09 May 2019

This week the West Virginia Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions facilitated a series of exchanges on Mine Ban advocacy and youth, with ICBL-CMC Director Hector Guerra.

On Tuesday, May 7, the Director joined WVCBL member, Dr. Larry Schwab for a discussion with Proud Students Against Land Mines and Cluster Munitions (PSALM). The group presented their longstanding work advocating for the elimination of landmines and cluster munitions in the U.S. after which they asked about campaigning at an international level.

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ICBL-CMC Director with PSALM students and WVCBL member, Dr. Larry Schwab (right).

For the past 20 years, the student organization from St. Francis de Sales School in Morgantown, West Virginia, has generated public awareness on the life saving impact of the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) and since 2008, the Convention on Cluster Munitions. PSALM comprises students from grades 3-8, meaning many of the 8th grade students will have spent 5 years advocating for an end to landmines and cluster munitions.

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PSALM students sharing advocacy work.

PSALM forms an integral part of the West Virginia Campaign to Ban Landmines (WVCBL).

This year, PSALM students are celebrating their 20th anniversary as a student-led organization. As part of the celebrations, the group hosted an exhibit of art and photos dedicated to 20 years of advocacy around the treaties.

On Wednesday 8 May, West Virginia University hosted ICBL and the PSALM students for a discussion on advocating for a world free of landmines and cluster munitions. Specific topics included the international push for disinvestment from production of the weapons to providing assistance to victims. The panel discussion was joined by West Virginia University president, Dr. Gordon Gee, who commended the ICBL-CMC on its work.


West Virgininia University President Gordon Gee (center) and Vice President for Global Affairs William Brustein, PhD (left), welcome PSALM students, WVCBL member Dr. Larry Schwab and ICBL-CMC Director to campus exchange.

"As the MBT turns 20 years old and the CCM passes the 10 year mark, we can positively say that the treaties have had an enormous impact in saving lives and preventing these horrific weapons from causing greater suffering. The ICBL-CMC civil society network is proud to have contributed to this success, yet we are deeply concerned about new trends including the recent increase in landmine casualties - including a large proportion of children - and ongoing cluster bomb use in Syria, among others. Engaging young campaigners is key to educating the public and eradicating these terrible weapons forever", said Mr. Guerra. 

Hector Wvustudentsx599Melanie Fisher MD and medical students from WVU Chapter of Physicians for Human Rights, with ICBL-CMC Director.

The visit to West Virginia forms part of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines' outreach efforts in advance of the Fourth Review Conference on a Mine Free World, hosted by the Norwegian Government and taking place in Oslo this year November 25-29.