Jan-15-1997: Princess Diana Steps in Political Minefield That Leads to Convention Banning Landmines

Princess Diana Steps in Political Minefield That Leads to Convention Banning Landmines

A mere eight-months before her untimely death, Great Britain’s Princess Diana sparked controversy when she visited Kuito, Angola which was believed the most heavily land-mined city in the world.  The Princess walked through a portion of a cleared minefield and met with victims of landmines.

Her visit caused a row on Downing Street where she was called ill-informed and a “loose cannon” by a Defense Minister for Prime Minister John Major.

In May, Tony Blair was elected Prime Minister in a landslide that ended 18-years of conservative rule.  In June, Princess Diana (now with the government’s support) called for a ban on landmines in a speeches in London and Washington.

In August, just three weeks before her death, Diana visited land mine victims in Bosnia.

The next month, the Ottawa Treaty or the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention was drafted and then signed in December 1997.  The British government ratified the treaty on the fist anniversary of Diana’s death.

The Convention gained 122 country signatures when it opened for signing on 3 December 1997 in Ottawa, Canada. Currently, there are 162 States Parties to the Treaty. Thirty-four countries have not signed the treaty and one more has signed but did not ratify. The states that have not signed the treaty includes a majority of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: China, the United States and Russia. In 2014, the United States declared that it will abide by the terms of the Treaty, except for landmines used on the Korean Peninsula.South Korea, like North Korea, has not signed the treaty, believing the use of landmines to be crucial to the defense of their territory against the other.

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