For immediate release: March 22, 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.) Today, experts from the Arms Control Association joined with leaders of 65 national organizations urging President Barack Obama to accede to the 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.
"We have not used antipersonnel landmines in nearly two decades and our allies have already rejected them," said Jeff Abramson, deputy director of the Arms Control Association.
"It's time for the United States to get on the right side of the international norm on these indiscriminate weapons and accede to the Mine Ban treaty," Abramson said.
"By joining the Mine Ban treaty, the United States would formally abandon the use of a class of weapons that are not essential for our military operations and that hamper our ability to help local populations in conflict zones recover and rebuild," said ACA Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball.
The Mine Ban Treaty, also known as the Ottawa Convention, was concluded in 1997 and entered into force March 1, 1999. Today, 156 countries are legally bound by it.
Each of these countries has committed to complete the clearance of mine-impacted land under their jurisdiction and to destroying their stockpiles of antipersonnel landmines, with the exception of the "minimum number absolutely necessary" for detection and destruction training.
By far the world's largest funder of mine action assistance, the United States has not used antipersonnel landmines since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, has prohibited their export since 1992, and has not produced new antipersonnel mines since 1997. The Clinton administration set up a path for the United States to join the Mine Ban Treaty, but the Bush administration rejected the treaty.
As a senator, Barack Obama was supportive of restricting procurement of victim-activated landmines. During the campaign, Obama told Arms Control Today that he would "regain our leadership...[by] honoring U.S. commitments to seek alternatives to landmines."
At the Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World in late 2009, the United States government indicated that its participation at the meeting "is the result of an on-going comprehensive review of U.S. landmine policy initiated at the direction of President Obama."
In the letter delivered today, signatories including the Arms Control Association congratulate the president for launching the review and call for a decision leading to U.S. accession to the treaty.
"The last steps to joining the treaty are now achievable, and vitally important to United States efforts to protect civilians during and after armed conflict, strengthen international norms, and isolate irresponsible regimes," the letter to the President states.
Letter to President Obama, March 22, 2010: http://www.armscontrol.org/system/files/LandmineLetter_March2010.pdf
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