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In
my last blog I commented that “as diplomats we should not forget; that beyond the
intellectual and political arguments, what really matters is whether what we do affects people
on the ground”.

 

This
week’s meeting on the Ottawa Landmine treaty in Cartagena, Colombia has been an
opportunity for those who have been directly affected by these terrible weapons
to speak directly to the diplomatic community. And it has been an inspiring and
moving experience.

 

Those
of you following me on Twitter will have seen the links to my meeting with Song
Kosal
a young woman from Cambodia who lost her leg as a child and has become a
leading campaigner in the effort to rid the world of these dreadful weapons.
Her mix of quiet courage and soft spoken advocacy is inspiring.

 

Also
on twitter are mini interviews with CIREC and Diving Planet about pioneering
work
they are doing to use scuba diving to build up landmine victims and other
young disabled people’s confidence. I can imagine that the freedom of movement
of swimming under water must be a particularly exhilarating experience for
someone who on land has to use a wheel chair.

 

The
summit opening ceremony also showed that the wheel chair does not have to be a
limiting factor. We have all admired the athletes of the para-olympics, but I
had never seen a dance troupe Concuerpos and Aznad, comprising both able bodied and dancers in
wheelchairs. And it was extraordinary, both the contemporary and traditional
Columbian dances, the passion and enthusiasm of the dancers shining through.

 

The Landmines and the Cluster Munitions Convention meetings are moments in our
professional diplomatic lives where the people who all too often have borne the
cost of modern warfare can speak directly to those with the power to bring
about change. Their message is an inspiring one of courage and conviction.


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