(Ottawa, Canada: December 1,1997) At 12.30pm local time, the Ban Bus reached its final destination – the Conference Center in Ottawa, Canada where the ban treaty signing ceremony will be held from December 3-4. A media melee ensued with over 25 television crews, and numerous radio and print media assembled to record the arrival of the Ban Bus. Canada’s Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy and Belgium’s Foreign Minister Erik Derycke stopped by to congratulate the Ban Bus participants for their remarkable achievement – “You’ve all done one hell of a job!” said Axworthy after being sprayed with champagne by Mette Eliseussen.
The ‘raging grannies’ and members of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) braved cold wind to welcome the Ban Bus. The Ban Bus and Jody Williams, Coordinator of the ICBL, then proceeded into the Conference Center for a press conference moderated by Mary Wareham, Coordinator of the US Campaign to Ban Landmines. Valarie Warmington, chair of Mines Action Canada – the Canadian campaign to ban landmines, welcomed the Ban Bus on behalf of Canadian non-governmental organizations. Mette Eliseussen, John Rodsted and Michael hands spoke on their experiences and reflections of their10,000 kilometer road trip.
The most commonly asked question for us was: ‘Why isn’t the United States signing the ban treaty?”, said Eliseussen. “We only met one person who spoke against the treaty and a ban – that was General Larry Dodgen of the Pentagon”, said Michael Hands. “We wanted to show the reality of this issue for millions of people around the world”, said John Rodsted. “We wanted to show that the campaign will not go away after December – not while there is demining and mine victim assistance which must continue to deal with the problem on the ground.
Jody Williams predicted 121 nations would sign the treaty in Ottawa this week which is beyond her most optimistic predictions over a year ago. The real surprise of this campaign is this damn treaty”, said Williams when replying to a reporter’s question on the significance of the Nobel Peace Prize award to the ICBL.
The Ban Bus participants are taking a well-deserved rest now. They will return to their homes after Ottawa and then back to their work in mine contaminated countries. The Ban Bus participants want to thank all the thousands of Americans who showed their support for the venture over the past five weeks. The Ban Bus gave exactly 100 presentations. The Ban Bus wishes to thanks its principle sponsors: Handicap International, Save the Children USA, Norwegian People’s Aid, Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, the Landmines Project of Open Society Institute, the Women’s Division of the United Methodist Church, UNICEF and the hundreds of people who have sent in donations or purchased ban bus t-shirts.