Prince Harry is following in his late mother Princess Diana’s footsteps with the fight she began against landmines. Harry continues to back the initiative Diana started 20 years ago, before her death in 1997, to rid to the world of these mines.
Princess Di’s youngest son gave a powerful speech at Kensington Palace on Tuesday, International Mine Awareness Day, and vowed to have landmines non-existent by 2025.
“Twenty years ago, in the last months of her life, my mother campaigned to draw attention to the horrific and indiscriminate impact of landmines,” he said on behalf of the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and The HALO Trust.
“She visited affected areas such as Huambo in Angola and Travis in Bosnia. She heard how people in these communities lived in constant fear that each step may be their last,” he continued. “She met with those who had suffered life changing injuries as a result of anti-personnel mines, she listened to their stories, and helped share them with the world.”
2017 marks the 20th anniversary since the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty in Ottawa was signed. And many of the people involved in the treaty believe without Diana’s tours of Angola and Bosnia, the campaign would not have happened.
“I know if my mother was here with us today, she wouldn’t be willing to accept any credit for the fact that the Ottawa treaty was signed by 122 states in the same year as her visits to Angola and Bosnia,” Harry added. “Rather, she would have applauded the public outrage and resolve of those positions of power to end the indiscriminate killing of civilians. She would have applauded that, in a moment of global conscience, the treaty put humanitarian, not military, considerations at its heart.”
This year also marks the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death, and in her honour Harry wishes to keep this campaign alive. Harry himself has visited minefields in both Angola in 2013 and Mozambique in 2010, where he too walked in a minefield, met with amputees and witnessed the terrible impact landmines have on the people of those communities.
Harry introduced two landmine victims – Malic and Zarko – who his mother met during her visit in 1997.
“When my mother said goodbye to Zarko that August, just weeks before her untimely death, she told him he would not be forgotten,” Harry said. “Please help me keep her word to Zarko and Malic, and other people like them throughout the world, who still need us to finish the job and rid the planet of landmines. Collectively we have the knowledge, skill and resources to achieve it, so let’s make future generations proud and finish what we started.”