Anti-land mine activists win Nobel Peace Prize
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October 10, 1997
Web posted at: 8:54 a.m. EDT (1254 GMT)
OSLO, Norway (CNN) -- The U.S.-based International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and its coordinator Jody Williams won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited them for starting a "process which in the space of a few years changed a ban on anti-personnel mines from a vision to a feasible reality."
Moments after the award was announced, Williams, 47, told CNN in a live interview she was "a little stunned" by the award.
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A L S O :
100 million land mines worldwide
Speaking by telephone from Putney, Vermont, Williams said her efforts are driven by the suffering caused by land mines -- silent killers that remain in place by the millions around the world, long after conflicts have ended.
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Bobby Muller, who helped create ICBL, called land mines a "horrific weapon," causing worldwide suffering.
"There are 100 million anti-personnel in the ground around the world that have got to be cleaned up," Muller told CNN in a live interview from Washington.
The ICBL is a coalition of government and non-government organizations that have worked since 1991 to ban land mines.
Heightened awareness of land mine issue
After six years of quietly working toward a ban on
anti-personnel mines, the campaign became more widely known with the August 31 death of Princess Diana, the cause's most visible supporter.
The Nobel committee said it recognized Diana's commitment to the cause but that it had no direct bearing on their
peace prize decision.
What the committee stressed was that Williams and ICBL had started a process which in just six years had transformed efforts to ban land mines from a vision to a feasible reality.
ICBL hopes prize will spur signings of treaty
Last month in Oslo, more than 90 countries drafted a treaty that would totally ban anti-personnel mines, which kill or maim 26,000 people a year, about 80 percent of them civilians.
Williams says she hopes the Nobel Peace Prize decision would impel those countries that have not yet agreed to sign the treaty in December to do so.
"This is what humanity is calling out for," she said. "We've seen a huge number of countries involved in the negotiation of this treaty... But now we need governments like the United States, Russia, India and Pakistan to come on board."
Russia did not take part in the treaty talks but President Boris Yeltsin announced on Friday that he would support a worldwide ban on land mines.
Williams plans to call U.S. President Bill Clinton to urge the United States to sign the treaty. The United States pulled out of the treaty talks in Oslo after failing to push through changes it wanted that would have delayed implementing the treaty and would have allowed an exception for the Korean Peninsula.
Prize to be awarded in December
The prize, worth $1 million U.S., is to be divided equally between Williams and the organization.
The Nobel Prizes are always awarded on the December 10 anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the Swede who invented dynamite and endowed the prizes in his 1895 will.
The peace prize, first awarded in 1901, is presented in Oslo, while the other Nobel prizes are presented in the Swedish capital, Stockholm.
Correspondent Jim Clancy contributed to this report.