27 January 2014

ICBL Member, ‘Proud Students Against Landmines and Cluster Bombs (PSALM)/ West Virginia Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Bombs (WVCBL)’ is currently displaying its latest art and photo exhibit “Making a World of Difference.” The inspirational exhibit featuring work by some 50 middle school students will run through 1 February at the Monongalia Arts Center gallery in Morgantown, West Virginia, USA.The exhibit acknowledges and honors individuals and organizations around the globe that have made a substantial difference in people's lives through their efforts to rid the world of landmines and cluster munitions. On display are photos of campaigners (including many familiar faces from the ICBL-CMC), with maps pointing out where the campaigns are located; an homage to Nelson Mandela; and information about the Third Review Conference to the Mine Ban Treaty, taking place June 23-27 in Mozambique.

The exhibit also includes “The Good Bomb Sculpture Project” – inspired by the question “What is the opposite of a bomb that wreaks havoc, pain and destruction?” The resulting sculptures by PSALM students depict imagined "systems," rendered in vibrant colors and designs, for creating a more just and peaceful world.Campaign coordinator and teacher, Nora Sheets, explains why PSALM students are so passionate about eradicating landmines and cluster bombs “These weapons infringe on so many areas of life. They are the ‘war after the war.’ Whether it is the loss of life or the immediate medical needs of the survivors, the inability to farm land and retrieve water, or the environmental affects of aged weapons that have been seeping into the ground. PSALM students feel our work is necessary because it is not enough to want peace, love and happiness. They want to work to rid the world of what stands in the way of others achieving a more just and peaceful life.”Sheets and her students have been working on landmine and cluster munition ban advocacy since 1999, when a related art project turned into a group for taking action. Nora believes children are particularly drawn to this issue due to the fact that over a third of landmine survivors are children. What began as a group of four 7th graders now counts some 50 members.Over the last 15 years the members of PSALM/WVCBL have been committed to educating the public about the devastation caused by landmines and cluster munitions. The indiscriminate nature of these weapons means that civilians, especially children, fall victim to them after wartime hostilities have ceased. The group is also dedicated to getting as many countries as possible, and especially the United States, to join the international treaties banning landmines and cluster munitions.Fifteen years after the Mine Ban Treaty's entry into force, 161 countries are States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, but the United States is not one of them. US policy regarding whether to join the Mine Ban Treaty has been under review since 2009, with a decision expected to be announced soon. ICBL campaigners around the world including PSALM/WVCBL members, are calling on President Obama and the US Administration to come on-board the Treaty as soon as possible, and fully commit to working towards a mine-free world for this and future generations.