a period of four years. The Ottawa conference outcome states its aim, and “its chief goals” is:
to put an end to the suffering and causalities caused by the anti-personnel landmines that kill or maimed hundred of people every week, mostly innocent and defenseless civilian especially children, obstruct economic development and reconstruction; inhibit the repatriation of the refugees and internally displace persons (Hampson et all, 92).
In the year 2004, 37.5 million of an estimate of 48 million landmines had been destroyed by the countries abiding by the treaty. They also proposed and ensured that “countries outside the Ban Treaty abide by the spirit of the agreement and refrain from the use, production, and stockpile of the weapons” (Carmen et all, 453).
For all the good it has done, destroying a large quantity of the world’s stockpile of these weapons had greatly reduce the number of international manufacturers or countries exporting these arms and raise the public awareness. It has been suggested in the conference that the signatory countries must retain landmines for training or use in designing countermeasures. All these treaty especially those negotiated by the numerous different countries are politically documented. It has been suggested that for any “grandiose claims of what problems should be by the abiding nations, the documents will be used to clarify the agreement signed by the international coalitions.”
On the other hand, there are several problems that had been negotiated by the Treaty. It has been noticed that the conferences or delegation from humanitarian organizations focused only on anti-personnel landmines, and ignored anti-vehicle explosives which in practices are hard to distinguish since these devices can be readily adapted for either functions. This issue was also acknowledged that it provide a pretext for U.S. refusal to participate in the international agreement. One of the issues is the exemption of the anti-handling of devices from regulation. These mines are far more sensitive to pressure, weight, touch and vibration than the anti-vehicle. The obvious fear is that anti-personnel landmines will be sold under different names or “marketing categories” (Carmen et all, 243). But there is really no way to see if a signatory country is obeying the rule since it would not be hard to disguise stockpile of these weapons.
The other obstacle and the problem is the murky relationship between countries accepting and those rejecting the ban on landmines such as China allies with the developing nations who accepted the agreements, and Canada - U.S. allies. Canada has a clause entered into the agreement that permitted signatories of the treaty to engage in military action with non-signing nations. The reason became clear after the invasion of Afghanistan when Canada acceded to U.S. insistence that a jointly operated military base be surrounded by the landmines. When one keeps in mind the fact that much of the impetus for this international agreement came from this country, the hypocrisy is ranked and high.
The dangerous and expensive efforts to remove mines and unexploded ordinance from areas are know as “mine action programs” (www.dwb.org). Mines don’t just kill and maimed their victims. When used unwisely, they may have great effect on land use, public health issues, and even national priorities. Cambodia is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world with up to fifty percentage of the nation’s land potentially affected. Although there have been hundreds of thousands of mines removed and destroyed as well as a declining rate of accidents and death, it is obvious that the shadows cast by the wars that have been over for decades is still darken that society. Detecting and removing landmines is slow and dangerous work. Traditionally, it required crawling on your belly and probing the earth gingerly with knife or stick, never knowing if suddenly hitting something solid, it may perhaps be your last living sensation.
The disarmament and removal of the landmines can also be done manually by directing bombs or artillery weapons to a suspect mines areas which is harmful to the other living things because it destroys that areas including the trees or you can remove them by driving special designed heavily armored vehicles like tanks or bulldozers through them.
In many events, disasters and war related events that affect the daily life of human being, Canada government has never been behind in term of assisting the victims, rebuilding and reconstructing the country. Canadian “foreign policies always aim to promote a distinctive role of bring an end to human problems” (www.fcnl.org). “The government had made a lot of diplomatic time, effort and money into making the process work.” They shuttled the world over, soothing angry governments, reminding them of their own commitment to a ban as soon as possible; and work hard to form a core group that was regionally representative and that would deliver the goods (Carmen et all, 35). This commitment is also known in all the leadership in Canada.
The good example is Stephen Harper who has just funded some more money to the Afghanistan landmines clearance. It is commitment and neutrality in war activities has placed Canada as a nation of faith, respect and dignity to the human lives. “The landmine survivors worldwide commend Canada for its leadership to make our dream for a treaty become reality” (Carmen et all, 116). The international coalition of international organizations has often called Canada as “the engine that has driven the anti-personal landmines ban movement”
The result of the Ottawa treaty and the campaign marked “few mine victims after ten years process; more land demined, reduced use of weapons and diminished productions, trade and export.” It has also reported that “a growing number of governments have joined and fully implement the treaty, and greater adherence by the non-state actor to norm against any possession.
Finally, Canadian government is a government working to promote peaceful negotiations between the warring parties, restore stability in the region and globally promote peace keeping nation spirit across the world. It should be praised world-wide for her international reputation standards.
The author is academically educated in Canada. He has a BA in Sociology and Political Economy. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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