1997 Action of Immediate Witness

BECAUSE Unitarian Universalists are people of conscience who believe in peace, liberty, social justice, and the democratic process for the achievement of these goals; and

WHEREAS there are estimated to be 110 million anti-personnel landmines in the ground in 68 countries (few of which are at war), and approximately 30,000 men, women, and children are killed or maimed by such mines every year;

WHEREAS, at 1997 rates of funding and mine clearance, it will take 1,100 years to remove existing mines;

WHEREAS landmines also a) have disastrous economic costs, preventing the return of the land to agricultural production, b) impose prohibitive medical costs on the world's poorest economies, and c) preclude the development of infrastructure and industry which a developing nation requires to be integrated into the world community;

WHEREAS at least 30 United States companies have not yet responded to an appeal to forego any further production of component landmine parts;

WHEREAS a few nations have prevented the United Nations Committee on Disarmament from producing a global ban on landmines, while in the same time period more than 800 non-governmental organizations as diverse as the International Red Cross, the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, and Church World Service have formed the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and rallied at least 111 governments worldwide to endorse a complete landmines ban treaty;

WHEREAS, on June 10, 1997, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Chuck Hagel, and 55 bipartisan co-sponsors introduced S. 896, the Landmines Elimination Act of 1997, which would ban new deployments of anti-personnel landmines by the United States beginning in the year 2000;

WHEREAS, owing to the leadership of Canadian Minister of External Affairs Lloyd Axworthy, more than 120 nations will meet in Ottawa, Canada, in December 1997, to sign an international treaty to coordinate global efforts to eradicate landmines and a complete ban now seems within reach; and

WHEREAS the Canadian initiative has been supported in a letter to President Clinton by Rep. Lane Evans, Rep. Ray Lahood, and 162 other members of Congress, but the United States has not yet agreed to participate in the Ottawa conference;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 1997 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association calls on member congregations and individual Unitarian Universalists in the United States to urge President Clinton and the United States government to play an active leadership role at the Ottawa Conference to Ban Landmines to secure a global ban on the production, use, export, and storage of anti-personnel landmines and the allocation of significant resources to mine clearance operations and victim assistance;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 1997 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association urges the Association to:

  1. Affirm its support for S. 896, the Landmine Elimination Act of 1997, and corresponding anti-landmine legislation in the US House of Representatives;
  2. In keeping with our present interfaith cooperation 12 initiative, support our own Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office as it joins with other socially conscious religious people in strengthening grassroots support for the Ottawa process;
  3. Contribute to international demining efforts by pairing interested Unitarian Universalist groups in the United States and Canada with groups in mine-affected zones in developing nations;
  4. Use its existing publications to publicize the availability of United Nations Association USA information packet on anti-personnel landmines and recommend its use on United Nations Sunday or another event between September and December, 1997, as a specific resource for carrying out this resolution; and
  5. Identify the firms currently engaged in the manufacture, sale, or distribution of landmines so that persons may take the appropriate actions they deem necessary to inform those firms of their disapproval.

For more information contact socialjustice@uua.org.

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