It is estimated that an average of 15,000 to 20,000 people are killed or injured by landmines each year worldwide. Initially, it was hoped that an agreement banning the production, sale, stockpiling and use of landmines could be reached in the U.N. Conference on Disarmament, a traditional forum for negotiation. However, frustrated by the international community’s inability to conclude a truly comprehensive agreement, a coalition of like-minded states and non-governmental organizations vowed to go it alone and pursue their own fast-track diplomacy. The Ottawa Process, as it was dubbed, broke new ground in public diplomacy by allowing non-state actors to participate directly in the negotiations. It was a case of “unconventional diplomacy.” Thanks to this concerted effort, in little more than a year, 123 countries signed a comprehensive treaty ban on landmines; it was a remarkable achievement. This paper will draw lessons from the Ottawa Process and assess the role of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in diplomacy.
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