Football and Landmines, Part 2: Why I Won’t Support Everton Anymore

Football has long had a positive role in advocating against landmines and for the needs of landmine victims.  David Ginola, a Frenchman who played for Tottenham Hotspur, took on the role of being the public advocate for landmines on behalf of the Red Cross, a role that had previously been fulfilled by Princess Diana (The Independent; The Guardian). The 2008 UEFA European Championship sponsored the “Score for the Red Cross” campaign which provided victim assistance support to landmine victims in Afghanistan (Kick It Out).  In Sierra Leone, the Single-Leg Amputee Soccer Club serves as a role model for the ability of persons with disabilities and landmine survivors (The National).  Most recently, Sir Bobby Charlton, a legendary player for Manchester United founded the charity, “A Better Way,” with Mines Advisory Group to raise funds to support the development of new landmine detection technology (MarketWatch).  

More broadly, football has been involved in anti-racism campaigns (Kick It Out) and football stars have served as spokespersons for various causes, like Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast and Chelsea Football Club has done for malaria (The Independent) and Barcelona Football Club did for UNICEF, the United Nations children’s charity (UNICEF).  However, there is a seamier side to football; including accusations of exploitation of young men from developing countries, corruption within the game’s national and international associations and the encouragement of gambling on games and the attendant match-fixing scandals.  I would like to call attention to the role of money in the game and specifically ask the question of whose money is funding certain teams.

At the 1:14 mark in this video, please note the name of the sponsor on the boards behind the goal, “Hanwha SolarOne” (and remember this is mere seconds before Everton scores the opening goal of the game, a true rarity).The game is between Everton and Blackburn Rovers of the English Premier League and was played at Goodison Park on Saturday, January 21st.  I am personally an Everton supporter and have been since attending the Boxing Day match between Everton and Manchester United in 2001 (I think) where, despite the presence of my namesake, Joe-Max Moore, Everton lost 2-nil.  Since that game, I have dutifully followed Everton’s ups and downs and rooted for my countrymen, Brian McBride, Tim Howard and Landon Donovan when they wore the blue jersey.  I personally own three Everton jerseys and a scarf and have proudly worn them on four continents, receiving a few cheers and many more jeers for my choice of team.  This year, Everton has been spectacularly poor, losing to good teams and bad teams at the same pace and normally I would be saying things like, “they’ll turn it around” or “Everton will beat the drop” or “they’re my team, I’ll live and die by them in the Premiership or the Championship.”  However, I stopped being an Everton supporter the moment I saw the Hanwha SolarOne advertisement and realized that Hanwha SolarOne sponsored Everton. 

Hanwha SolarOne is a Korean company that produces photovoltaic cells (solar cells) and is part of the Hanwha Group.  As part of its marketing strategy, Hanwha SolarOne has deliberately targeted European football clubs, including Hamburg SV in Germany, Bolton Wanderers in England and Juventus in Italy, for sponsorship and partnerships (Hanwha SolarOne; Football Marketing). Hanwha Group has entered an exclusive relationship with Bolton Wanderers, but that relationship does not preclude Hanwha SolarOne and other Hanwha Group companies from entering into relationships with other football clubs.  Globally, Hanwha Group, a Korean company, has assets of $83 billion and in 2010 generated more than $26 billion in revenues from its 56 Korean and 69 global corporate members active primarily in the manufacturing, finance and service sectors (BusinessWire).   One of Hanwha Group’s subsidiaries, Hanwha Corporation, makes landmines.

In 2007, Hanwha Corporation produced 10,000 self-destructing anti-personnel landmines, and an unknown number of Claymore-type landmines.  The Republic of Korea remains outside the Mine Ban Treaty and reserves the right to produce more landmines so it is entirely possible that Hanwha Corporation has fulfilled additional orders for landmines since 2007 (The Monitor). Hanwha Corporation’s defense business and products are detailed on their website (Hanwha Corporation) and the following screenshot from the electronic brochure shows some of Hanwha Corporation’s products and some possible victims of those products.

From Hanwha Corporation's Electronic Brochure

Hanwha Corporation’s sponsorship of Bolton Wanderers Football Club was covered by a fan website which also pointed out the connection to landmine production (Manny Road Blog).  At the time, I mentioned the link between Hanwha and Bolton on Twitter, but I did not pay attention to who else Hanwha sponsored in England – although I had noticed that Hanwha sponsored Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in Germany.  Had I followed the story, I would have seen the comment on the Just Another 606 page which pointed out that Hanwha also sponsored Everton (see comment from “exiledboltonian”). 

Knowing what I know now, I simply cannot support Everton any longer.  I understand football teams seek out sponsorship, but I refuse to be associated with a team that takes money from a known landmine manufacturer. Period. Full-stop.  I’ve seen what these weapons can do to children the same age as those in Hanwha’s brochure and am disgusted that the team I’ve supported for a decade is in bed with these butchers. 

I own four items of Everton gear, three shirts and a scarf which I’ve posted to eBay.  Any money I make I’ll give to Handicap International through my FirstGiving.com page. If you are curious, here are the listings: 

Home Short-Sleeve Shirt, Medium, with Chang Beer sponsor and made by Umbro: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=120849156159

Home Short-Sleeve Shirt, Large, with One-2-One sponsor and made by Umbro: http://www.ebay.com/itm/120849159124?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1558.l2649

Away Short-Sleeve Shirt, Extra-Large, with One-2-One sponsor and made by Puma: http://www.ebay.com/itm/120849159698?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1558.l2649

Scarf: http://www.ebay.com/itm/120849161199?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1558.l2649

Goodbye, Everton.  You disappointed me; not as a fan, but as a human being.

Michael P. Moore, January 25, 2012.

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Football and Landmines, Part 1: The 2012 African Cup of Nations

The word “landmine” is often used as a metaphor for something to be avoided and seems to be intended to catch the listener’s ear, e.g., “the landmines to avoid when hiring;” “the landmines to avoid in self-publishing.” In sports, “landmine” is often used to refer to a game in which one team is heavily-favored over the other; the less-favored team is the “landmine in [the heavily-favored team’s] schedule.”  Usually, I can ignore this sort of hyperbole because the teams and places involved have no real landmines, but I saw a promotion for a 2012 African Cup of Nations preview show that I could not ignore:

On Nigeria’s Hotsports television program, “The respected analysts, including Ade Ojeikere, Group Sports Editor of The Nation newspapers, his counterpart at THISDAY, Tunde Suleiman and Biola Kazeem will take the viewers through the landmines first timers like Niger Republic, Botswana and the joint hosts [Equatorial Guinea and Gabon] would have to navigate to edge out veterans and favourites Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Tunisia, Zambia and Senegal” (The Nation).

Niger is in fact contaminated with anti-vehicle mines placed by a rebel group, the Niger Justice Movement, in the northern areas of the country (The Monitor), so the comment that the Nigerien football team would have to face metaphorical landmines whilst the people of Niger face real landmines is frankly offensive.  Other nations participating in the Cup of Nations that are, to greater or lesser extents, mine-affected are Angola, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Senegal and Sudan.  In each of these countries, ordinary people face the extraordinary threat of landmines and references to their teams facing “landmines” in the form of the opposing teams are ludicrous.

That’s not to say that real danger does not exist at the Cup of Nations.  In 2010, the Togolese team was attacked by members of an Angola separatist movement (BBC News).  In 1993, nearly all of the members of Zambian national team were killed in a plane crash shortly after the team took off from Libreville, Gabon (Sports Illustrated). 

So, how should landmine advocates respond to the casual use of the word “landmine” by sports broadcasters?  Why not pick a team and support them based upon the nation’s landmine policies and practices? 

(Note: the following paragraph might include actual football-related information.)

This year’s tournament is seen as wide open with the absence of traditional football powers Egypt, Cameroon and South Africa.  The favoured teams in this year’s Cup of Nations tournament are Cote d’Ivoire (6/4 to win entire tournament) and Senegal (8/1), led by their star strikers, Didier Drogba and Demba Ba, respectively; Ghana (7/2) with its well-balanced squad and experience at the 2010 World Cup; and Morocco (8/1) with the flair of English Premier duo, Abel Taraabt and Maroune Chamakh (Blue Square).  Odds  of winning aside, Senegal is a mine-affected country from its long-running conflict with the Casamance independence movement and Morocco is both mine-affected and mine-laying, using landmines to isolate the Polisario Front in Western Sahara.  But it’s no fun to root for the likely winners.  Here are four teams that landmine advocates can support based solely on landmine policy (although the footballing helps a bit too).

Libya (125/1): The longest shot to win the tournament other than Niger, Libya might well be the sentimental favourite for the neutral watchers.  For many years, the Libyan football federation was run by Gaddhafi’s son, Saadi, who fancied himself a decent player (but wasn’t) and when Saadi was mocked by fans in Benghazi, Saadi unleashed a brutal crackdown and bulldozed the stadium.  In the middle of the 2011 rebellion against Gaddhafi, several members of the Libyan national football team defected to the rebels and helped overthrow the regime.  Those players will be on the pitch in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon playing for the new Libya they helped create (The Telegraph; BBC News).  

In terms of landmines, Libya, under Gaddhafi, used anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines against the advancing rebel forces.  The rebels used landmines briefly before renouncing their use.  Today, thousands of Libyans are threatened by these new mines and until they are cleared and the major roads re-opened, the development of the new Libyan state will be halted (BBC News).  So, for raising awareness of the continued threat of landmines and the fact that new mine usage is always possible for countries, like Libya, that continue to stockpile them, landmine advocates should support Libya’s team.

Angola (25/1): Hosts of the most recent Cup of Nations, Angola suffered through thirty years of conflict beginning with the independence movements against the Portuguese and then the long-running civil war between the government of Eduard Dos Santos and the rebels led by Jonas Savimbi.  Fighting stopped briefly when a treaty was negotiated in 1994, but Savimbi, feeling that the subsequent election had been stolen from him, returned to the bush and the war only ended with Savimbi’s death in 2002 (Wikipedia). 

As I have tried to highlight each and every month, Angola, despite having the greatest degree of landmine contamination of any of the 2012 Cup of Nations participants, continues to make slow, but steady progress towards the goal of being mine-free.  With the help of international operators like Mines Advisory Group, HALO Trust and Norwegian Peoples Aid, but mostly through the efforts of its own National Demining Institute, Angola is clearing minefields and roads to enable the country to develop (The Monitor).  In recognition of continuing progress and dogged determination, landmine advocates should support the Angolan team.

Zambia (16/1): Zambia is the other sentimental favourite for neutral watchers.  The final of this year’s Cup of Nations will be held in Libreville, and the Zambian team would like nothing more than to honor the memory of the 1993 team lost in the plane crash mentioned above by lifting the champions’ trophy in Libreville’s stadium this February 12th (Sports Illustrated). 

In 2008, Zambia hosted the Livingston Conference as part of the Oslo negotiation process on the Cluster Munitions Convention.  The Livingstone Conference enabled some African states, specifically Eritrea, Tunisia and Zimbabwe, to participate in the Oslo process for the first time while also brokering a continent-wide stance on the Cluster Munitions Convention, the Livingstone Declaration.  In the lead-up to the Conference and throughout the meeting itself, the Zambian government strongly supported the movement to ban cluster munitions (Cluster Munitions Coalition), so for that and for its continuing leadership on the cluster munitions ban, landmine advocates should support Zambia in the Cup of Nations tournament.

Tunisia (12/1): Egypt, who had won the three previous Cup of Nations tournaments, did not qualify for this year’s event, but Tunisia, which won the tournament in 2004, did, making them the most recent champion to participate (Sports Illustrated).  Tunisia should also be a sentimental favourite: the Arab Spring started in Tunisia with protests following the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi that led to the relatively bloodless ouster of long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben-Ali and free elections in October 2011 for a constituent assembly that is responsible for drafting a new constitution (Wikipedia).  The Arab Spring events in Egypt, Libya and now Syria have captured the media’s attention, but if one is to celebrate Arab Spring, one must certainly celebrate Tunisia.

In 2009, Tunisia became one of the few countries to declare itself mine-free when it reported that all known mined areas had been cleared in accordance with its Article 5 obligations under the Mine Ban Treaty.  Tunisia had laid mines along its border with Libya and at the southernmost tip of the country where the borders of Tunisia, Algeria and Libya meet.  Tunisia met this obligation without external assistance from donors or international operators.  Tunisia continues to work to clear World War II-era contamination from explosive remnants of war, but all anti-personnel mines have been cleared according to Tunisian authorities (The Monitor). 

So, for achieving a mine-free status using its own resources; for leading the movement that has become known as the Arab Spring; and for having a viable chance to actually win the tournament, I’ll be supporting Tunisia throughout the 2012 African Cup of Nations.

Michael P. Moore, January 23, 2012.


The M18A1 Claymore Mine – A “Persistent” Mine

The United States government published its current landmine policy in 2004.  Some of the key items in the policy include plans to “eliminate all persistent landmines from its arsenal,” “not use any persistent landmines — neither anti-personnel nor anti-vehicle — anywhere after 2010,” and “develop non-persistent (self-destructing/self-deactivating) landmines” (State Department).  The US issued this policy in lieu of signing the Mine Ban Treaty and while the landmine policy is under review by the Obama Administration, the speed of that review and recent procurements suggest that there will be no immediate changes.  Instead, the US Army, while developing the Spider Networked Munition System (see previous post), is also buying a lot of newly-made M18A1 “Claymore” anti-personnel mines, mines that do not have self-destructing or self-deactivating features in the current model.

On February 14, 2011, the US Army issued a Request for Proposals for companies to make up to 255,000 M18A1 Claymore mines for delivery to the Army through April 30, 2016 (FedBizOpps, Solicitation # W52P1J09R0088).  The total value of the contract, ultimately issued to Spectra Technologies, LLC of Camden, Arkansas on June 23, 2011, is up to $100 million over five years (FedBizOpps, Award # W52P1J11D0077). The problem with Claymore mines is the fact that they may violate the Mine Ban Treaty and the intent of the US landmine policy is to put the United States in compliance with most of the Mine Ban Treaty’s provisions without actually acceding to the treaty.

The size, shape and usage of Claymore mines are very distinctive.  Claymores are directional, fragmentation mines that use a small amount of explosive to propel 400 to 700 steel balls across a 60 degree arc and an “effective” range of 50 meters.  US models have the words “Front, Toward Enemy” helpfully stenciled on one side so you know which way the steel balls will go.  Claymores are meant to be used against people, not vehicles and referred to by the Army and others as “anti-personnel mines” (Military.com; FedBizOpps, Solicitation # W52P1J-09-R-0088; FAS).  Because of the effectiveness of Claymore mines as anti-personnel devices, many armies, including the Chinese, Russian and Swiss, have produced their own variations. 

M18A1 Claymore Mine, Photo Courtesy of WikiMedia

Claymore mines historically have had two modes: a command-activated mode and a victim-activated mode.  In the command-activated mode, the soldier who has set up the mine will activate the mine using an electric detonator switch.  In the victim-activated mode, the mine is set up with a trip-wire that activates the mine when the trip wire is broken.  Not being a government contractor, I could not access the most recent Technical Data Packages for Claymore mine specifications (as part of solicitation # W52P1J-09-R-0088), but the basics of the weapon remain the same in the solicitation descriptions.  The most recent description from the US Army office responsible for munitions describes Claymores as “detonated using an electric or non-electric initiation system and is used to deter enemy pursuit, establish perimeter defenses and conduct ambushes” (PMCSS).  In the absence of an explicit mention that Claymores can no longer be activated via tripwires, I am willing to assume that tripwire-activation remains a possibility.

It’s the victim-activated, trip-wire function that makes the Claymore mines controversial.  According to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Claymore mines that are used solely in the command-activated mode are permitted under the Mine Ban Treaty.  In 2003, only Sweden – among all States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, twenty of whom had reported stockpiling Claymores – had taken steps to modify its stock of Claymore mines to ensure they only operated in a command-activated mode (ICBL, pdf).  By 2007, thirty States Parties had reported stockpiling Claymores, but only six – Belarus, Denmark, Lithuania, Moldova, New Zealand and Sweden – had modified their mines to prevent victim activation.  These States Parties chose “to physically modify the mine to accept only electric detonation and some have physically removed and destroyed the tripwire assembly and appropriate blasting cap.”  Some states, including Bosnia-Herzegovina and Germany simply destroyed all of their Claymore stockpiles rather than make the Treaty-mandated modifications (ICBL, Word Document; ICBL). In 2010, ICBL reminded the States Parties in attendance of the Intersessional Meetings in Geneva “to report on the destruction of sensitive fuzes and on steps taken to ensure that Claymore… Mines can only be used in Command-Detonated mode” (ICBL, pdf).

The United States granted an exemption for command-activated Claymore mines in the export ban on landmines in 1992, however, the statements by ICBL and the fact that the model number for Claymores has not changed in many years, suggests that the M18A1 Claymore retains its victim-activated properties. Until the Claymore is completed eliminated or substantially modified to remove the “non-electric initiation system,” a fantastic euphemism for “trip-wire,” then the US can never be fully compliant with its own policies and has just ordered another quarter-million violations. 

Michael P. Moore, January 18, 2012

 

UPDATE, February 14, 2012:

Update to posting on Claymore Mines, courtesy of Mark Hiznay, Human Rights Watch:

 

“The description from the Sources Sought notification, which is part of the solicitation [Landmines in Africa] cites:

‘The M18A1 consists of the M18A1 Anti Personnel Weapon Body and a non-electrical initiation system packed for field use in an M7 Bandoleer. The M18A1 Anti Personnel Weapon Body consists of a molded plastic case which is lined with a single layer of 700 steel balls in a resin matrix along the inside of the convex side. The remainder of the case is filled with Composition C4 high explosive. Two folding scissor-type steel legs are affixed to the bottom edge. Molded along the top edge are an aiming site and two cap wells that accept plastic combination shipping plug / blasting cap holders. The non-electric initiation system is composed of approximately 100 ft shock-tube, Blasting cap and In-line initiation system.’

Seems [Landmines in Africa] did not understand the significant of the last sentence (Ed. Note: Mr. Hiznay is absolutely correct, I did not). What is “shock tube”, or more specifically a “shock tube detonator”?

[Mr. Hiznay lets] Wikipedia explain:

‘Shock tube detonator is a non-electric explosive fuze or initiator in the form of small-diameter hollow plastic tubing used to transport an initiating signal to an explosive charge by means of a percussive wave traveling the length of the tube.’

When did the transition for Claymore initiation in the US?

Look no further than the Landmine Monitor Report 2005:

‘In February 2004, the Pentagon requested $20.2 million to produce 40,000 M18A1E1 Claymore mines. Mohawk Electrical Systems, Inc, in Milford, Delaware is scheduled to produce the munitions between June 2005 and March 2006. The M18A1E1 will incorporate a new triggering system that does not rely on either the victim-activated mechanical tripwire fuze or the command-detonated electrical initiation provided with the M18A1. Instead, the Claymores will be command detonated by a new generation of modernized initiators that use explosives to trigger the mine.’

The M18A1E1 is the developmental designator for the modified M18A1, in practices it’s the same munition. Bottom line: there is no conspiracy in the term “non-electrical initiation system” – it’s a pyrotechnic system now, still command detonated.

Additionally, a member of the US military would be violating US policy and DoD Directive, and thus subject to sanction, if they use a Claymore with a tripwire, which is recognized by the Bush Policy [the 2004 US Landmine Policy] as an antipersonnel mine. Remember, the use of Claymores with tripwires authorized was only valid until 2010 and only in Korea.”

Thank you, Mark, for the clarification and explanation.  If you ever have any additional comments on what you see here, feel free to post.

 

Michael P. Moore, February 14, 2012.


A Conversation with Landmine Advocate Dr. James Cobey

I recently had the opportunity to have a long and free-form conversation with Dr. James Cobey, one of the architects of the Mine Ban Treaty.  As an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Cobey has worked with landmine victims and amputees in Cambodia, Thailand, the Gaza Strip, Haiti and elsewhere in a long career with the American Red Cross, the United Nations and in private practice.  Dr. Cobey was part of the three-person research team that produced Coward’s War: Landmines in Cambodia, written by Eric Stover of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) (Physicians for Human Rights).  Coward’s War served as a seminal document in the founding of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.  Later, Dr. Cobey (with Adam Kushner) wrote Measuring Landmine Incidents and Injuries and the Capacity to Provide Care, the authoritative guide for conducting landmine injury surveillance to assist governments and NGOs to understand the victim assistance needs in their countries (Physicians for Human Rights).  When the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize along with its coordinator, Jody Williams, Dr. Cobey was among those selected to represent ICBL at the award ceremony in Oslo, Norway.  Dr. Cobey is also a founding board member of Health Volunteers Overseas and remains active with Physicians for Human Rights, including participating in demonstrations against indefinite detention at Guantanamo Bay.

Dr. Cobey is a raconteur in the finest tradition and it was my pleasure to listen to him tell his stories and try to keep up. In the course of our chat we covered a range of topics including Guantanamo Bay, the Republican candidates for United States President, social media and its uses, the evolution of the mine ban movement from landmines to cluster munitions to small arms, parenting, and the best way to cook duck (Dr. Cobey is an avid hunter and brought, as a gift, two ducks he had shot and a bottle of Alsatian white wine that my wife and I should drink with the ducks).  Two parts of the conversation stand out and I will let Dr. Cobey’s words speak for themselves.

 

“I was always taught to use the words, not ‘anti-personnel mines’, but ‘anti-people mines.’ Just as a PR thing, ‘anti-people mines,’ not ‘anti-personnel mines;’ the same word, ‘APM.’ A guy from Colombia came up with that term.”

Anti-personnel mine is a very specific term, defined in the Mine Ban Treaty, which loses some of the flavor for what it really does.  An “anti-personnel mine” is a legal construct that lives in international law; an “anti-people mine” is an evil weapon that destroys lives.  In this context we also discussed Claymore mines and the Spider Networked Munition System, tossing about the terms “command-activated” versus “victim-activated;” “ant-personnel mine” versus “anti-tank mines.”  These specific terms lose a little something in their repetition which is why “anti-people mine” resonates: it’s human-focused and reminds us of what these things really do and all landmines are ultimately “anti-people mines.”

 

“A lot of people in the Army, in the Defense Department, I’ve noticed, are very pro what we’ve done with landmines. I lobbied the Undersecretary of Defense back before the lame-duck session [in 2010].  The State Department are all behind the [Mine Ban] Treaty. I went over to the Pentagon with Physicians for Human Rights with [PHR’s Washington Director, John] Bradshaw, a lawyer on the staff, who has the contacts. I had to send over my CV first; I sat down next to this Undersecretary or Assistant Secretary of Defense; he had worked with Human Rights First, on the board for a long time [possibly Frank Kendall, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics].  [The Department of Defense official said to Dr. Cobey], ‘This is a different kind of Defense Department, isn’t it?’  He said, ‘Dr. Cobey, I read your CV, I’m very impressed with what you’ve done.’ And he was all behind us [on the Treaty]. And I made the discussion to him, that the reason for doing [signing the Mine Ban Treaty], is no other country will change unless we change.  I was in Georgia, eight or nine years ago, and we discussed with all these generals from Armenia and Georgia, and their response was, ‘If the United States needs [landmines], the best military in the world, we do too.’  They are all copying us as a model, that’s their excuse. And he said, ‘We’ve got to do something. We’ll get Gates involved and things will happen.’ But then you had the 67 votes in the Senate and we thought we’d made it. But then you also had to get the arms control treaty [New START]. And that came up to the lame duck session and that had to get through and Obama had to give a lot away on [New START] just to get that through.  Now I don’t know how many votes in the Senate we’ve got.  But the Administration is behind it, Samantha Power [White House advisor on Multilateral Organizations] is behind and most of the Defense Department are behind it now. But we’ve got this problem; you don’t want to submit it to the Senate until you get 67 votes.  You want to get your votes lined up first.  You don’t want to be voted down… I don’t think Obama dare take a very soft stand on any issues right now. At least until the election’s over.”

Dr. Cobey has remained active in lobbying the US government to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty, but despite the efforts of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) who drafted a letter to President Obama co-signed by 68 Senators (USCBL, pdf), the Administration has not made signing the Mine Ban Treaty a priority.  The US participated in the most recent Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in Phnom Penh as an observer, but the Administration has yet to complete its review of the country’s landmine policy (USCBL, pdf).  The current US government policy on landmines is the one released under the Bush Administration in 2004 (State Department).  But Dr. Cobey’s words are re-assuring: senior leadership at the Pentagon are supportive of the Mine Ban Treaty, a stance that past Defense Departments had not shared, but the Obama Administration is not willing to submit the Mine Ban Treaty to the Senate for ratification until after the 2012 elections and only if the necessary votes are there.  Once the Administration’s review of the US landmine policy is completed, we’ll have a better sense of exactly how the Pentagon views landmines and the Mine Ban Treaty, but the continued pursuit of the Spider Networked Munition System and recent large-volume orders of M18A1 Claymore mines suggests that the Pentagon isn’t completely ready to renounce landmines.

Michael P. Moore, January 13, 2012


December 2011 – The Month in Mines by Landmines in Africa

As in each month, there is bad news and good news coming out of Africa related to landmines.  Conflicts in Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia continue to generate new landmine casualties while a renewal of conflict in Senegal over the separatist Casamance region also led to new incidents.  In Zimbabwe, Uganda and Libya, remnants of long past and recent wars continue to plague residents.  On the positive side, Angola continues to make slow, but determined, progress towards becoming a mine-free state, a status that Burundi was able to confirm.  And in the United States, the 10th edition of the publication, To Walk the Earth in Safety, was released to much fanfare.

 

South Sudan

The States of South Sudan, from WikiMedia.org

Unity and Jonglei states and the disputed Abyei province appear to flash points for conflict in South Sudan.  Oil-rich Unity state has been the site of the South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) rebellion and rebels have used Chinese-made anti-tank mines to thwart traffic along the roads around the capitol, Bentiu (All Africa; All Africa; All Africa).  These mines represent a new threat where there had not been one in the past according to the UN Mine Action and Coordination Centre in South Sudan (All Africa). In addition, refugees fleeing fighting in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Southern Khordofan state have sought refuge in camps near Yida in the northern part of Unity state, but these camps are threatened by a possible spread of conflict from Sudan.  The United Nations High Commission for Refugees wants to move the camps south, further into Unity state, but has not been able to declare where the camps would be due to fears that rebels will place landmines in those areas and because the roads southward have already been mined (All Africa; All Africa; All Africa). 

In Jonglei state, a local rebel leader, George Athor, was killed by the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the army of South Sudan.  In possible retaliation for Athor’s death, an SPLA soldier was injured by a landmine during Athor’s burial.  The landmine incident, shortly followed by the killing of another SPLA soldier, led to a Christmas Eve massacre by members of an SPLA unit who fired indiscriminately on a church in the town of Khorfulus (All Africa).  Athor’s death followed an outbreak of ethnic violence between the Luo Nuer and Murle communities which left 40 dead (All Africa).

Abyei province is a region on the Sudan – South Sudan border whose status and sovereignty were to be determined by a referendum that has never been held.  Sudanese armed forces have occupied Abyei since May 2011 and claimed sovereignty over Abyei in violation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  Situated on top of large oil fields, Abyei’s financial value to either country makes it worth fighting over; a fight Sudan appears willing to make and South Sudan does not.  Because of the occupation by Sudan, the landmines that litter Abyei have not been cleared (All Africa) and those landmines are preventing refugees who fled Abyei during May’s fighting from returning to their homes (All Africa). 

 

Sudan

States of Sudan, from WikiMedia.org

In addition to the conflicts in the Blue Nile and South Khordofan states mentioned above, Sudan is facing an emerging conflict in Kassala state.  In Blue Nile and South Khordofan, the conflict is between the Sudan government and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army / Movement – North (SPLA/M-N), an offshoot of the SPLA that has since become the army of South Sudan.  During the Sudanese civil war, the members of SPLA/M-N were allied with the SPLA and since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the SPLA/M-N members have felt isolated and alone, left in Sudan when they may have wanted to be part of South Sudan.  In the last few months, the Sudanese army has bombed villages and areas where the SPLA/M-N sought refuge in South Sudan’s Unity state.  Sudan has barred access to Blue Nile and South Khordofan creating a “major deterioration in the condition of people there, including rising malnutrition, food insecurity and the dangers of unexploded ordnance and landmines” according to the United Nations (All Africa).

Kassala state in eastern Sudan is the most-landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) affected state in Sudan according to Mines Advisory Group with 2 million square kilometers of land to be surveyed and demined.  Kassala is also suffering from drought and despite being home to a major oil pipeline to the Red Sea, the state is poor and a burgeoning humanitarian disaster.  Rebels from the Beja peoples have been training and arming themselves in the mountains along the Eritrean and Ethiopian borders and have recently joined forces with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudanese Liberation Army, rebel groups active in Darfur in western Sudan.  Observers expect the situation to deteriorate, especially if drought conditions continue, sliding into famine (All Africa).

 

Somalia

Somalia, from WikiMedia.org

As Kenya’s intervention in southern Somalia enters its third month, landmine and grenade attacks – typically attributed to Al Shabaab – in Mogadishu and the Somali refugee camps in Kenya continue.  In Mogadishu, the Transitional Federal Government started the month by denouncing a landmine attack that killed five women (All Africa), but the security situation has improved in some ways.  Somali soldiers foiled landmine attacks (All Africa) and uncovered fifteen landmines that had been buried in the city (The Monitor).  The ability of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to provide security in Mogadishu allowed United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to visit the city in the highest-level visit to the country in years (BBC News). Despite these gains, landmines claimed four lives and injured many others in two separate attacks in Mogadishu (All Africa; Mareeg). 

In Somalia, despite the presence of Al Shabaab factions in Mogadishu, most of the landmine incidents occur in and around the border region with Kenya, apparently as retaliation for Kenya’s invasion of Somalia.  Landmine or grenade attacks took place in the Dabaab refugee camp just inside Kenya’s border (All Africa; All Africa) while other attacks occurred along the road between Mandera and Wajir in Kenya’s Northeastern Province (All Africa; All Africa; All Africa; All Africa; All Africa; All Africa).  These attacks have occurred as Kenya’s army drives further into Somalia and intensifies its fight against Al Shabaab.  The advance has led to further landmine incidents as Kenyan forces enter the mine-affected regions of Somalia and as Somali soldiers support Kenya’s forces (All Africa; All Africa; All Africa; All Africa; All Africa). 

Also in Somalia, demining activities continue in the northern areas that constitute the semi-autonomous regions of Puntland and Somaliland.  In Puntland’s “capitol” of Bosaso, a deminer was killed in a landmine removal accident (All Africa).

 

Libya, Senegal, Uganda and Zimbabwe

While the Sudans and Somalia generated the most news stories involving landmines in December, Libya, Senegal, Uganda and Zimbabwe also experienced landmine incidents.

In Libya Georg Charpentier, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, issued a call for additional funding for demining and mine risk education.  He said that demining teams were under immense pressure to scale up their activities due to the widespread contamination of landmines from the year’s civil war, but those same operators were facing funding shortfalls (All Africa).  In a related story, a landmine clearance company hired by the National Transitional Council of Libya has had to suspend work because the NTC lacks funds to pay the company and Western banks have refused to send monies to Libya due to past sanctions and concerns about the weak and unregulated financial sector (Reuters).  Thus, while there is a need for additional funds to pay for demining and mine action, the government of Libya is not in a position to support those activities.

As part of an apparent return to violence over the separatist Casamance region, a Senegalese soldier was killed by a landmine in the region following a military operation against the Casamance Movement of Democratic Forces (MFDC) that resulted in the loss of several Senegalese soldiers (All Africa).

In northern Uganda, thousands of persons displaced by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Lamwo district are still living in camps as Uganda’s demining teams remove landmines that had been placed in and around the homes of the displaced. In addition Uganda’s Mine Action Programme Coordinator said the Ugandan demining program lacks adequate funding and Uganda is in jeopardy of missing it August 1, 2012 deadline to complete demining – a deadline that has already been extended once (All Africa).

Zimbabwe faces extensive landmine contamination from its civil war in the 1970s and in the town of Beitbridge, along the border with South Africa, a man suffered injuries sufficient to require amputation of both legs when he set off a landmine whilst preparing timber for house construction. The incident highlights the need for both demining and mine risk education in the country (All Africa).

 

Burundi

At the Twelfth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Burundi formally declared that all demining activities in the country had been completed and Burundi is now free of all anti-personnel landmines.  Burundi had had a deadline of 2014 to complete the demining, but with the support of Mines Advisory Group, DanChurchAid and the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action, Burundi completed the demining three years ahead of schedule.  Whilst the country still faces contamination from unexploded ordnance and other explosive remnants of war, the clearance of the last anti-personnel mine is great news and an example to other countries in Africa, many of which have (or will) require extensions to their demining deadlines (AlertNet).

 

Angola

Angola is one of the most mine-affected states in the world, but each and every month the country and its demining authority, the Angolan National De-mining Institute (INAD), makes slow but steady progress towards the clearing all landmines from the country.  Over one thousand anti-personnel landmines and one anti-tank landmine were cleared from Quipungo district (All Africa); 44 personnel mines and six anti-tank landmines were cleared and destroyed from northern Bengo Province (All Africa); and 4 million square meters of land and 96 kilometers of road were cleared of 174 anti-personnel landmines, 3,217 Uxos and seven anti-tank mines  in Kwanza Sul province (All Africa). 

 

United States

December marked the release of the 10th annual edition of the State Department publication, To Walk the Earth in Safety, which details the US government’s humanitarian demining and mine action programs.  US Secretary of State spoke at the release of the report which details the $201 million provided to 49 countries to “clear explosive remnants of war and destroy excess stockpiles of weapons and munitions” (Voice of America).  Clinton and the US recognize the threats posed by landmines, saying, “Landmines render thousands of acres of land unusable and literally tear away the fabric of communities unable to farm land, to walk safely from village to village” and Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro referred to the Obama Administration’s review of the US government’s landmine policy, saying, “Thus far our review is taking into account what impact it would have on our ability to conduct military operations… After that review is done we will come to a decision about the best way ahead, but that should not in any way detract from the significant efforts the United States has made” (Bloomberg News).

Specific to Africa, To Walk the Earth in Safety documents the $26 million the US provided for mine action in 2010 to Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Mozambique, Senegal, Somalia and Sudan.  The US has also provided assistance for conventional weapons destruction in Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone (State Department).  The report was released on Monday, December 19th.  On Thursday, December 22nd, the US Department of Defense issued a $1.4 million award to Spectra Technologies, LLC of Camden, Arkansas for landmines, probably M18A1 Claymore mines (FedBizOpps Award # W52P1J11D00770002).  The ink on a report about how the US works tirelessly to rid the world of the threat of mines had barely dried before the US was ordering new mines. Sometimes the brazenness of the hypocrisy stuns me.

 

Michael P. Moore, January 8, 2012


2012 Calendar of Events for Landmines in Africa

2012 promises to be a very busy and exciting year for mine action in Africa.  The Mine Ban Treaty will come into force for the world’s newest country, South Sudan, and two nations will be expected to complete their demining obligations (Guinea-Bissau’s deadline of January 1st has already passed as of this writing).  On the international calendar, we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Mine Ban Treaty and the start of formal negotiations on an international Arms Trade Treaty after years of preparation and planning.  There will be training opportunities for mine action operators and campaigns for mine ban advocates (see the ICBL’s 2012 Action Plan for a complete run-down of their priorities ).

Most of the dates below have come calendars maintained by the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR).  Please let me know of any other events that should be added to this list; I will also attempt to keep it updated as the year progresses.

Events in 2012:

January 1: GUINEA-BISSAU: Article 5 demining deadline (as extended)

January 13 – February 3: UNITED STATES: “Walk without Fear” exhibition at the MAC Gallery (144 High Street, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA) hosted by Proud Students Againts Landmines and Cluster Bombs (PSALM) and the West Virginia Campaignt to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs (WVCBL); more info www.wvcbl.org

March 1: INTERNATIONAL: Mine Ban Treaty 13th anniversary of Entry into Force.

March 1 – April 4:  INTERNATIONAL: ICBL Global “Lend Your Leg” action

March 26 – 30: SWITZERLAND: 15th International Meeting of National Mine Action Programme Directors and UN Advisors in Geneva, Switzerland 

March 31: INTERNATIONAL: Suggested deadline for States Parties to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention with Article 5 deadlines in 2013 to submit requests for extensions.

April 4: INTERNATIONAL: International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action

April 24 – 26:  CROATIA: 9th International Symposium “Humanitarian Demining 2012” in Sibenik, Croatia, organized by the Croatian Mine Action Centre (CROMAC) and CROMAC-Center for Testing, Development and Training (HCR-CTRO).  For more information and online registration information, visit  www.ctro.hr.

April 30: INTERNATIONAL: Deadline for States Parties to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention to submit updated transparency information (Article 7 Reports) covering calendar year 2011

May 1: SOUTH SUDAN: Mine Ban Treaty enters into force

May 7-11: SWITZERLAND: GICHD Mine Action Contracting Workshop, http://www.gichd.org/main-menu/operations/contracting-liability-and-insurance/gichd-mine-action-contracting-workshop-7-11-may-2012/, Deadline for applications is March 2, 2012.

May 21- 25: SWITZERLAND: Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings in Geneva, Switzerland

July 2-27: UNITED STATES: United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty: http://www.un.org/disarmament/convarms/ATTPrepCom/

August 1: UGANDA: Article 5 Demining deadline (as extended)

September – October: INTERNATIONAL: ICBL countdown to 12MSP

September 18: INTERNATIONAL: Fifteenth anniversary of the adoption of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention 

October:  UNITED STATES: First Committee (disarmament) of 67th UN General Assembly in UNHQ, New York, http://www.un.org/disarmament/

November: SWITZERLAND: Convention on Conventional Weapons 5th Review Conference in Geneva, Switzerland

December 3: INTERNATIONAL: 15th Anniversary of signing of the Mine Ban Treaty

December 3 – 7: SWITZERLAND: Mine Ban treaty 12MSP in Geneva, Switzerland

Michael P. Moore, January 3, 2012