For a Mine Free World

Landmines and cluster munitions claim thousands of victims every year. An exhibition of photographs and artwork at the Federal Foreign Office highlights their situation and showcases the work of deminers, volunteers and humanitarian organizations as we look back on 20 years of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. Germany has been supporting mine and ordnance clearance projects as well as raising awareness of the dangers and caring for victims for many years. In 2012 alone 19 million euros were made available.

On 29 November, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle opened the exhibition together with the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross Peter Maurer, Nobel Peace Prize laureate of 1997 Jody Williams, Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch, medico international’s Executive Director Thomas Gebauer and Firoz Alizada, who survived a landmine explosion in Afghanistan. The opening also included a demonstration of how mine clearance works.

The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is a network active in more than 90 countries to advocate a world free from anti personnel mines and cluster munitions. In 1997, the campaign and its spokesperson Jody Williams received the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their commitment to making the Ottawa Convention a reality. The Ottawa Convention is the central treaty in the pursuit of a global ban on anti personnel mines. It has been a milestone in international humanitarian law since it entered into force in 1999.

The exhibits

The exhibition was organized by Handicap International, medico international and Solidarity Service International (SODI) in conjunction with the Federal Foreign Office. The exhibits on display in the atrium of the Federal Foreign Office relate to such topics as mine clearance, victim support, risk education, and the economic and social consequences of landmines and cluster munitions being deployed. The collection includes large prints by the well known photographers Lukas Einsele, John Rodsted, Sean Sutton and Till Mayer, taken in the worst affected countries: Afghanistan, Kosovo, Libya, Uganda, Viet Nam and Laos. Shirin Homann Saadat’s Landmine Box and the Virtual Minefield, an installation by conceptual artist Peter Zizka, are also on display.

In his opening speech, Foreign Minister Westerwelle said, “These images (...) touch every person who views them; these images are an appeal for freedom (...). Every victim is a victim too many and every victim has his own story.”

The exhibition remained on show in the atrium of the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin until 21 December 2012.
Afterwards the exhibition went to the United Nations in Geneva and New York.

The catalogue of the exhibition on 20 Years of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines is available here (PDF, 7 MB)

Statement by Ambassador Berger at the presentation of the exhibition "For a Mine-Free World" in New York, 5. April 2013

Working for a ban on anti personnel mines and cluster bombs

Westerwelle talking to a mine victim at the COPE Centre

Westerwelle talking to a mine victim at the COPE Centre
© Photothek/Imo

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Westerwelle talking to a mine victim at the COPE Centre

Westerwelle talking to a mine victim at the COPE Centre

Westerwelle talking to a mine victim at the COPE Centre

The German Government is actively committed to a global ban on anti personnel mines and cluster bombs. Part of its work is to assist humanitarian mine and ordnance clearance. Since 1992, around 224 million euros from the Federal Foreign Office budget has been used for such measures in 42 countries. For 2012, the Federal Foreign Office provided 18.3 million euros for 45 projects in 24 countries.

It was only in early November that Foreign Minister Westerwelle visited COPE, a documentation and rehabilitation centre in the Lao capital, Vientiane, which looks after people injured by cluster munitions and landmines. One boy there explained how he lost his sight and both his hands to an unexploded bomb in his village, when he was on his way home. His story is not unusual. During his visit, Minister Westerwelle presented the COPE centre with additional German aid in the form of equipment for making prosthetic limbs.

Last updated 23.12.2012

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