Take responsibility or risk funding war criminals
by Landmine Action
Mine clearance money - donors must take responsibility or risk funding war criminals
press release, 15 September 2006
A new report by Landmine Action on Bosnia-Herzegovina documents how millions in international de-mining funds were channelled to groups associated with indicted war criminals. The report Bosnia’s political landmines also analyses the performance of private, profit-orientated companies competing for market share with charitable and non-profit de-mining groups. The research suggests that in Bosnia, non-profit based organizations de-mined difficult areas more effectively with fewer casualties than local and international actors from the private sector.
The report, released on the 18 September in Geneva at the Seventh Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, calls for greater understanding of the political and economic consequences of internationally funded de-mining operations in conflict and post-conflict zones. The report provides examples of how local companies belonging to individuals later arrested for money-laundering - and blacklisted by the United States and European Union over their support for one of Europe’s most wanted men, indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic - were trained, equipped and sub-contracted by international private de-mining companies with US, World Bank and European funding.
Martin Bell, former BBC war reporter in the Balkans, has written the foreword for the report and comments: ‘This report suggests that the ends cannot simply justify the means. Getting mines out of the ground is vital in countries recovering from conflict – but if the money for that work is falling into the wrong hands, then this funding might be doing more harm than good.’
Richard Moyes, policy & research manager for Landmine Action notes: ‘Mine clearance needs to be funded in a responsible way. It is no good saying "we didn’t know who these people were". The organizations funding mine clearance need to take responsibility for looking into these things.’
The launch of Bosnia’s Political Landmines took place at the Palais des Nations, Geneva on Monday 18 September 2006. Discussion was chaired by Martin Bell, former BBC war correspondent and independent UK MP, currently a UNICEF ambassador for humanitarian emergencies. Landmine Action works to improve protection for civilians from the effects of conflict. Its policy, research and advocacy work focuses on establishing appropriate controls over the technology of violence. For further information and copies of the report, please contact:
Therese Lyras, campaigns manager, Landmine Action:
firstname.lastname@example.org +44(0)7738 222 369
Richard Moyes, policy & research manager, Landmine Action:
email@example.com +44(0)7875 509 120