Archive for February, 2009

dsc_0016I stopped in Managua, Nicaragua this week to attend the first the first in a series of regional meetings planned in the lead-up to the Mine Ban Treaty’s Second Review Conference, which will take place in Cartagena, Colombia from 30 November-4 December 2009. Government representatives from 18 countries across the region attended the Managua Workshop as did campaigners from a dozen countries.  The campaign’s delegation included eight landmine survivors from Colombia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Peru.

It was interesting to be back in Nicaragua; my first visit was eight years ago just after 9/11. The mine clearance work in the region is nearing completion. Nicaragua is the last country in Central America still complete its demining program. They are working hard to meet this goal by December, but it requires ongoing funding to complete. We had a disheartening discussion on $$$ with the U.S. embassy, as the U.S. demining programme had unilaterally decided that Nicaragua is “mine-impact free” and no longer requires support. Shame that the U.S. couldn’t have taken a joint decision together with other donors who are part of the Mine Ban Treaty as Nicaragua still requires continued support in order to be “mine-free.”

disarmdvdart-loWe’re preparing an event in New York to launch the DVD of Disarm. After completing the film in 2005 it screened at film festivals in the United States and around the world until Janson Media picked up the film’s broadcast distribution. Last year, independent film distributor IndiePix agreed to distribute the Disarm DVD, which we spent many, many months preparing. We’re very proud of the final product. The DVD is loaded with extras including 40 minutes of deleted scenes and director’s commentary. It includes subtitle French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

The DVD will be available from stores in Canada, the US and UK, online at Amazon and Netflix, and available via digital download. We’re asking all our friends and supporters to PLEASE buy the film, spread the word, and leave comments and ratings on the Disarm profile on Amazon and Netflix.

We’re working with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) on the 2 March event at Scandinavia House in New York, where we’ll will launch the DVD and commemorate the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty’s tenth anniversary. The speaker line-up includes Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, Colombian Ambassador Claudia Blum, Norwegian Ambassador Mona Juul, and Steve Goose of Human Rights Watch. It should be a great launch for Disarm’s long-awaited DVD!

2009alison_des_forgesMy colleague Alison Des Forges died in a plane crash in New York this week. She was an researcher in the Africa division of Human Rights Watch (HRW). A receipent of the MacArthur ‘genius’ award, Alison was a very inspiring colleague and her death has touched everyone at HRW. The New York Times published her obituary today.

When I first joined HRW’s DC office in May 1998, the associates for the Arms and Africa divisions shared a tiny office next to mine. I remember the Africa associate Juliet Wilson working weekends and evenings to format (in word perfect!) Alison’s authoritative account of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda: Leave None to Tell the Story. When the 789-page book was issued in March 1999 it was the largest publication ever produced by HRW. Two months later, we took that record with the hefty Landmine Monitor Report 1999. I still have my copy of Alison’s report on my bookshelf – it takes pride of place. May she rest in peace.