Letter: Landmine campaign

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The Independent Online
I HAVE not "quit" the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (report, 13 February). Nor am I keeping my share of the Nobel money for personal use. As of the end of February, I will no longer accept a salary, benefits or expenses from the campaign. I will use the Nobel money, one half of which goes to US taxes, for the pleasure of doing my job.

I am no longer with the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF). In June of last year, VVAF began to publicly state its intention to greatly diminish its involvement or withdraw entirely from the international side of the campaign after the treaty was signed this past December in Ottawa, and to focus on the US. When the VVAF decided to abruptly terminate our relationship, I was immediately reaffirmed as co-ordinator of the ICBL by the other 10 members of the campaign's steering committee.

It is inaccurate to say that VVAF funds much of the campaign's work. Various members of the campaign, such as Human Rights Watch, Handicap International of France and Belgium, the UK Working Group on Landmines and the Cambodia Campaign, have contributed as many human and financial resources as has VVAF to our international work. In fact, the bulk of VVAF's staff and financial resources have gone to lobbying efforts in Washington.

The international campaign is already pressing all 123 governments that have signed the treaty to ratify it as soon as possible. We will continue our work to universalise the treaty, recognising the importance of having all countries sign. The campaign simply put its early emphasis on those countries already seriously contaminated with mines - such as Cambodia, Angola, Bosnia, Croatia, Mozambique, all of which have signed the treaty. Bringing the US on board has always been part of the strategy of the campaign - along with Russia, China, India and Pakistan, for example. The major difference with VVAF has simply been one of timing and focus.


Co-ordinator, ICBL

Alexandria, Virginia

The writer is 1997 Nobel Laureate for Peace