WHAT: Telephone Press Briefing
WHEN: Monday, Nov. 23, 2009, 10:00 - 11:00 A.M.
Click here for transcript of this event. Announcement of the event is immediately below.
(Washington, D.C., Nov. 17) - From Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, representatives of the 156 states party to the Mine Ban Treaty will meet in Cartagena, Colombia, to review 10 years of progress under the accord. In a telephone press briefing Monday, Nov. 23, arms and humanitarian experts will provide perspectives and information on the Treaty, the upcoming review conference, and explain the case for a U.S. decision to join the treaty.
Despite being the world's largest donor to mine clearance and victim assistance, and complying with key provisions of the Mine Ban Treaty, the United States has not joined the treaty. The Clinton administration set the United States on a path to join the Mine Ban Treaty in 2006, but the Bush administration rejected that plan in 2004. In February of this year, 67 national organizations called on President Obama to review U.S. landmine and cluster munitions policy as a step toward joining the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The United States will be represented at the Cartagena Summit, marking the first official U.S. participation at a formal Mine Ban Treaty states-parties meeting.
"U.S. participation in the Cartagena review conference is a positive step, but it is unclear whether it signals a shift in the Obama administration's approach to the Mine Ban Treaty," said Jeff Abramson, deputy director of the Arms Control Association.
"A commitment to join the Mine Ban Treaty would bring the United States in line with its key NATO allies and demonstrate again President Obama's dedication to multilateral diplomacy and international institutions which the Nobel Committee cited in selecting him for this year's Peace Prize," Abramson added.
"In the decade since the Mine Ban Treaty took effect, antipersonnel mines have been thoroughly stigmatized and relegated to the dustbin of history," said Steve Goose, arms division director at Human Rights Watch.
"The United States has much to gain and nothing to lose by joining the treaty," Goose argued. He will attend the Cartagena Summit as Head of Delegation for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997.
Even though the United States is a global leader in providing victim assistance funding, the most recent Landmine Monitor report found that "victim assistance has made the least progress of all the major sectors of mine action, with funding and action falling far short of what was needed."
"A U.S. decision to join the Mine Ban Treaty would signal that significant work still needs to be done to aid those impacted by landmines and other war debris in the sector of victim assistance," noted Wendy Batson, executive director of Handicap International-U.S..
More than 1,000 people are expected to attend the Cartagena Summit, and dozens of countries will be represented by their heads of state, or foreign or defense ministers.
Wendy Batson, Executive Director, Handicap International-U.S.
Steve Goose, Director, Arms Division, Human Rights Watch
Jeff Abramson (moderator), Deputy Director, Arms Control Association.
Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World - http://www.cartagenasummit.gov.co/
Landmine Monitor Report 2009: Toward a Mine-Free World - http://lm.icbl.org/index.php/publications/display?url=lm/2009/
Human Rights Watch Landmine Resource Page - http://www.hrw.org/en/category/topic/arms/landmines
Letter to Obama Administration from 67 national organizations requesting a review of U.S. policy on landmines and cluster bombs - http://www.armscontrol.org/system/files/Obama_sign-on_letter_FINAL.pdf
For more information on landmines and the Mine Ban Treaty, contact Jeff Abramson at [email protected] or (202) 463-8270 x 109.