Deadly artifacts of past wars, landmines are responsible for the death and maiming of thousands of innocent civilian men, women, and children in countries already ravaged by the economic, environmental, and psychological scars of violent conflict.
In 1991, PHR conducted critical research on the prevalence and medical consequences of landmine injuries in Cambodia. With Human Rights Watch, we released our report “Coward’s War: Landmines in Cambodia” which exposed the public health threat posed by landmines and, for the first time, called for a comprehensive ban on these deadly and indiscriminate weapons.
The report helped galvanize international attention to the devastating effects of antipersonnel landmines on civilians, particularly children. Following its publication, PHR helped found the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, mobilized the health community’s engagement, and participated in international disarmament meetings that led to the International Mine Ban Treaty. This treaty, which came into force faster than any arms control treaty in modern history, bans the use, trade, production, and stockpiling of antipersonnel mines and requires signatories to participate in demining and victim assistance efforts. The treaty was originally signed by 122 governments in December 1997, and – since then – 80 percent of the world’s governments have joined. It is considered the defining instrument for ridding the world of the scourge of landmines.
In 1997, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the campaign and its coordinator, Jody Williams. As one of the founding members of the campaign, PHR shared in the Prize.
In 2000, PHR issued “Measuring Landmine Incidents and Injuries and the Capacity to Provide Care, A Guide to Assist Governments and Non-governmental Organizations in Collecting Data about Landmine Victims, Hospitals, and Orthopaedic Centers,” to provide essential data for properly quantifying the public health consequences of landmines.