Issue On Landmines.
THIS MONTH'S THEME
FROM THIS MONTH'S EDITOR
'Oh, we're so glad the New Internationalist is doing an article on landmines,' the voice on the other end would say at the end of a typical phone call. Somehow my opening gambit that we were doing an entire magazine on the subject would be forgotten. Campaigning groups have got used to a certain kind of media exposure occasionally a major feature appears in the papers, arguing the relevant points within an allotted word-count. Some of these reports are excellent, but what they have in common is a summarizing tendency, which can get just a tad repetitive.
So what hope was there then of an entire issue of the NI on Landmines that wouldn't say the same things over and over? As it turned out my worries were of an altogether different nature. While piles of information rendered areas of my flat (I have been guest-editing from my home in the Netherlands) uninhabitable, it soon became clear that there would be numerous things we would not be able to say.
The saddest omission is of entire countries where landmines are wrecking lives. There were far too many for us to attempt to cover all of them, which is a damning testimony to the prevalence of these weapons.
Some inclusions brought problems as well. I personally think the horror of mine injury is unimaginable unless one sees for oneself what a landmine explosion can do to a human body. Several gut-churning photographs landed on my desk. For good reasons the NI doesn't usually print such graphic images they often portray people as passive victims, they can be viewed as being gratuitously shocking, they can rob the dignity of the person who is the subject. But I felt these objections were not strong enough to counteract the need to run just one photograph that would bear full witness to this horror. You will find this photograph alongside the interview with war surgeon Chris Giannou (see The War Surgeon); I hope it will not prevent you from reading what he has to say.
As the issue has come to its normally frantic conclusion ends that need tying up appear miraculously out of thin air I have become convinced I am one of those people that disrupts machines by their mere presence. Computers have hungrily gobbled up text and refused to regurgitate it, they've crashed and flashed onscreen warnings at me, they have made it known who was boss.
If I appear somewhat ungrateful for these machines' general utility,I have nothing but gratitude for the numerous helpful campaigners who answered my queries and gave their time so freely. As deliberations towards a major ban on these weapons hot up in Oslo this month, we hope you will add your voices in support.
for the New Internationalist Co-operative
Copyright New Internationalist Magazine 1997