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MEDIA ADVISORY: Arms Experts Welcome Congressional Support for Mine Ban Treaty
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For immediate release: May 8, 2010

Media contacts: Jeff Abramson, Deputy Director (202) 463-8270 x 109; Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x 107.

(Washington, D.C.) Experts at the Arms Control Association welcomed the pending delivery of letters signed by 68 Senators, as well as additional members of the House of Representatives, to President Obama supporting review of U.S. landmines policy and eventual accession to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.

“This bipartisan expression of Congressional support, especially that by more than two-third of the country’s Senators, should create the space for President Obama to do the right thing,” said Jeff Abramson, deputy director of the Arms Control Association.

“For a president seeking to demonstrate U.S. leadership in revitalizing international institutions and isolating states that flout international norms, joining the Mine Ban Treaty ought to be an easy decision,” said Daryl Kimball, Arms Control Association executive director.

“In the letter, U.S. leaders reiterated what the international community has been saying for years, that these weapons are indiscriminate killers and alternate solutions exist to meet military needs,” Abramson added.

Following a call from more than 60 national organizations in February 2009 for a new U.S. approach, the Obama administration announced late last year that it would conduct a comprehensive review of its antipersonnel landmine policy. Two months ago, national nongovernmental leaders again reiterated their demand for the United States to join the convention.

In the letters, members of Congress say, “We are confident that through a thorough, deliberative process the Administration can identify any obstacles to joining the Convention and develop a plan to overcome them as soon as possible.”

The 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, also known as the Mine Ban Treaty, entered into force in 1999. It bans the use of victim-activated antipersonnel landmines and sets timelines for their destruction and clearance.

More than 150 countries are party to the treaty, including all NATO allies with the exception of the United States, and all Western hemisphere states with the exception of Cuba and the United States. (Poland has already signed the treaty and intends to ratify it by 2012.)

The United has not used antipersonnel landmines since 1991, not exported them since 1992, nor produced them since 1997, according to the Congressional letter. Globally, the treaty has led to a dramatic reduction in the use, trade and production of the weapons.

“The Clinton administration put the United States on the path to joining the Mine Ban Treaty, but the Bush administration changed course. With this level of congressional support, President Obama should act quickly to see that the United States accedes to the treaty,” Abramson said.


Key Resources:

NGO Letter to President Obama, March 22, 2010: http://www.armscontrol.org/system/files/LandmineLetter_March2010.pdf

NGO Letter to President Obama, February 10, 2009: http://www.fcnl.org/weapons/pdfs/Obama_sign-on_letter_FINAL.pdf

Then-candidate Obama responses to Arms Control Today, 2008: http://www.armscontrol.org/2008election

ACA landmines resource page: http://www.armscontrol.org/subject/24/date