Aids and Land Mines

1987 April

Created by Millie on 15/02/2007
In April 1987, the Princess of Wales was one of the first high-profile celebrities to be photographed touching a person infected with HIV. Her contribution to changing the public opinion of AIDS sufferers was summarised in December 2001 by Bill Clinton at the 'Diana, Princess of Wales Lecture on AIDS': “ In 1987, when so many still believed that AIDS could be contracted through casual contact, Princess Diana sat on the sickbed of a man with AIDS and held his hand. She showed the world that people with AIDS deserve no isolation, but compassion and kindness. It helped change world's opinion, and gave hope to people with AIDS. ” —Bill Clinton Diana did not, however, become seriously involved in promoting AIDS-research initiatives or in campaigns limiting the spread of the disease. Diana also supposedly made clandestine visits to show kindness to the sick. According to nurses, she would turn up unannounced (for example, at the Mildmay Hospice in London) with specific instructions that her visit was to be concealed from the media. In fact, information about these "private" visits regularly appeared in the press. The pictures of Diana touring an already-cleared Angolan minefield, in a ballistic helmet and flak jacket were seen worldwide. It was during this campaign that conservatives accused the Princess of meddling in politics and declared her a 'loose cannon'. In August that year, just days before her death, she visited Bosnia with the Landmine Survivors Network. Her interest in landmines was focused on the injuries they create, often to children, long after a conflict is over. She is believed to have influenced the signing, though only after her death, of the Ottawa Treaty, which created an international ban on the use of anti-personnel landmines.Introducing the Second Reading of the Landmines Bill 1998 to the British House of Commons, the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, paid tribute to Diana's work on landmines: “ All Honourable Members will be aware from their postbags of the immense contribution made by Diana, Princess of Wales to bringing home to many of our constituents the human costs of landmines. The best way in which to record our appreciation of her work, and the work of NGOs that have campaigned against landmines, is to pass the Bill, and to pave the way towards a global ban on landmines. ” —Robin Cook As of January 2005, however, Diana's activities, and hopeful legacy regarding landmines had become stuck. The United Nations appealed to the nations which produced and stockpiled the largest numbers of landmines (China, India, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States) to sign the Ottawa Treaty forbidding their production and use, for which Diana had campaigned. Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), said that landmines remained "a deadly attraction for children, whose innate curiosity and need for play often lure them directly into harm's way".

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