Arms Experts Welcome Nobel Laureate Call for Obama to Join Mine Ban Treaty

For immediate release: November 30, 2010

Media contacts: Jeff Abramson, Deputy Director (202) 463-8270 x 109.

(Washington, D.C.) Experts at the Arms Control Association welcomed the call for President Obama to join Mine Ban Treaty made today by more than a dozen Nobel Peace Prize winners.

“Time is well overdue for President Obama to show leadership on this issue and sign the Mine Ban Treaty,” said Jeff Abramson, Arms Control Association deputy director.

“The Nobel Laureates who authored today’s letter know that presidents face tough choices, many of them having been former presidents, and call upon their fellow prize winner to make the right decision,” he added.

The group, comprised of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Jody Williams, President Oscar Arias Sanchez, President F.W. De Klerk, President Jose Ramos-Horta, Mohamed El Baradei, Mairead Maguire, Betty Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Wangari Maathai, John Hume, and Elie Wiesel write, “We understand that policy deliberations can be complicated, particularly on military matters and arms control.  Yet in this instance we believe that there is a clear case to be made for the moral and humanitarian imperative for the U.S. to relinquish antipersonnel mines and join the Mine Ban Treaty – especially since it has closely followed the core obligations of the Mine Ban Treaty for many years now.”

“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.

“We appreciate that as President, you have many aspects to consider in making such a decision.  But we also know that you feel deeply the suffering of the innocents affected by war and its aftermath, and should have no trouble recognizing that the devastating impact of landmines on civilians is a terror of its own sort,” the Nobel Laureates said.

For more than a year, the administration has been conducting a comprehensive review of its landmine policy, following a call from more than 60 national organizations in February 2009 for a new U.S. approach on the weapons.

As it did last year for the first time, the United States is officially participating in a Mine Ban Treaty states-parties meeting. This year’s meeting ends December 3.

In May, 68 Senators, as well as additional members of the House of Representatives, delivered a letter to President Obama supporting review of U.S. landmines policy and eventual accession to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.

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 States in not known to have used antipersonnel landmines banned by the treaty since 1991, not exported them since 1992, nor produced them since 1997. Globally, the treaty has led to a dramatic reduction in the use, trade and production of the weapons.

Key Resources:

Nobel Laureates Letter to President Obama, November 30, 2010:

Senate and House Letters to President Obama, May 25, 2010:

NGO Letter to President Obama, March 22, 2010:

NGO Letter to President Obama, February 10, 2009:

Then-candidate Obama responses to Arms Control Today, 2008:

ACA landmines resource page: