| Princess Diana: Activist for Landmine Survivors
The world is too little aware of the waste of life, limb and land which anti-personnel landmines are causing among some of the poorest people on earth.
— Princess Diana
Princess Diana was determined to make a difference in the lives of landmine survivors around the world. Her public commitment to ban landmines, and the attention she brought to this international issue, was an important catalyst in the adoption of the International Mine Ban Treaty in 1997. Princess Diana accompanied Landmine Survivors Network Co-founders Jerry White and Ken Rutherford to Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina, for the opening of the first Network office. “Many people heard of LSN only because of Diana's involvement,” White says. “She transformed landmines from a security issue into a humanitarian issue.”
Diana’s visit had an enormous impact. “You could just feel something big was happening. Everyone was so excited,” said Plamenko Priganica, Director of LSN Bosnia-Herzegovina. “Diana’s visit to Bosnia made Bosnians proud just to be Bosnians. It was just after the war, and after being in the news for so long because of the war, it felt good to be in the spotlight for a positive, humanitarian reason.”
“Diana’s visit was a crossroad for landmine survivors. Her visit put the issue on the right track, and not long afterwards, Bosnia signed the Mine Ban Treaty. Without Diana’s visit, there might not have ever been an LSN in Bosnia, and we would not have been able to reach all of the survivors we have helped over the past seven years,” said Priganica.
While in Bosnia, Princess Diana visited survivors in their homes and comforted the families of those who did not survive the devastating injuries. She met with local disability groups and rehabilitation specialists. Choosing not to visit with political dignitaries, she instead spent much of her trip with landmine victims (click here to read some of their stories). She helped put a human face on the destruction caused by landmines during the crucial juncture in the debate on a global landmine ban. Rutherford said. “She understood that after a ban there would still be victims. She was the first one to see that.”
Her ability to laugh, cry, comfort, and be with survivors is an enduring legacy of her final humanitarian mission “Diana saw the person, not the disability,” says White. Today, LSN is a leader in the campaign to create a treaty on the Rights of People with Disabilities, which seeks to redress the profound disadvantages people with disabilities face, often preventing them from full participation in life (click here for more information on LSN's Human Rights Advocacy).
Every year since Diana’s death, the Princess Diana Memorial Sitting Volleyball Tournament is held in Tuzla, Bosnia, to honor her memory. The Memorial Tournament also helps build civil society by bringing together as teammates, people from all groups who were once enemies.
Click Here to watch the video of Diana in Bosnia with LSN.
Click Here to read Survivor Stories from Bosnia and Herzegovina.