Editorials

Landmines: time for an international ban

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7037.990 (Published 20 April 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:990
  1. John Pearn
  1. Professor Department of Child Health, Royal Children's Hospital, Brisbane, Queensland 4029, Australia

    The United Nations must end this indiscriminate killing and maiming of civilians

    Anti-personnel landmines remain one of the unmet challenges of preventive medicine. In the aftermath of modern civil and international conflict, civilians—especially children—continue to be killed long after the end of hostilities.1 2 Many victims are not recorded in official statistics. None the less, estimates place the current death rate at some 800 people a month, with another 1000-2000 surviving each month with blast injuries and consequent disability.1 At least 26 of the estimated 200 nations of the world have landmines seeded over their surface, and many other countries have a role in their manufacture, sale, and use. Even if an international moratorium on the manufacture and use of anti-personnel mines were achieved now, landmine clearance will take centuries.3

    The case against the continued production and use of antipersonnel mines, like that against poison gas and biological warfare, is their indiscriminate effects on civilians and children. The profession of arms, like all professions, has evolved a code of ethics,4 with the underlying ethos that even when all attempts to maintain peace have failed, when peoples or nations go to war, it is still possible to prosecute combat at a …

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