US Bans Landmines Except in Korea

    President Barack Obama announces a new landmine policy during his speech at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting on September 23, 2014.

    On September 23, the White House announced a new policy committing to not use antipersonnel landmines anywhere except on the Korean Peninsula and pledging not to assist, encourage, or induce other nations to use, stockpile, produce or transfer antipersonnel mines outside of Korea. This comes on the heels of a June 27 policy announcement that committed the US to a ban on the production and acquisition of antipersonnel mines. In commenting on the new policy, President Barack Obama cited the dedicated efforts of Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams and civil society. Senator Patrick Leahy described the no use commitment as “a crucial step that makes official what has been de facto U.S. practice for a decade and a half.” The US Campaign to Ban Landmines views the new policy as a positive step, but said the geographic exception for Korea must be overcome if the US is to ever join the Mine Ban Treaty. See the reactions by Human Rights Watch and Handicap International US.

    President Obama urged to go further on landmine ban

    US Ambassador Douglas Griffiths announces new US landmine policy at the Mine Ban Treaty’s Third Review Conference in Maputo, Mozambique on June 27, 2014 © Mine Ban Treaty Implementation Support Unit, 2014

    In a letter to President Obama, the US Campaign to Ban Landmines welcomes the US statement of intent to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty in the future and its commitment not to produce or acquire antipersonnel landmines ever again as positive steps in the right direction. But the nationwide coalition says additional measures are needed to ensure that landmines are never used again and suggests a number of steps the Obama administration should undertake as it concludes the review. This includes an explicit moratorium on use and accelerated destruction of existing stocks of antipersonnel mines, a vote in favor of the annual non-binding United Nations General Assembly resolution on the Mine Ban Treaty, and preparing the accession documents for President Obama to send the Mine Ban Treaty package to the Senate for its advice and consent before he leave office on January 21, 2017. Campaign chair Human Rights Watch has also issued a Questions and Answers paper reviewing the main elements of the new US landmine policy. See the Letter and Q & A.

    Positive Changes in U.S. Landmine Policy Stop Short

    US delegation to the Mine Ban Treaty meets with Mozambican landmine survivors during the Mine Ban Treaty's Third Review Conference on June 24, 2014 © ICBL, June 2014

    On June 27, 2014, the United States announced that it intends to join the Mine Ban Treaty in the future, and will not produce or acquire antipersonnel landmines. This is a positive step, but falls short of what is needed to ensure the weapons are never used again. The U.S. Ambassador to Mozambique Douglas M. Griffiths made the announcement at the Mine Ban Treaty’s 3rd Review Conference in Maputo, which the US attended as an observer. The ambassador declared that the U.S. is “diligently pursuing … solutions that would be compliant” with the Mine Ban Treaty and “that would ultimately allow us to accede” to it. This reinforces that the 1997 treaty provides the best possible framework for achieving a world free of antipersonnel mines, and that antipersonnel mines are not legitimate weapons. Read the press release here...

    No Excuse for Lack of U.S. Policy on Banning Landmines

    Mozambique’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Henrique Banze (second from the right) is serving as president of the Mine Ban Treaty’s Maputo Review Conference © ICBL, April 2014

    Next week, United States officials will be in the embarrassing and unfortunate position of having to tell a high-level meeting of the Mine Ban Treaty that the President Barack Obama’s administration has yet to complete its years-long landmine policy review. U.S. officials have confirmed to campaigners that the United States will not have anything of substance to report regarding the policy review when it sends a delegation to observe the high-level Third Review Conference of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty hosted  by Mozambique in Maputo on June 23-27.

    The U.S. raised expectations globally in 2009, when it formally participated as an observer for the first time in a meeting the Mine Ban Treaty and informed the treaty’s Second Review Conference that the policy review was underway. U.S. representatives told the 2012 annual Meeting of States Parties of the treaty that the review would be concluded “soon” and in 2013 told them the review was “pressing forward to a conclusion.” The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines has repeatedly urged that the outcome of the policy review be a decision to join the Mine Ban Treaty as soon as possible, to prohibit the use of antipersonnel mines immediately, and to begin destruction of all stocks of antipersonnel mines. A January 31, 2014 letter to President Obama reiterated this call. In a press release issued today, the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines chair remarked that “financial contributions provided by the U.S. to Mozambique and other affected nations to assist with clearing mined areas are overshadowed by the unwillingness of the U.S. to address the hard question of itself giving up antipersonnel landmines.” Read the release here...

    Mine Ban Needed, Not Just Mine Action Funding

    A woman deminer in Cambodia © Mary Wareham, HRW, 2011

    As the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on Friday, April 4 approaches, calls are intensifying for the Obama Administration to conclude its review of United States’ policy on banning antipersonnel landmines with a decision to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) has launched a series of floor statements to urge the US to join the international treaty without delay. The United States Campaign to Ban Landmines has called on the US to “match its financial commitment to clearing landmines with a political commitment to ensure it never uses these indiscriminate weapons again.” In a letter to President Obama, USCBL chair Human Rights Watch has called for the policy review to conclude now so that the US announces the results at the Mine Ban Treaty’s Third Review Conference, which opens in Maputo, Mozambique on June 23. Events to commemorate 2014 Mine Action Day are taking place in New York, Washington DC, San Francisco, and in countries around the world. Read more…

    Report on US event on the Mine Ban Treaty

    The United States Campaign to Ban Landmines has prepared a report on the proceedings of the US and the Mine Ban Treaty symposium that it held together with the Mine Ban Treaty’s Implementation Support Unit at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington DC on February 19. The event featured keynote addresses from Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, Mine Ban Treaty envoy Prince Mired Bin Raad Al-Hussein of Jordan, and Senator Patrick Leahy. It also featured an expert panel on the United States and landmines. Ambassador Amélia Sumbana of Mozambique delivered closing remarks on behalf of the President-Designate of the Mine Ban Treaty’s Third Review Conference, which will be held in Maputo in June 2014. See the report here…

    Event on US and the Mine Ban Treaty

    PHOTO: Sarneta, a member of Handicap International’s all-female demining team in North Inhambane, Mozambique. © J-J Bernard / Handicap International, March 2011

    The US Campaign to Ban Landmines is pleased announce the line-up of speakers for the special event on the United States and the Mine Ban Treaty event it is holding in Washington DC on Wednesday, February 19 together with the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention Implementation Support Unit. This half-day event aims to promote the Mine Ban Treaty and its objectives ahead of its Third Review Conference in Mozambique in June 2014 as well as highlight the need for a positive conclusion to the US landmine policy review. The event will be live-streamed and live-tweeted. To RSVP, see the invitation...

    The event will open with keynote addresses by Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, HRH Prince Mired Raad Al Hussein of Jordan, and Senator Patrick Leahy. These speakers will be introduced by François Rivasseau, deputy head of the EU delegation to the US, who was involved in the negotiations of the Mine Ban Treaty in the 1990s on behalf of France. The expert panel on US landmine policy moderated by Rachel Stohl from the Stimson Center will feature a mine action practicioner, a landmine survivor, a retired general, and the chair of the US Campaign to Ban Landmines. The concluding remarks will be made by Ambassador Amélia Matos Sumbana of Mozambique, on behalf of the president of the Mine Ban Treaty’s the Third Review Conference. See the Program…

    Unable to attend? Please click here for a live feed starting at 9:30am on February 19th.

    Action Needed on Long-Awaited US Landmine Policy Review

    A decision is believed to be imminent on the United States landmine policy review, which began in 2009. The US Campaign to Ban Landmines has repeatedly urged that the outcome of the policy review be a decision to join the Mine Ban Treaty as soon as possible, to prohibit the use of antipersonnel mines immediately, and to begin destruction of all stocks of antipersonnel mines. In a January 31, 2014 letter to President Barack Obama, the leadership of the US Campaign to Ban Landmines reiterated this call and urged the US to explain its landmine policy review decision at the Mine Ban Treaty’s Third Review Conference, which opens in Maputo, Mozambique on June 23, 2014. Read more...

    On Wednesday, February 19, the US Campaign to Ban Landmines and the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention Implementation Support Unit, with the support of the European Union, are holding an event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, DC on the United States and the Mine Ban Treaty. Confirmed speakers include Nobel Peace Laureate Ms. Jody Williams and Prince Mired Bin Raad Al-Hussein of Jordan, Special Envoy for the Mine Ban Convention. See invitation...

    U.S. Once Again Fails to Announce Promised Landmine Policy Review Outcome

    At the close of the Mine Ban Treaty Meeting in Geneva on December 5, the U.S. delegation provided no further substantive information on the progress of the administration's landmine policy review, which was initiated in 2009.  One year ago, at this same annual meeting, the U.S. delegation assured States Parties that it would conclude the long-delayed review “soon.” At a later public briefing, the head of the U.S. delegation further clarified that “soon” would be consistent with a reasonable understanding of the word, and that he believed—at the outside—that an announcement of the decision of the review would take place no later than the meeting which just concluded. Yet at this meeting, the head of the U.S. delegation made a new statement with no other information than that the policy review is “pressing forward.” USCBL responded by pointing out that the administration is not taking the review seriously enough or making it a priority--and that during the same four years that the administration has avoided making the decisions necessary to join this lifesaving convention, more than 16,000 men, women, and children have been killed or maimed by a landmine, many by U.S. munitions, and ten more casualties will continue to occur every day moving forward as they continue to postpone. Read more...