By Francesca Davis
"Australia has signed the Ottawa treaty to ban landmines, but has yet to ratify the convention and begin the destruction of our own stockpile of landmines. The time has come for Australia to back its words with action."
So said Sister Patricia Pak Poy, Australian coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, in Adelaide last week. Pak Poy has just returned from Frankfurt, where anti-landmines campaigners from 42 countries have been meeting to plan the next phase of the campaign.
"The Ottawa convention needs to be ratified by at least 40 of the 125 signatory nations for it to become binding international law", she said. "I'm concerned that the Australian government might succumb to pressure that the United States is reportedly bringing to bear on some of its allies to slow the ratification process down for its own interests." The US did not sign the Ottawa treaty last December after it failed to negotiated an exemption for its own landmines deployed on the Korean peninsula.
The ICBL's primary goal for 1998 is to achieve the 40 ratifications and to universalise the treaty. Other objectives include strengthening the advocacy work of the campaign's other two pillars, victim assistance and humanitarian mine clearance. The campaign will also study mine-related moral and legal responsibilities.
Jodi Williams, co-recipient with the ICBL of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, has been appointed an international ambassador for the ICBL. For more information about the ICBL's 1998 campaign work, contact Jim Wackett on 0412 164 579.