The European Union on Tuesday condemned U.S. President Donald Trump's decision last week to roll back restrictions on the American military's use of landmines despite the deadly history of the weapons around the world.
Virginie Battu-Henriksson, spokesperson for the E.U.'s diplomatic service, said in a statement that Trump's rescission of an Obama administration order banning landmine use outside of the Korean peninsula "undermines the global norm against anti-personnel mines."
That international norm, said Battu-Henriksson, "has saved tens of thousands of people in the past twenty years."
"The conviction that these weapons are incompatible with International Humanitarian Law has led 164 states to join the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention."
—Virginie Battu-Henriksson, European Union
"The majority of mine victims are children," Battu-Henriksson added. "The conviction that these weapons are incompatible with International Humanitarian Law has led 164 states to join the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, including all member states of the European Union. Their use anywhere, anytime, and by any actor remains completely unacceptable to the European Union."
The E.U.'s statement came days after the Trump White House announced Friday that it officially canceled the previous administration's policy restricting landmine use by the U.S. military, a move arms control groups and peace activists warned could lead to an increase in civilian deaths and set back the global movement to rid the planet of the dangerous weapons of war.
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"Mr. Trump's policy rollback is a step toward the past, like many of his other decisions, and sends exactly the wrong message to those working to rid the world of the scourge of landmines," anti-war activist Jody Williams, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work to ban landmines, told Common Dreams in an email last week.
Leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidates joined the chorus denouncing Trump's decision.
In a tweet on Saturday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called the move "abhorrent" and vowed to "reverse this decision and work with our allies to eliminate landmines."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), in a statement to Vox on Monday, said "Trump's landmine policy reversal is barbaric, weakens America's moral leadership, and is quite simply a giveaway to the military-industrial complex."
If elected, Sanders said his administration would "reinstate the ban on their production and use outside of the Korean peninsula, and also work to achieve a North-South Korean peace agreement that would ultimately result in their being withdrawn from the Korean peninsula as well."