(WOMENSENEWS)–1997. Jody Williams, an American activist coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on Oct. 11. Williams founded the organization that worked hard and fast to encourage the banning and removal of anti-personnel mines around the globe.
Upon winning her award, Williams’ response was ever focused on her goal. From her backyard in Vermont, Williams, 47, criticized President Clinton, saying he “does not want to be on the side of humanity.” At the time the United States, Russia and China had not agreed to sign the proposed international treaty that would ban and clear land mines. They still have not agreed to sign.
The speed at which Williams was able to mobilize organizations and nations to develop a treaty in approximately 14 months was unprecedented. It was a grass-roots effort from Williams’ keyboard to activists around the world. With no staff and little funds, all of her communication and organizing was done via email.
A life-long activist, Williams has been described as determined, fearless, irreverent and unrelenting. She started the International Campaign to Band Landmines in 1992, and it grew to encompass over 1,000 nongovernmental organizations in over 60 countries by 1997. She was politically active in protesting the Vietnam War. She spent the 1980s building awareness of U.S. policy toward Central America.
In December 1997 in Ottawa, Canada, 120 nations signed the treaty to ban and clear 100 million land mines. Nations that did not sign include the United States, China and Russia. Clinton sited military risk for U.S. troops in Korea as his reason for not signing.