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Feature Story:

State Honors Demining Partners

By John Stevens
The author is public affairs officer for the Office of the Special Representative to the President and Secretary of State for Global Humanitarian Demining.

Timithy Boggs and Jenette Khan.

Timithy Boggs, left, of Time Warner and Jenette Khan of DC Comics describe the mine awareness comic book project.

 
 

In the time it takes to read this magazine, somewhere in the world a person will be maimed or killed by a landmine. An estimated 60 to 70 million landmines pose an everyday threat to civilians in one-third of the world's nations and a barrier to peace, democracy and development in war-torn societies long after the guns are silent.

Since 1993, the United States has provided more than $350 million to help clear landmines, conduct mine awareness programs, assist the victims of landmine accidents and research new demining technologies.

A top priority of the President's "Demining 2010 Initiative," launched by Secretary of State Albright and Secretary of Defense Cohen in October 1997, has been to build partnerships with American private and civic organizations to combine innovation, energy and resources for a mine-safe world by the year 2010. Highlighting that cooperation, Secretary Albright hosted a dinner on November 4 in the Benjamin Franklin Room to recognize and honor two dozen groups involved in public-private partnerships for global humanitarian demining.

Among the 120 distinguished guests were Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT), Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation President Bobby Muller, President and Editor-in-Chief of DC Comics Jenette Khan, United Nations Association President William Luers and Nobel Laureate Jody Williams.

In her remarks, Secretary Albright saluted the public-
private partnerships: "In our common campaign to end the landmine crisis, every one of the groups and people here tonight has been able to stand and deliver. We rely on NGOs for huge infusions of energy and expertise, and on the private sector for innovative ways of harnessing donor generosity and participation."

Among the groups honored were:

* The United Nations Association and its Adopt-a-Minefield program, which since March 1999 has raised more than $2 million to clear minefields in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Cambodia, Croatia and Mozambique.

* Warner Brothers, which has committed to use its "Looney Tunes" characters, including Bugs Bunny, to produce cartoons for broadcast around the world to teach mine awareness to children in mine-affected countries.

* DC Comics, which is adding a new Portuguese-
language mine awareness Superman/Wonder Woman comic book for Lusophone Africa in addition to those already produced for Bosnia, Central America
and Kosovo.

* Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, which is conducting landmine surveys in a dozen countries and assisting mine accident survivors in southeast Asia and Africa.

* Roots of Peace and its associated California vintners and high-tech firms, which are raising funds and public awareness on the landmine problem. Roots of Peace has adopted a minefield in Croatia and, once it is cleared, will ensure it is replanted with grapevines.

* The Marshall Legacy Institute and its K9 Demining Corps Campaign, a nationwide effort to purchase, train and deploy mine-detecting dogs around the world.

* The Landmine Survivors Network, which is assisting some of the world's 300,000 landmine accident survivors with peer counseling, prosthetics and vocational training.

* The Humpty Dumpty Institute, which is identifying new private funding for mine action organizations and its special project to provide demining dogs to Eritrea.

* The University of Richmond's Jepson School of Leadership Studies and its campuswide effort to organize grassroots support for demining projects.

These public-private partnerships are carried out by the Office of the Special Representative to the President and Secretary of State for Global Humanitarian Demining, the State Department Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs, the Defense Department Office of Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Affairs and the USAID Leahy War Victims Fund.

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