August 2011 Newsletter – OpEd: Much Work Ahead After First Year In Cluster Munitions Treaty

Posted: Aug 17, 2011


 August 2011 Newsletter

Legacies of War was created to raise awareness about the history of the Vietnam War-era bombing in Laos, to provide space for healing the wounds of war and to create greater hope for a future of peace.  
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It’s budget time in Washington. Your support will help Legacies to ensure that sufficient resources are allocated to the UXO sector in Laos.



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Call for Fall Interns

Applications due August 31


Advocacy Intern

This individual will assist in the development and implementation of policy strategies and work with the Executive Director in meeting the advocacy goals of Legacies of War. This position requires the individual to be motivated and to possess sound judgment and diplomatic skills. Announcement

Communications Intern

This individual will work closely with the Executive Director in meeting the outreach and marketing goals of Legacies of War. This position requires the individual to be motivated, collaborative, organized and to possess excellent communications and interpersonal skills. Experience in marketing or communications with solid emphasis on writing, messaging, Internet communication and design are preferred. Announcement


Legacies at the 2nd Annual LANA Conference

Please email resume and cover letter to Ms. Channapha Khamvongsa, Executive Director, Legacies of War at

by August 31, 2011.


Have you signed the petition yet?


Ask the U.S. government to increase funding for cluster bomb removal in Laos and assist victims and affected families.

Sign the petition today and get involved!


Quick Fact


At least 20,000 people have been killed or injured by unexploded ordnance in Laos since the Vietnam War-era bombings ended.



Senegal 60th State to Ratify Treaty


On August 3, 2011, Senegal became the latest state to officially ratify the Convention Cluster on Cluster Munitions. The Convention has now been ratified by 60 of its 109 signatories.

 Related Links


CNN: CNN: U.S. cluster munitions haunt Southeast Asia

Roll Call: Richardier and MacNairn: U.S. Should Take the Final Step to Ban Land Mines



Updated Resources

check out the latest data and info 


summer 2011 interns
Emily Chaisone (Dominion High School), Laurent Cote (Princeton University), May Vongvirath (Liberty University)

“It has been an exciting summer here at Legacies. As advocacy intern, I’ve been working with Executive Director Channapha Khamvongsa and our many wonderful volunteers to educate key decision makers in Washington about the UXO crisis in Laos. We’ve made real progress in highlighting the importance of this issue and the need for increased U.S. support. One moment that stands out for me was the publication of a letter from six former U.S. Ambassadors and Chiefs of Mission to Laos endorsing Legacies of War’s funding requests and calling on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to reaffirm her commitment to this issue by visiting Laos. I was fortunate enough to be involved in the process leading up to the publication of this letter and I am encouraged by the response it has received from State Department officials. All in all, I have had a truly wonderful experience at Legacies. My warmest thanks go out to our friends, volunteers, the Board of Directors and of course to Channapha for welcoming me so generously into the organization.”

– Laurent Cote

“As the summer communications intern at Legacies of War, I greatly enjoyed my time and opportunity working in DC. This summer, I was fortunate enough to go on my first visit to the Hill and meet congressional staff. As a government major, that allowed me to see the actual process of advocating to staff members. Fundraising is a big part of non-profits and this summer we had our Sap Lai Lao food cuisine tasting in July. As a communications intern, it was my job to make and send out invitations, secure RSVP’s, advertise, organize materials, and make sure things go smoothly. The event ended up being a great success! Many people attended, learned about our organization, and even donated, which was everything we had hoped for! For future interns: if you’re ready to work and be hands on with every campaign or project then this is definitely for you. I hope to continue my work with Legacies even after I am done because this is such a great issue and organization that needs to be known.”


– May Vongvirath


August 12, 2011 – This month on August 1st, we mark the one-year anniversary of the Entry into Force of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Those who ratified the treaty agreed to halt the use of these inhumane weapons. This treaty also includes provisions calling for support for clearance, stockpile destruction and victim assistance.
For many of us in Minnesota, particularly refugees from Southeast Asia, it is a bittersweet reminder of our constant journey. The US has yet to sign on to the Convention, which is one of the most significant international disarmament and humanitarian treaty in more than a decade. Last year, over 107 countries signed the treaty and 37 countries ratified it.
In Minnesota, we’ve convened several events to recognize the Convention on Cluster Munitions, including the Legacies of War exhibit at Intermedia Arts as well as displays at the Loft Literary Center, the Hmong National Conference and the Brookdale Library, film screenings and formal and informal discussions about what the unexploded weapons have meant to the Lao, Hmong, Cambodian, and Vietnamese among many others. This includes communities in Africa, the Middle East and Europe. The Lao PDR, the most heavily bombed country, per capita, in history was one of the first countries to sign the treaty and they hosted the convention’s First Meeting of State Parties in Vientiane, Lao PDR, in November 2010 (read more).
By: Bryan Thao Worra, AAP Staff Writer

Monday, August 1 was a special day here at Legacies as we joined with friends around the world to celebrate the first anniversary of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The Convention on Cluster Munitions is a groundbreaking agreement signed by 109 states to date, which prohibits the use, production and stockpiling of cluster bombs. Countries began signing the treaty on December 3, 2008 in Oslo, and it became international law on August 1, 2010.
The Convention has now been ratified by 60 of its 109 signatories, with Senegal being the latest to do so earlier this month. Laos ratified the Convention on March 18, 2009 and hosted the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention in Vientiane from November 8-12, 2010. The next meeting will take place in Beirut, Lebanon, from September 12-16, 2011.
What has Laos done? 

In order to meet the clearance goals set by the Convention, Laos has introduced a ten year plan, the Safe Path Forward II, which aims to reduce unexploded ordnance casualties to less than 75 per year by clearing thousands of hectares of land. Given the sheer magnitude of the problem in Laos, it is not possible to clear all unexploded cluster munitions. The Safe Path Forward II represents an important step forward by prioritizing clearance of agricultural land in the most affected areas. Huge progress has already been made. In the past two years, there has been an unprecedented drop in the annual casualty rate, from approximately 300 a year to less than 120 per year. In the last 15 years, over one million units of unexploded ordnance have been removed and more than 23,000 hectares of land have been cleared for agriculture and development.


La Bang Num Village, Nong District, Savannakhet Province – Mr. Lath (60) is a farmer and father of three. Every day, he and his wife wake up early to work on their farm, returning only at sunset. Mr. Lath was unaware that his family was living in an area contaminated by UXO.
On June 8, 2011, Mr. Lath went into the jungle to collect food. He stepped on a white phosphorus bomb hidden in the thick forest ground which seriously injured his right leg. After trying to walk 4 kilometers to his home, Mr. Lath was taken to the provincial hospital for treatment.
Luk Sam Ship Ha Village, Pak Song District, Champasack Province – Mr. Seng (25) and Mr. Thon (20) work on a plantation in Champasak Province to support their parents and siblings. As they were walking together near the camp, Mr. Thon stepped on a piece of unexploded ordnance which immediately ignited. Mr. Thon died of his injuries after being treated for four days at the provincial hospital. Mr. Seng was left with severe arm, leg and back injuries.
Peung Pa Village, Phoukoud District, Xiengkhouang Province – June is planting season on upland rice fields in Laos. At the crack of dawn, Ms. Bang (20) and five of her cousins went out to plant crops. As always, she set up a fire for lunch. But the heat of the fire set off a piece of unexploded ammunition buried underground. The explosion left her with serious injuries. Ms. Bang has a baby boy to care for while her husband is away working in remote areas to support the family.
Dak Ta Oak Gai Village, Dakcheung District, Xekong Province – Vannakham (12) studies at secondary school, though he is rarely able to attend because he must support his family by selling coffee beans. He was helping his parents to cut grass around their coffee trees during the rainy season when he saw a round metal object lying untouched on the ground. Naturally curious, Vannakham tried to pick up the object, an unexploded cluster bomblet. The resulting explosion left him with serious hand injuries.
Sack Soad village, Phoukoud District, Xiengkhouang Province– Dalee (8) is the second of eight siblings in his family. He studies at the local secondary school and also works to support his family by selling vegetables. Dalee had just finished his second semester of school and was happy to be starting his summer holidays. He and two friends went out to a field to feed his cow when Dalee’s curiosity was piqued by an unexploded artillery shell. He threw a stone at it, triggering an immediate explosion. Dalee had to be hospitalized and lost part of his right hand.

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