March 1st marked the 17th anniversary of the entry into force of the Mine Ban Treaty. Nepal has yet to sign the treaty, therefore March 1st marks an important day for advocating to government officials the importance of signing.
The Mine Ban Treaty bans the use, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines, and enforces stockpile destruction, mine field clearance and victim assistance. The treaty came into force on March 1st 1999, and since this date, 162 states have signed the treaty. This year, the Sri Lankan Cabinet approved their accession, marking the importance in which they hold this treaty and their commitment to work towards a mine-free Sri Lanka. Despite not signing, Nepal has been landmine field free since 2011. NCBL has worked hard to advocate to the government to sign, and has done a great deal of work to support survivors and other persons with disabilities in the country over the past 21 years.
March 1st was also an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the past year. In 2015 NCBL initiated the national network of mine victims capacity training, celebrated international day for persons with disabilities and also contributed to the earthquake relief efforts. In preparation for the 17th anniversary, NCBL sent letters to the Ministries of Peace and Reconstruction, Defence, Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Law and Justice to encourage the government towards the accession of the Mine Ban Treaty. To celebrate this day, representatives from NCBL visited Satungal to speak with a group about the importance of the Mine Ban Treaty. The group consisted of about 30 women learning to knit as a means of generating income for their families. NCBL plans to use the basis of this knitting pilot project to develop their own program to support survivors of landmines and persons with disabilities. It was a great opportunity to see the hard work of these women, appreciate how far they have come, and share our knowledge of the Mine Ban Treaty with a large audience. NCBL is excited about the possibilities of the upcoming year, and will continue to advocate to the government to sign the Mine Ban Treaty, and assist with the rehabilitation and reintegration of survivors and persons with disabilities this year.