Mines: A Perverse Use of Technology
In many ways, the publication of Mines: A Perverse Use of Technology by the ICRC in May 1993 marked a turning point in the ICRC effort to tackle the humanitarian catastrophe wrought by mines. The language used in the condemnation of the indiscriminate use of landmines was uncompromising and the images – not presented here – were shocking in their graphic depiction of the suffering endured by virtually every mine victim.
The opinion of one former ICRC delegate included in the publication – and since reproduced widely – perhaps summed up the rationale for the entire ICRC effort against mines:
Mines may be described as fighters that never miss, strike blindly, do not carry weapons openly, and go on killing long after hostilities are ended.
In short, mines are the greatest violators of international humanitarian law. They are the most ruthless of terrorists.
The ICRC decided that it was essential to inform the public of the horrendous suffering inflicted by mines. With this course determined, a path was cleared to make the way for the major public advertising campaign in favour of a total prohibition of anti-personnel mines that the ICRC would launch – for the first time in its history – only two years later in the autumn of 1995.
Foreword by Cornelio Sommaruga
A tragedy too often forgotten among the many experienced by a population involved in armed conflict is the havoc wrought by mines, millions of which lie