Diana 1961-1997: The charities - Treaty could be her memorial

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The Independent Online
The Princess of Wales's work to end the global scourge of landmines may yield a lasting memorial: an international treaty banning their use.

Today, diplomats from more than 100 countries begin meeting in Oslo with the goal of ending the use of landmines throughout the world. By the end of the two-week conference, backers hope to have drafted a treaty on banning their production, sale or use.

Diana had thrown herself into the campaign against landmines, making trips earlier this year to Bosnia and Angola to publicise the issue, and ran into a political row when she seemed to be working against government policy. Labour, once elected, took up the cause.

Her support for the campaign was one of its strongest assets. There are about 110 million anti-personnel mines scattered around the world, and it was the damage they caused - particularly to children - which moved the Princess to become involved with the issue. "Most of those you see maimed by mines are children, followed by average people, like farmers," said Norway's deputy foreign minister Jan Egeland in advance of the meeting.

The conference continues a series of meetings that began in Canada and are now called "the Ottawa Process". Those talks led to an anti-land mine declaration signed by 98 nations in Brussels in June. Three more countries, the United States, Australia and Poland, have since joined the process.

Norway's goal is a total ban, with no exception for types of mine, or geographical location. But there has been resistance. Some of the world's major powers, including Russia, India, China and Israel, will not be represented. The US is taking part with reservations. Although it has agreed to join the Ottawa process, it wants Korea excluded from the ban since it says mines are essential for the defence of South Korea.

The Princess's death is certain to be commemorated at the conference. The United Nations said yesterday that the world had lost an important ambassador. "It is a tragic loss. Her commitment and dedication to a ban on anti-personnel mines brought the issue home to millions around the world," Fred Eckhard, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, said.