Landmines campaign is awarded peace price


The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and its American co-ordinator, Ms Jody Williams, yesterday received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize from the Norwegian Nobel Committee at Oslo's City Hall. A 37-year old Cambodian man who lost his legs in a 1982 landmine accident, Mr Tun Channareth, accepted the award on behalf of the ICBL.

Seated in his wheelchair, he raised the gold medal high above his head in his right hand and displayed the diploma in his left hand as the hall broke into loud applause.

Ms Williams called the tribute "the result of the truly historic achievement of this humanitarian effort to rid the world of one indiscriminate weapon". She described landmines as "the perfect soldier, the eternal sentry".

In addition to the prize, Ms Williams and the ICBL, an umbrella organisation comprising 1,000 non-governmental organisations and humanitarian organisations in 60 countries, also share a cheque for 7.5 million Swedish krona (£6.5 million).

Following the presentation of the awards, American country singer, Emmy Lou Harris, sang two songs, Abraham John and Martin and Calling My Children Home, in honour of the laureates.

An international treaty banning landmines was signed by 121 countries in Ottawa on December 4th, and Kenya has signed since, making 122.

The ICBL said on Tuesday that it hopes 40 countries will ratify the ban in 1998.

The prize is "recognition of the fact that NGOs have worked in close co-operation with governments for the first time on an arms control issue, with the United Nations, with the International Committee of the Red Cross," Ms Williams said.

The 1997 Nobel laureates in literature, physics, chemistry, medicine and economics received their awards yesterday at a ceremony in Stockholm's Concert House.

The laureates are American Steven Chu, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji of France and William Phillips of the US for physics, Paul Boyer of the US, John Walker of Britain and Jens Skou of Denmark for chemistry, American Stanley Prusiner for medicine, Dario Fo of Italy for literature and Americans, Robert Merton and Myron Scholes, for economics.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Tony D'Costa, general secretary of Pax Christi, said the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and its co-ordinator, Ms Jody Williams, is a recognition of the global cry of millions to end slaughter of the innocents by landmines.

Ratification by 40 countries is required for the treaty to come into force. So far, only three countries have ratified - Ireland, Canada and Mauritius.