The Humanitarian Challenge in a World of Conflict:
Dr. Astrid Nøklebye Heiberg
The Plight of Land-mine Victims
President, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Fridtjof Nansen Memorial Lecture 1998
UNU Headquarters, Tokyo, 4 November 1998
- Welcoming Remarks
- A Message from the Prime Minister of Japan
- Introductory Remarks
- The Humanitarian Challenge in a World of Conflict: The Plight of Land-mine Victims
- Honouring a herio and humanitarian
- A crisis of many dimensions
- Only one solution
- The challenge of demining
- IFRC efforts
- The human cost
- The work ahead
- Personal tragedies
- Closing Remarks
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests All,
On behalf of the Rector and every member of the United Nations University, a most cordial and warm welcome to you all. The mission of the UNU is to contribute, through research, capacity-building and dissemination activities, to the solution of the pressing problems of the day which are of concern to the United Nations and its member states. In doing this, as well as in seeking to provide informed choices to the policy organs of the United Nations and a forum for intellectual discussion among the scholars of the world, the University builds partnerships with elements of civil society. The annual Nansen Memorial Lecture is a major forum for contributing to the informed debate in an increasingly inter-connected world. The 1998 Nansen Memorial Lecture, on "The Humanitarian Challenge in a World of Conflict: The Plight of Land-mine Victims," is the second to be held in Tokyo. It is being sponsored and organized jointly by the Royal Norwegian Embassy, the Japanese Red Cross Society, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, of course, the United Nations University.
The world's moral code is embodied in the United Nations Charter. Japan, Norway and the International Red Cross are among the most prominent moral exemplars in the world today, so it is fitting that the four entities - Norway, Japan, the Red Cross, and the UNU - should come together for this occasion today.
This year's topic for the Nansen Lecture is of special interest to me personally, because prior to taking up my present position as a United Nations official, I was engaged from Australia in the campaign for the worldwide ban on land-mines.
Anti-personnel land-mines are among the real weapons of mass and indiscriminate destruction. They kill many more civilians than soldiers, often long after conflicts have ended. Land-mines have to be outlawed because they are victim-activated; because 80-90 per cent of the victims are civilian; because of the horrific nature of the injuries they inflict; and because they continue to cause death and injury for decades after being sown. The carnage of land-mines is at its worst just after a war has ended and displaced civilians begin to return home, only to be blown up by booby-trapped houses and farms. Land-mines are the weapon of mass murder in slow motion.
Land-mines are a humanitarian tragedy, a threat to peace and stability, and an obstacle to reconstruction and development. In many countries, the maimed survivors have no further useful roles. Rejected by society, they end up as outcasts, sometimes forming marauding gangs of "mutilados." No land-mine is smart enough to tell the difference between a soldier and a child - and that is the "bottom line" humanitarian standard against which to judge these weapons. The so-called Ottawa process was the clearest expression of the will of the international community on the subject. This is why the Ottawa Express proved to be the fastest vehicle available for reaching the goal of a comprehensive ban on anti-personnel land-mines.
The text of the Ottawa Treaty, signed in December last year, was negotiated in final form at the conference held in Oslo in September last year. This is why it is especially appropriate that this year's Nansen Lecture should be devoted to this subject. Shortly, I will have the honour to call upon His Excellency John Bjørnebye, the Ambassador of Norway, to introduce today's speaker to us. Before that, though, it is my pleasure to ask Mr. Hideaki Ueda, of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to read a message to this august gathering from the Prime Minister of Japan.
The United Nations University
A Message from the Prime Minister of Japan
I am pleased to be able to send a message on the occasion of the 1998 Fridtjof Nansen Memorial Lecture.
This annual lecture is held in memory of Fridtjof Nansen, a Norwegian explorer who played an essential role in addressing humanitarian issues, particularly as the League of Nations' first High Commissioner for Refugees. In this context, it is highly relevant that today's lecture by Dr. Astrid N&oslah;klebye Heiberg, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), focuses on the plight of land-mine victims, one of the most urgent humanitarian issues for today's international community. Humanitarian activities are increasingly required in this world of frequent regional conflicts and serious natural disasters including El Niño. Under these circumstances, greater importance is being attached to the activities of non-governmental organizations, including the worldwide humanitarian network of the IFRC.
Japan has been making various efforts to address the issue of anti-personnel land-mines. On 3 December 1997, the Convention on the prohibition of anti-personnel land-mines was opened for signature in Ottawa, Canada. As Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, I attended the ceremony and signed the Convention. On that occasion, I announced the "Zero Victim Programme" to address the issue of anti-personnel land-mines in the future, and also announced that Japan would contribute ¥10 billion (or about $80 million) over five years, with regard to demining and victim assistance.
The Phnom Penh International Forum on Demining and Victim Assistance was held in Cambodia on 26-28 October to allow affected countries to share their experiences regarding demining and to promote the active involvement of all such countries. The Japanese government sent Mr. Machimura, State Secretary of Foreign Affairs, to attend the Forum.
Working together with the countries concerned as well as with international and non-governmental organizations, Japan will continue its efforts toward effective universal prohibition of anti-personnel land-mines, as well as its support for demining and victims assistance.
In concluding my message, I would like to say that I hope today's important lecture will provide an opportunity for more people to take an interest in humanitarian issues, particularly the issue of land-mines.
Prime Minister of Japan
Excellencies; Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me first to express my deep gratitude to Prime Minster Obuchi, for his encouraging message to us on this highly important issue.
I would also like to thank the UN University, through its Rector, Dr. van Ginkel, and its Vice-Rector, Dr. Thakur, for accepting so generously to host, for the second time, the annual Fridtjof Nansen Memorial Lecture. The first time was in 1995, when then Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jan Egeland, shared with us his inside experience of the Oslo agreements aiming at peace in the Middle East. I am equally indebted to The Red Cross Society of Japan, our co-host for the Lecture, whose president Mr. Fujimori and vice-president Mr. Konoe have given us invaluable assistance throughout the planning process; and to the Gaimusho, through Director General Ueda of the Department of Multilateral Cooperation.
These annual Lectures, sponsored by the Norwegian Government, are held in Tokyo and other major cities around the world, on or around the birthday of Fridtjof Nansen, October 10th. Dr. Nansen was an eminent explorer and scientist, diplomat, statesman and humanitarian who, in addition to exploring the Arctic regions, directed the large scale humanitarian relief operations in the wake of the Russian revolution and World War I. This won him the gratitude of millions of refugees and displaced persons, as well as the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922. Fridtjof Nansen was also a founding father of the League of Nations and its first High Commissioner for Refugees.
This year's Memorial Lecture will be given by Dr. Astrid Nøklebye Heiberg, recently elected president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
She will focus on the humanitarian challenges in today's world of conflict, and particularly on the plight of land-mine victims, as they are dealt with by the Red Cross and a number of non-governmental organizations.
Dr. Heiberg, who for the last five years has been president of the Norwegian Red Cross Society, has a broad field of experience and is eminently qualified to lead one of the largest and most universally recognized international humanitarian organizations in its daunting humanitarian challenges.
Educated as a physician, with a doctorate in Psychiatry, she had clinical training in several hospitals, and was appointed professor of psychiatry at the University of Oslo. In the 1980s, she also embraced a political career, holding leading positions in the Conservative Party and representing it as Member of Parliament. She was Deputy Minister of Social Welfare from 1981-85, and Minister of Administration and Consumer Affairs in 1986. Simultaneously, her involvement in humanitarian issues took on an international dimension. Among other positions, she was appointed as the Norwegian representative in The Council of Europe's Committee on Torture and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners in 1989. From 1984 to 1992 she was Member of the Board of the International Institute for Women's Political Leadership.
I could draw a much longer list of Dr. Heiberg's achievements and positions, on the domestic as well as the international scene. But it is more urgent, I believe, that she gets to speak herself. Suffice it to say in conclusion that Dr. Heiberg is one of the most prominent female leaders in today's world; that she has been called upon to head one of the largest, best qualified and most widely recognized humanitarian organizations of volunteers; and, above all, that she is a genuinely caring, courageous and articulate person who is deeply committed to alleviating the plight of the millions of victims worldwide.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Dr. Astrid Nøklebye Heiberg!
Ambassador of Norway
The Humanitarian Challenge in a World of Conflict: The Plight of Land-mine Victims
Dr. Astrid Nøklebye Heiberg
President, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Excellencies of the International Diplomatic Community and of the Japanese Government, Mr. Chairman, colleagues and friends gathered in celebration of the humanitarian achievements of my countryman, Fridtjof Nansen, including the sponsors and arrangers of this occasion, colleagues and friends from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent and from the Japanese Red Cross, all of whom have been instrumental in working to remove from the earth the scourge I will be discussing; and I also greet all who are here but not from any of the preceding categories: dear guests and friends.
In gratitude to him and to those in my country who continue the celebration of his name and achievements through such activities as this gathering, I want first to say a few words about Fridtjof Nansen and this lecture series.
Honouring a hero and humanitarian
Fridtjof Nansen was one of those born in a northern country who did not seek to escape to warmer places, but became haunted by the mysteries of even colder ones. Born in 1861, he became a giant among his contemporaries. He had several careers and was distinguished in each. And, even more remarkably, he wove his several careers into a lifework that stands out as an integrated whole.
What, then, was he?
Nansen was a scholar and a scientist with a wide range of interests and knowledge. He began as a zoologist, then studied meteorology and the physical configuration of the globe. He became a pioneer in oceanography. His doctoral thesis, which he completed when he was 26, is still considered a scientific classic.
As an adventurer and an explorer, he sought to learn the limits of human endurance before the forces of nature. His expeditions, however, were primarily scientific inquiries in oceanography. At the same time, his dramatic adventures in skiing across Greenland and exploring the polar oceans inspired dreams of adventure in the minds of many Norwegian boys and girls. Norway became independent only in 1905, and our polar heroes had tremendous symbolic value for the new nation.
All explorers, I suppose, are individualists with strong egos. So was Nansen. But he was more as well. While others built their own egos, Nansen built the ego of a nation.
Nansen, however, built more than an example of a hero for his countrymen. He helped to build the conscience of the world for fundamental human rights and values. While he sought some of the world's coldest places as adventurer and scientist the warmth he sought and cultivated was that of the human heart. In that exploration he came to serve in the 1920s as the League of Nations' first High Commissioner for Refugees. His enduring legacy from that assignment, which included the repatriation of half a million World War I prisoners of war then held in the Soviet Union, is the so-called Nansen Passport.
The Nansen Passport is an internationally recognized identity card for the truly lost of this century: those who, for all of the well-known reasons of uprooting and dispersion across the face of the earth in these times, no longer have a home or a location anywhere. The Nansen Passport has literally returned hundreds of thousands of such individuals to membership in the human race. It spared many Jewish people, especially, from Holocaust death during World War II and afterward enabled them to find new homes.
Statelessness, while it continues to exist, is no longer the massive ride of humanity that it once was. Most of us today have long since learned to keep our papers close and our passports up-to-date and thus, no matter where we go, have the security of belonging. Thus, in order to understand the humanitarian triumph that the Nansen Passport was and is, we have to imagine what it would mean if we were to be ejected from our own countries without the possibility to return and had no valid ticket, as it were, to any other place on the face of the earth. Seen in that light, a Nansen Passport is more than a simple card. It is a statement of human compassion and acceptance. It is also a testament to Nansen's own willingness to work hard and long for the rights of others. He offered himself as the guarantor of the Nansen Passport and conducted the negotiations with governments that brought the agreement of more than 50 nations to recognize the passport and accept the refugees who carried it.
The Government of Norway has long recognized Fridtjof Nansen's humanitarian achievements. It hopes that people in other lands might be led to emulate his example of creative assistance to people in need, That is why it sponsors, in principal cities around the world, programmes of the sort that brings us together here to discuss a topical humanitarian subject.
A crisis of many dimensions
I am honoured by my home country to be asked to speak with you on the issue of anti-personnel mines, a topic that I know is a key concern of both the Japanese Government and the Japanese Red Cross.
As I'm sure everyone here knows, a land-mine is a small object that can have immense consequences for people, communities and nations. It is easy to place and difficult to remove. It is a remarkably efficient military weapon that is simple to position, but one whose nonmilitary implications and consequences are extraordinarily complex.
Land-mines are presently scattered in more than 70 counties on every continent. The thirteen most affected countries, starting with those in Asia, are these: Afghanistan, Cambodia, Myanmar, Viet Nam and Iraq; After these follow: Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Somalia, Sudan, Bosnia/Herzegovina and Croatia. The grand champion, if I may use the term in such a chilling context, is Afghanistan, where some 20 to 30 million mines await the unwary. The next most afflicted are Angola, Cambodia, Laos and Iraq.
The cost/consequence ratio of land-mines is mind-boggling. A mine that costs as little as three US dollars to manufacture (around 360 yen at a rate of 120 yen to the dollar) may cost 50 times as much to locate and clear. And a 10-year-old mine amputee will need some 15 artificial limbs during his or her lifetime, at an average price of some 15,000 yen per prosthesis.
Conventional uses of anti-personnel mines have traditionally been to protect military bases and key installations; to channel or divert enemy forces; and to deny routes and strategic positions to the enemy. Recent modem warfare, however, has ominously expanded their role. Land-mines are now used to terrorize and disrupt whole populations, not simply to block or control battlefield movements, as was their original purpose during World Wars I and II. The plain fact is that combatants now use mines, particularly unsophisticated mines, because they are efficient and cheap.
Thus, we may see that the land-mines issue has many dimensions. It is a matter of human rights and humanitarian law; of economic development; of arms control and disarmament; of health care, social services and the environment. No one strategy, then, will find the range of solutions necessary to remove the problem.
Only one solution
What can we do?
First, it has been possible to take encouragement from the so-far largely successful international agreements to ban other weapons of massive, nondiscriminatory hazard. The very few forces that have sought to use chemical weapons since World War I have been roundly condemned in world opinion. In 1992, 157 countries signed a Chemical Weapons Convention whose broad implementation seems promising. In similar fashion, almost no armed force has used exploding bullets throughout most of this century.
As I'm sure most of you know, there now exists the Ottawa Convention on the prohibition of anti-personnel mines. There is a great novelty in the process by which the Ottawa Convention has come into being.
The unique aspect of the run-up to the 1997 Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel mines is that the thrust and the momentum of the movement has come not from States, who are customarily the architects of international agreements, but from the intergovernmental, non-governmental and international humanitarian agency community.
Beginning in the 1980s, the international community has taken increasing notice of the thousands of deaths and injuries associated with land-mines - the overwhelming majority of which have had no military connection at all, but have been of civilians simply working or crossing their land. Most who studied the problem in all its complexities concluded that there could be only one solution: a complete ban on the production, stockpiling, use and trade of anti-personnel mines, combined with destruction of all stockpiles of mines, the clearance of all mined areas and the rehabilitation of all mine victims.
The Ottawa Convention now prohibits the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and calls for their destruction. The Convention was signed in late 1997, climaxing a process in which international humanitarian organizations and some 40 countries, with Canadian leadership, worked to achieve a common goal of a comprehensive, legal, international and global ban on anti-personnel mines.
Representatives of 123 nations signed the Convention. Ratifications and accessions presently total 45, a disappointing number compared to signers, but enough, nevertheless, to bring the Convention into force next March 1.
One of the most formidable obstacles to international action on land-mines has been the belief in military circles that the mines are an essential weapon of high military value and that their military value outweighs their human cost. No analysis of this belief was made, however, until the International Committee of the Red Cross brought together a group of senior military officers to examine the question. These experts unanimously found that what little material is available on the use of anti-personnel land-mines does not substantiate claims That the mines are indispensable weapons of high military value. On the other hand, their value for indiscriminate harassment when used by irregular forces can be high. Their use for population control has regrettably been all too effective.
The military reviewers also concluded that the cost to forces using anti-personnel mines in terms of casualties, limitation of tactical flexibility and loss of sympathy of the indigenous population is higher than has been generally acknowledged.
Their overall conclusion was that the value of anti-personnel mines is questionable (the group underscored this in their report). They found that the limited military utility of anti-personnel mines is far outweighed by the appalling humanitarian consequences of their use in actual conflicts. On this basis, the military experts said, their prohibition and elimination should be pursued as a matter of utmost urgency by governments and the entire international community.
The challenge of demining
Now that a Convention far land-mine prohibition exists, and there is even military testimony to the weapon's relative military ineffectiveness, what are the next challenges to be overcome?
There is a host of practical problems related to mine clearance.
At some point, individual mined areas have to be located and defined. In most cases, this is done by minefield survey and marking teams. The task relies on manual prodding, magnetic detection and the use of sniffer dogs. Then each mine has to be located with considerable precision, a process that takes time and requires delicacy. Finally, the mine is destroyed by any of several methods.
But the destruction methods themselves are usually only partly effective. It is hard to find every mine in a field. Some mechanical means merely move the mines around. Most are expensive and often unreliable.
Another obstacle is the terrain problem. While demining operations are often portrayed as taking place on flat fields, minelaying may be done virtually anywhere - on mountainsides, in wetlands, in forests, on riverbanks and on woodland trails. Another problem is climate. Demining equipment may work poorly on wet ground. among closely-growing trees and in extreme temperature conditions.
Finally, there is no practical way to approach the vast task of mine clearing that faces the world today without involving local populations in the process. And that is where the organization I am privileged to head - the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies - comes in.
The International Federation has member national societies in 175 nations. Each of these national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies shares in the International Federation's worldwide mission to improve the situation of the world's vulnerable people. Each is tasked to serve as a humanitarian auxiliary in disaster and Other emergency to its nation's public authorities. One of our key approaches throughout the Federation is to alert people to disaster hazards and how to avert or cope with them. That is what we as a Federation and as National Societies are doing in countries with major land-mine problems.
In Angola, for example, where 30 years of civil war have left an estimated 12 million mines awaiting the unwary, our Federation and the Angolan Red Cross Society are working together to educate communities near mine fields about the dangers of mines, how to protect oneself against mines and what to do when a mine is spotted or accidentally explodes. Beginning in 1996, a successful mine awareness education programme in two northeastern provinces reached 96,200 people with preventive messages. A similar programme now under way in the southern Cunene province, on the Namibian border, targets a minimum 70,000 people, particularly women, children, internally displaced people and a nomadic population that regularly crosses over a heavily mined border area.
The Cunene Province nine awareness activity is part of a nationwide priority programme of our Federation and the National Society in disaster preparedness. The Cunene activity, moreover, is a partnership of the Federation and National Society with the Angolan national coordinating agency for mine awareness and removal, UNICEF, which has mine awareness programmes in other provinces, and the country's Central Mine Awareness Office, which compiles all de-mining information on a nationwide basis.
Quite briefly, the Cunene programme aims to reach its targeted 70,000 people in their villages. The programme's coordinator and Angolan Red Cross province delegate are working together to form local committees for identification of groups to receive mine awareness presentations and information and to consult on further mine awareness activities in their communities. Volunteer mine awareness instructors are to be recruited and taught in a train-the-trainer format training course conducted as a partnership programme. All teaching is being done in the local language as well as Portuguese. The trained instructors will return to their communities as multipliers to train community committee members as mine awareness educators for other nearby communities. From the programme's sixth month regular assessments of activity and progress will feed into the programme's steady improvement as well as formulation of the national disaster preparedness plan.
A similar mine awareness programme is under way through the Mozambique Red Cross in sessions that employ theater, lectures, courses and posters. To date, nearly 65,000 persons have been reached through presentations in 39 districts of eight provinces and sessions in the capital city.
In Afghanistan, the world's most heavily mined country, our Federation is conducting its anti-mine activities through the 46 Afghan Red Crescent health clinics which are virtually the only operating public health facilities in the county. Land-mine awareness is integrated into the various education offerings of the clinics; some 370,000 people attended education sessions during 1998's first eight months. (More than 1.5 million visits are made annually to the clinics, 78 per cent of them by women.) Mine awareness is also part of the community first aid programme that is based at the clinics. To date in 1998. volunteers from 1,000 villages have been trained to share their skills in the villages.
The human cost
Let me now turn, in concluding my remarks, to the people aspect of the land-mine issue that is the reason why so many of us arc involved.
We have not only to fix things and systems in our struggle against land-mines. We have to fix people, and we have to try to remove the cause of the need to fix them. In this connection, the mine problem points to the need for public health approaches.
First among the mine problem aspects pointing us in this direction is the sheer magnitude of the human devastation already caused by land-mines and the extended period over which that devastation is likely to continue. Hundreds of thousands of people have been injured and permanently disabled. Families have been disrupted, areas depopulated, refugees and displaced people prevented from returning to their homes and the productive life of communities shattered.
The very nature of land-mine wounds, the complexities and costs of medical treatment and rehabilitation, and the structural problems that limit effective medical care call out for public health approaches and disciplines. Mine wounds are no ordinary scrape or bump. They are dirty and contaminated. Multiple operations are often needed to treat and undo all the damage. Reaching medical care for a mine wound may be a long and agonizing journey. Hospitals may be poorly equipped and staffed, and few specialists in blast-related injuries are likely to be available. Children face especially difficult problems - their still-growing body will require repeated operations and prosthesis changes.
The social costs, too, are staggering. Among them are psychological damage, economic hardship especially of amputees, loss of productivity of family caregivers, loss of arable land from safe use for decades, and disruption of trade, transportation and agricultural markets. And in many societies, the wounds became the effective cause of social ostracism. The crises of land-mine injury also overload such medical facilities as there may be, causing care to be denied to patients who could benefit from it. UNICEF says that 9 million children under age 5 die each year from preventable disease, many because available medical facilities are inundated by land-mine-injured patients.
Even if all manufacture, sale and placement of land-mines were to end at this moment, the consequences of their indiscriminate damage would continue throughout much of the coming century. Nations, societies, communities and affected families and individuals - you and I and our Red Cross/Red Crescent organizations - must therefore plan over a long term to deal with the damage already done and restore social and economic health. Hope of a magic, instant cure - the dream, let us say, of the invention of a ray that could bathe every mine-infested area and defuse every mine - is vain. It may indeed become possible to do that as increased attention is paid to the technology of demining. But the human, social, spiritual and economic damage already done will remain, and nations, humanitarian organizations, mine manufacturers and affected peoples as a whole must reckon with that fact.
Thus, we see that the land-mine problem is a global one in the full modern sense of that term. The international donor community will eventually have to bear a great part of the increased cost of relief for mine-ravaged countries and will have to provide additional substantial resources to deal with problems caused by mines. It is one of the dark ironies of our time that some of the largest donors supporting humanitarian activity to overcome the land-mine danger and the consequences of the mines are also among the countries that produce and export them.
The work ahead
It is evident that nothing less than an internationally coordinated, long-term strategy will be adequate to deal with the land-mine problem.
Some initial parts of the strategy are now in place. A United Nations General Assembly resolution in 1993 emphasized the need to coordinate mine clearance activities and strengthen capacities to solve the problems created by mines. The Ottawa Process has produced, as mentioned earlier, an International Convention that bans the production, stockpiling, use and trade of anti-personnel mines with a view to eliminating anti-personnel mines from the face of the earth.
It is clear, however, that most of the heavy work is out there ahead of us. Nothing much has changed yet except some recognition of the problem and some declaration of intention to do something about it.
And that's probably where things will stay until heads of state begin to tell their peoples and each other that effective action must be taken - as Japan's leadership has done. That's where things will stay until the world's international and national humanitarian organizations stir their constituencies to demand action and give leadership to the kinds of action needed - as the United Nations and the International Red Cross/Red Crescent movement have done. And that's where things will stay until the millions of dollars devoted to the improvement of land-mines' killing and maiming power is matched or replaced by millions to speed up the detection and clearance of mines. The European Union and the United States have set a target of the year 2010 to have the demining job done. But it can't be done without improved technology, and the 2 to 2.5 billion yen that the EU and US are spending yearly on research into humanitarian demining, while encouraging, is a puddle compared to the ocean needed.
And most research currently being done seeks only to improve the relatively primitive means presently available - the hand-held detector, the explosion-provoking machine, techniques of sensing mines from aircraft or satellites, a robotic version of the sniffer dog.
And few have so far given thought to the social and economic programmes that must be put in place to restore the productivity and stability of land-mine-infested areas.
The least quantifiable problem of all in mine areas is one of the toughest and most enduring. Land-mines are basically weapons of terror. Fear of mines, fear of movement in mined areas, and the devil-may-care denial with which many people confront daily danger and risk induce paralysis and despair an the one hand and dangerous complacency on the other. Both are unhealthy and hard to change. Psychological support is an absolutely crucial element of any human service programme in a mined area.
So, my friends, we all have much hard work ahead of us to remove the land-mine scourge.
And it is not only we who must somehow see to this work being done, but our children and our children's children. For the land-mine carries a curse that descends even unto the third generation.
And perhaps no one has a harder part of the job than those who attempt to frame humanitarian policy. Because the land-mine is inherently an enemy of discipline and control: it is easy and cheap to make, easy to deliver and easy to put in place to do grave harm. It is, in brief, a weapon of ease and convenience, and to do anything about it requires that people become aware of how it is neither militarily acceptable nor humanly tolerable.
Beyond all the debate in high places and low, what is clear is that the social, economic and ecological implications of land-mine use in present-day conflicts is a problem that must concern us all.
Absolutely essential are greater awareness and large-scale mobilization among the public - in the manner in which the Japanese Red Cross is participating in the Japan Campaign To Ban Land-mines. It has promoted the ratification of the Ottawa Convention and is urging the ratification of the Additional Protocols of 1977 by the Japanese Diet. In doing so, the Society is joining in the worldwide commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. The Society is also strengthening its dissemination of information about international humanitarian law, planning activities for Red Cross volunteers, young members of the Red Cross and for the general Japanese public. I hope that other Red Cross and Red Crescent societies may do the same in observance of the Geneva Conventions anniversary.
The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs also supports land-mine-related humanitarian activities. Its "Zero Victim Programme" policy document sets forth humanitarian work for land-mine victims as well as mine-clearing activities to a cost of 9.6 trillion yen during the 1998-2003 period. Activities in Cambodia are assigned high priority.
In concluding, I want to return from all of the military, diplomatic, governmental and other considerations that I have touched on to the basic one that makes it imperative that each one of us in individual capacity and in whatever official capacity we may have should take action to eliminate the scourge of anti-personnel land-mines and overcome the consequences of their use that now burden many nations and peoples near intolerably.
That basic consideration and imperative is the human one. Let me mention just a few excerpts from the annals of the land-mine crisis.
In the fertile grazing grounds of Somalia, mothers now tie toddlers to trees so that the young children cannot crawl, innocently but dangerously, out among the more than 1 million mines that have been haphazardly laid there over the last decade. Camels, and the youngsters and adolescents who tend them, are less fortunate, since to survive in the Somali savannah, animals must endlessly search for water and nourishment. The fields are littered with camel carcasses, and stone mounds mark the graves of herders. The towns are crowded with amputees....
In Cambodia, a young woman was taking her cattle out to graze when she stepped on a land-mine. Her legs were seriously injured. Her husband had to sell the cattle to pay for medicines.
In northern Iraq, a teenage boy was walking with his 12-year-old niece in an area that he thought had been cleared of mines. A mine suddenly exploded. He lost his right foot, and she lost a foot as well as suffering serious facial and upper body injuries.
In Hargeisa, northern Somalia, a 6-year-old child picked up an object that looked like a thermos bottle cap. The explosion blinded him, scarred his face, destroyed his right hand and left both knees so disabled that he is unable to walk.
In Kabul, Afghanistan, one-quarter of land-mine victims are women and one-quarter are children 14 and under. A study conducted in Peshawar, Pakistan, during six months of 1992, found that 85 per cent of those injured in mine explosions had been engaged in non-military activities such as farming, traveling between villages and tending cattle.
Is there any normally compassionate person in the world who can deny the necessity to take action to remove land-mines from the lives and lands of the world's people? I think not, and I hope that everyone who hears my words will join in the tide that we and the world's humanitarian organizations and agencies will raise to wash them away completely and forever.
I end with an anecdote of the kind of change we must work for among leaders of all sorts. Elisabeth Rehn, who was formerly the Minister of Defense in Finland and is now UN High Commissioner in Bosnia-Herzegovina, told a conference on antipersonnel land-mines that in her capacity as Minister of Defense in Finland, she had had no doubts whatever that the county's defense system sorely needed the mines. But when as High Commissioner she saw the victims, especially among them the children, she cried, terribly aware of the cruel dilemma which anti-personnel land-mines present to all thinking and feeling individuals. It is a dilemma, I believe, that we can lift from the human heart only by the total elimination from the earth of the too-easy devastating injury that the land-mine brings to all who touch it.
Thank you for the introduction.
I would like to express my appreciation to Dr. Heiberg for her comprehensive lecture on current land-mine issues. Her speech was very well balanced, incorporating various aspects and leaving nothing for me to add. As was mentioned in Dr. Heiberg's lecture, as well as in the Prime Minister's message, which I had the honour to read earlier, Japan has also been involved in global anti-land-mine efforts. I would like to say a few words in this respect.
As Dr. Heiberg mentioned, the anti-land-mine campaign requires long-term commitment. In my opinion, its success depends primarily on voluntary, self-help efforts by the many mine-affected countries including Cambodia, Mozambique and Angola. In other words, the people in mine-affected countries themselves need to prepare comprehensive programmes for demining and for subsequent rehabilitation and social reintegration, and to implement them as an integral part of a national reconstruction and development plan. We call this concept "ownership."
As was mentioned in the Prime Minister's message, the Phnom Penh International Forum on Demining and Victim Assistance was held last week by the CMAC (Cambodian Mine Action Centre), with the participation of more than 65 affected countries and most of the donor countries, as well as international and non-governmental organizations including the JCBL (Japan Campaign to Ban Landmines). On that occasion, Mr. Machimura, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, stressed the importance of "ownership," which I have just mentioned. Ownership should be supported by "partnership." This means the cooperation that the donor countries, international organizations and NGOs should extend to these mine-affected countries. This combination of ownership with partnership is essential for global efforts in response to land-mine issues. This idea was first advocated in the Tokyo Conference on Anti-personnel Land-mines, hosted by Japan in March 1997, and was then emphasized in the Forum hosted by the CMAC in Cambodia as well.
Although field activities against land-mines face numerous challenges, demining in itself does not constitute an insurmountable difficulty. The major challenge lies in the development, organization and distribution of the human resources to be used in the mine action in the specific area of each mine-affected country. In the Forum, such difficulties have been presented by many mine-affected countries including Mozambique, Angola, Afghanistan, Viet Nam and Laos. Indeed, the Forum offered us a great opportunity to share our experiences. As Dr. Heiberg did, the Forum stressed that mine awareness programmes are important to successful mine action.
We actually visited a demining site in Cambodia, about one-and-a-half-hours from Phnom Penh by car, and observed mine clearance and destruction activities. Furthermore, in a village nearby, I was very much impressed to see the CMAC staff members conducting mine awareness training for all the villagers - even the children. This is the T-shirt distributed by the CMAC then. The slogan is written in Cambodian. The CMAC uses these signs to notify the risk of land-mines to the public. Here are brochures prepared by the CMAC. You can take a look later if you are interested. They illustrate very well, for example, what objects should be considered dangerous and avoided. These materials attest to the CIMAC's energetic activities. Thanks to these efforts, the number mine victims has dropped from some 3,000 per month last year to only per month, although this is still a substantial figure.
We can learn from this experience that an anti-land-mine programme becomes most effective when the people of mine-affected countries themselves play a key role in it, based on the concept of "ownership." Japan has been supporting, and will continue to support, ownership-based voluntary programmes in mine-affected countries. As was mentioned in the Prime Minister's message, Japan is contributing 10 billion yen over five years for demining efforts and victim assistance. We hope for your continuous support and welcome any useful suggestions. Besides, the Japanese government also tries to ensure full coordination with non-governmental and international organizations. Related to this, some of the activities of NGOs should be highlighted by Mr. Kitagawa later. Here, I have focused my presentation on the importance of ownership and partnership.
Thank you very much.
Director-GeneralDepartment of Multilateral Cooperation
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
Thank you for the kind introduction. I was very much impressed by Dr. Heiberg's lecture. As I am involved in the campaign to ban land-mines, I have had occasions to talk about anti-personnel mines myself. I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Heiberg for her highly thought-provoking lecture.
I was asked by the organizers to outline the history of the anti-land-mine campaign in Japan. I prepared a primary draft but am afraid that it is too long. It is impossible to speak about the eight-year history in only three minutes. The English translation of the primary draft will be sent to Dr. Heiberg. Here, I would like to focus my discussion on two subjects.
Firstly, I would like to brief you on the JCBL. The JCBL is a non-governmental organization that advocates a comprehensive ban on anti-personnel mines, and consists of a horizontal network of groups and individuals working in such fields as development, humanitarian aid, conflict prevention, peace, women's issues, human rights, medical care, health and sanitation, children, the environment and religion. It works in cooperation with the International Campaign to Ban Land-mines, last year's winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Recent activities include the collection of over 200,000 signatures for early ratification of the Ottawa Treaty by the Japanese government. This was conducted with the cooperation of both corporate and individual members. The signatures collected thus far were handed to Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi on 11 September. Although Mr. Obuchi had been hoping for early ratification of the Treaty from a humanitarian standpoint, he was frustrated at that time by the delay in administrative procedures within the government. Encouraged by the handing over of the signatures, he urged the officials concerned to expedite the ratification process, which was subsequently completed on 30 September. Even though some other factors might have intervened, this is at least my understanding of the course of events. From now on, the JCBL will be involved in monitoring activities to ensure implementation of the provisions of the Ottawa Treaty.
Secondly, I would like to talk about my personal experience. Namely, it is the joy of "encounters" that has kept me involved in the campaign to ban land-mines. Last evening, I had the opportunity of attending a dinner held at the residence of Mr. Bjørnebye, the Ambassador of Norway. There, I learned that Mrs. Bjørnebye had been the chief flutist of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. She left this important position to accompany her husband to Japan, and has now been in contact with Japanese culture for four years. In September, Mrs. Bjørnebye released a CD "Encounters," subtitled "Encounters to Japan with Love."
Just as Mrs. Bjørnebye has found joy from her "encounters" with Japan, I have found energy and joy from my encounters with many people offering their support, firstly for the provision of artificial limbs to land-mine victims, and secondly for the campaign to ban anti-personnel mines. All of these people have committed themselves without any connection in terms of job relationships or commercial trade. Among those who inspired me, I would like to mention three persons. Firstly, Ms. Fusako Yanase of the Association to Aid Refugees (AAR). I first met her in a meeting in which she happened to be sitting next to me. She opened the door for the provision of artificial limbs in Cambodia, and is currently working on increasing public awareness of the land-mine problem as the author of a picture book entitled Not Mines, but Flowers. Secondly, Mr. Eiji Tazawa of Humanitarian Orthotic/Prosthetic Endeavour (HOPE). Mr. Tazawa has helped us to dispatch many young specialists in artificial limbs to Cambodia and Laos. And finally, Ms. Kaoru Komi, who was working as a volunteer for the AAR in 1993. Ms. Yanase introduced her to me. Here, I have a letter with a little piece of red paper attached to it. The letter was sent in September 1996 by Ms. Komi, who was asked by Sister Coghlan of the CCBL (the Cambodia Campaign to Ban Land-mines) to send a similar letter to the Japanese Prime Minister. The note on the red paper says, "I was asked to send a similar letter to the Prime Minister. What do you think?" I did nothing at that time, thinking that such a thing was impossible for a humble citizen like me.
Nonetheless, she certainly infused in me a sense of obligation to do something in Japan in cooperation with the ICBL. Following further "encounters" and cooperation from other non-profit bodies and young people, including some of the leading voluntary organizations in Japan - such as the Japanese Red Cross Society, the Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC), the Tokyo YMCA and the Sotoshu Volunteer Association (SVA) - the JCBL was launched in July 1997.
The establishment of the JCBL has made it possible to send requests to the Prime Minister. Indeed, we have already sent five letters requesting the signing and early ratification of the Ottawa Treaty. I think that these achievements attest to the momentum sparked by "encounters" between like-minded people. However, a spark tends to be short-lived. The most difficult task ahead is to carry the torch until land-mines are completely removed from the earth.
Today, I have had a new "encounter" with President Heiberg of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, as well as with Vice-Rector Thakur of the United Nations University, the personnel of the Norwegian and Canadian Embassies and other participants in this session. JCBL has just set light to the fire of the anti-land-mine campaign in Japan. So, let us work together so that our "encounter" may keep the fire burning.
CoordinatorJapan Campaign to Ban Landmines (JCBL)
It is a great pleasure for us all that we could welcome here today Dr. Astrid Heiberg, the President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, on this occasion of the ninth Fridtjof Nansen Memorial Lecture, which is co-organized by the Royal Norwegian Embassy, the United Nations University, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Japanese Red Cross Society. Today's lecture by Dr. Heiberg, with a timely theme of "The Humanitarian Challenge in a World of Conflict," was highly relevant at a time when conflicts still continue to affect many parts of the world. As a co-organizer of this event, I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Heiberg.
Following World War I, Fridtjof Nansen made possible the repatriation of millions of POWs (prisoners of war) under the auspices of the League of Nations. He also made a significant contribution to such activities as hunger relief in Russia and support for the independence movement of Armenians. In recognition of those activities, Nansen received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922. As was mentioned by Dr. Heiberg, the humanitarian challenge today is even more severe and complex than in Nansen's time or in the Cold War era. These days information travels instantly across national borders and the international community is increasingly willing to find common ground in addressing global issues. In such a world, it is evident that civilians as members of the international society, as well as civil societies - collective bodies of such citizens - should take a heightened interest in global issues and that they have increasingly important roles to play. Their importance in the formation of international opinion has also been increasing. One good example is provided by the processes seen in individual countries leading toward the ratification of the Ottawa Treaty on the prohibition of anti-personnel mines, which was also mentioned in today's lecture.
The so-called "international humanitarian law," encompassing the Chemical Weapons Treaty and the Geneva Conventions as well as the Ottawa Treaty, provides that military considerations should not override the obligation to respect human dignity and that combat tactics should never be left unchecked. In this context, it is quite natural that field relief workers of the Red Cross and other NGOs have been calling for the comprehensive ban of inhumane weapons like anti-personnel mines, which are intended to terrorize and demoralize enemies by injuring people rather than killing them outright. As you all know, voices of protest against such weapons spread across borders and finally prompted many governments to move toward the adoption of the Ottawa Treaty.
Why has the movement for the comprehensive ban of anti-personnel mines become so widespread as to induce governments all over the world to sign the Treaty, including even the initially reluctant Japanese government? This may well be because the end of the Cold War has broken the chains of ideology, opening our minds to the scourge of war and the suffering of war victims. Also, an increasing number of people who are interested in global human rights issues can now involve themselves - and actually have involved themselves - in the struggle to find solutions to such issues. In other words, Nansen's humanitarian spirit has survived in the heart of people, only to pour out in torrents with the end of the Cold War and the progress of globalization.
As a member of International Red Cross, the Japanese Red Cross Society is working to provide relief aid to victims of land-mines worldwide. In connection with the domestic campaign to ban anti-personnel mines, it works with other national NGOs as a member of the JCBL (Japan Campaign to Ban Land-mines) to urge the government to ratify the Treaty and subsequently to ensure its effective implementation. In Japan, it is an historic achievement for NGOs representing the civil society to work together in the traditionally unfamiliar field of international law, bringing about concrete government action. This achievement is all the more significant because it concerns national defense, the most sensitive policy area reserved for the government. This experience will have considerable implications on the addressing of future humanitarian issues in Japan.
Next year, the 50th anniversary of the 1949 Geneva Conventions will be observed along with the centenary of the 1899 Hague Convention. Two additional protocols to the Geneva Conventions were adopted in 1977 in response to the increase in armed conflicts affecting civilian populations, including struggles for self-determination and guerrilla warfare, as well as to the development of weapons. Unfortunately, Japan remains the only major country in the world that has not expressed a willingness to adhere to the protocols. It is definitely not the case that these protocols are irrelevant for a country with a peaceful constitution like Japan, because the Japanese people who are now involved in peace-keeping and international humanitarian operations in large numbers are increasingly becoming potential victims of conflict situations. More importantly, a nation with a nonchalant and reluctant attitude toward international humanitarian law cannot send a resolute message of peace that will make a difference in this world prone to armed conflicts.
The ratification of the Ottawa Treaty was made possible by the dedicated efforts of ordinary people for the abolition of anti-personnel mines, which even changed the course of national policies. We should build on the momentum gained from this precious experience to encourage positive action in addressing other humanitarian issues, including the adherence of Japan to the additional protocols to the Geneva Conventions. In this sense, today's lecture by Dr. Heiberg gave us considerable courage and strength. In closing this session, I would like to wish Dr. Heiberg every success in the future.
Japanese Red Cross Society
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