Central America becomes landmine-free
On10October 1997, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in recognition of its work towards the implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. Thirteen years on, the fruits of their labour can be seen with the announcement that Central America has become the world’s first landminefree region. Nicaragua recently completed its mine-clearing activities, meaning that North and Central
America, from the Arctic Circle to the Colombian border, are now free from the threat of landmines.
However, much work still remains to be done. As Jesús Martínez, Director of the ICBL member in El Salvador, Fundación Red de Sobrevivientes, and a mine survivor himself, explained: ‘Landmine survivors, their families and communities require lifelong assistance. Government funding that previously supported clearance should now be channelled to victim assistance initiatives.’
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35 years ago this month...
...the New Internationalist was arguing the case for the New Economic Order.
Its founding editor Peter Adamson wrote:
The major crises of our times are not unrelated accidents, mere coincidental aberrations from an otherwise wellregulated world system.
The problems of food, population, employment and environment are now recognized as symptoms of the same sickness. And it is clear that a cure will not be found without a diagnosis of what that sickness is.
The 1975 Dag Hammarskjold Report, for example, describes the various crises as ‘only the most obvious signs of a great disorder under heaven’. And the latest Report to the Club of Rome by Mesarovic and Pestel also opens with the statement that ‘the whole multitude of crises appears to constitute one single global crisis of world development’.
Recent events have made it blazingly clear that this single global crisis, the sickness which underlies the symptoms, is none other than common poverty compounded by chronic inequality…
In May 1974 the governments of almost every nation in the world came together to discuss this central problem of inequality in wealth and opportunity. Meeting at the Sixth Special Session of the UN General Assembly – the first Special Session ever called by a developing country – they approved ‘by consensus’ a ‘Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order’. It was a hard-fought 2,000 word document, incorporating a coherent set of principles and accompanied by a definite Plan of Action, with the stated aim of ending the gross inequalities of the present time.
Since then, the New Economic Order has become almost synonymous with world development and provided a common focal point for a legion of conferences, studies and reports over the last 16 months.
Despite the fact that the developed nations filed over 200 pages of reservations on the Declaration, and despite the fact that the degree of inequality inside many poor nations sometimes makes a mockery of their claims, the New Internationalist believes that a New Economic Order – between people as well as nations – is now the main hope and rallying point for change towards a more just, and therefore less hungry, less crowded, less violent and physically degraded world.
In one sense, the issues are still exactly the same. But in another, a great deal has changed. Back then the battle for a new economic order was being driven through the UN and there was genuine hope that we were on the cusp of change. Today the power and wealth of the rich nations remains entrenched and their governments no longer even feel they have to pay lipservice to the idea of a more equal world. And yet the cracks in the global order are widening daily, marked by economic instability and environmental devastation. Perhaps it’s time for the global justice movement to move back to centre stage...
10 ● New Internationalist ● OCTOBER 2010