International Campaign to Ban Landmines-Cluster Munition Coalition
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The ICBL, now the ICBL-CMC, is a prime example of a highly successful single issue campaign led by a network of civil society actors based on both the global north and the global south. It came about as a result of a striking convergence of vision and interests between and among a diverse array of international civil society groups and like-minded nation states, all leading to a consensus that the moment for ambitious action had arrived. That the issue could be understood as humanitarian, not only as political and diplomatic – notwithstanding that it culminated in a formal international treaty – made possible a very broad coalition in pursuit of a multilateral goal that was both visionary and achievable. With this network in place, and enjoying the solid record of accomplishment it does, the infrastructure for a new campaign to ban cluster munitions was there for the taking and the using.
International Campaign to Ban Landmines, c/o the Ecumenical Centre, Routed de Ferney 150, P.O. Box 2100, Geneva 2, Switzerland, email@example.com.
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) describes itself as “an international network of 1,400 Non Governmental Organizations in a hundred (100) countries (including) human rights, de-mining, humanitarian, children’s, veterans’, medical, development, arms control, religious, environmental, and women’s groups … who work locally, nationally, regionally, and internationally to ban antipersonnel landmines”. The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) was a similar though later movement focused on a separate though closely connected area of interest. The combined organization is now known as the ICBL-CMC. (References: ICBL and CMC websites, unless otherwise indicated.)
The Landmines Campaign was founded in 1992 by the Handicap International, Human Rights Watch, Medico International, Mines Advisory Group, Physicians for Human Rights, and Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation. At the time, an estimated 100 million mines were scattered throughout over 60 countries, with detonations resulting in up to 2,000 casualties per month and general disruption of life and livelihood. A mere 5 years later (December, 1997), the movement’s efforts culminated in the signing of the “Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction,” more popularly known as “the Ottawa Treaty.”
The Landmines coalition has always been characterized by its breadth and diversity. Many national and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) which had previously made a point of eschewing “political action” joined this campaign with great enthusiasm, often bringing considerable human and financial resources to bear, because they understood it to be a humanitarian initiative. The ICBL is a truly international civil society movement that emerged in many and diverse countries in the global North and South, coalesced and manifested itself as an idea whose time had come. It represented a groundswell that encouraged and converged with what has been termed a “states-swell” at an historic moment in the early 1990s. By that time, a critical mass, including national governments and multilateral agencies, had become convinced of the urgent need to act on the landmine problem and were prepared to engage cooperatively with the international civil society movement.
A more recent, and no less significant, achievement is the Convention on Cluster Munitions formally signed by 94 governments in December 2008. It was the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) that led this civil society effort. The CMC built upon the ICBL’s experience, and many of the same actors were involved. In 2012 they formally merged, but continue to operate two separate campaigns, each devoted to the implementation of its particular treaty and bringing states still outside its scope to sign on. Together, since 2009, they have published the annual Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor Report.
The Landmines Campaign characterizes itself as a “flexible network of organizations that share common objectives… The International Campaign to Ban Landmines is committed to an international ban on the use, production, stockpiling, and sale, transfer, or export of antipersonnel landmines.”
The CMC, for its part, describes itself as “an international civil society campaign working to eradicate cluster munitions, prevent further casualties from these weapons and put an end to the suffering they cause.”
The Landmines Campaign initially came into being to raise awareness of the problem of antipersonnel mines and to press for a binding international agreement. It promotes increased international resources for humanitarian mine clearance and mine victim assistance programs. Since the signing of the Ottawa Treaty, it has continued to press for “universalization” of the agreement’s coverage, full compliance with its terms, and other related goals. It participates in the periodic official meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty progress review process, and it produces a number of publications, most notably the annual Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor Report (previously the Landmines Monitor Report) and continues to advocate vigorously for action on ancillary peace and human security issues.
The CMC, now formally merged with the ICBL, carries out essentially the same set of activities in pursuit of its mission, as described above.
Structure and Governance
The ICBL has always functioned as a remarkably broad, diverse, multicentric, volunteer-led global network. Each national committee pursues its own priorities, but all the while sharing a common vision and engaging in a mutually beneficial exchange of views and experience and building an international movement.
From 1993 till 1998, the ICBL network was coordinated by a Campaign Steering Committee consisting of the six original members plus additional national members from Asia, Africa, and Europe. In 1998, the Steering Committee became the Coordination Committee and expanded yet again to include other organizations from around the world committed to its mission.
As noted above, the ICBL and Cluster Munition Coalition are now formally one, known as the ICBL-CMC, a single organization with two separate campaigns, the one focused on landmines and the other on cluster munitions. The combined entity is now governed by 12-member Governance Board. Though, initially, it did not have an international office, its day-to-day affairs are now managed by a small secretariat of five persons, most of whom are based in Geneva.
Financial support for the ICBL-CMC and its work has come from a variety of sources including a dozen (12) donors including national governments and United Nations agencies as well as the large and diverse array of members and endorsers.
The signature accomplishment of the Campaign was the 1997 Ottawa Treaty. This goal was reached as a result of being able to work in close harmony with the International Committee of the Red Cross, United Nations agencies, and sympathetic governments – including, most notably, Norway and Canada – which shared the vision and took up the cause. The successful outcome is now recognized as a model of effective international civil society and state strategic collaboration. In fact, it was unique and unprecedented until that time. The campaign’s experience and successes are ably and comprehensively documented in the book, To Walk Without Fear (Cameron et al. 1998), which deserves careful study by all with an interest in the potential for international civic action in pursuit of worthy global goals.
As of late 2019, there are 164 States Parties to the Ottawa Treaty. Those 32 countries have not yet signed it – including China, Russia, and the United States, all permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – which means that universalization is still very much a work in progress. The ICBL vigorously continues to pursue this goal.
The ICBL and its then Coordinator, Jody Williams of the United States, one of the key civil society architects of the initiative, were jointly awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions formally signed by 94 governments in December 2008 is clearly the major result of the CMC’s efforts, working hand in hand with sympathetic national governments, of course. The CMC built upon the ICBL’s experience and many of the same actors were involved.
The annual Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor Report is widely regarded as an authoritative voice offering important technical information and advancing the cause of the twin campaigns.
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