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US: Ban Landmines

US to Participate in Mine Ban Treaty Meeting for First Time


The United States should commit to join the international treaty
banning antipersonnel landmines when it attends a milestone meeting of
the agreement beginning November 29, 2009, Human Rights Watch said

For years the US has obeyed most of the key provisions of the Mine
Ban Treaty - no use, no production, and no trade - while strongly
supporting international programs to get mines out of the ground and to
help victims. But it has not acceded to the treaty.

"It's time for the US to turn its landmine practice into policy,"
said Steve Goose, Arms Division director at Human Rights Watch.
"President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton should instruct
officials who plan to be at the meeting to confirm publicly that the US
is committed to joining the Mine Ban Treaty in the near future."

The US has not used, produced, or exported antipersonnel mines in
the 12 years since the Mine Ban Treaty was established in 1997. That
year, the Clinton administration set the objective of joining the Mine
Ban Treaty in 2006, but the Bush administration reversed course in

The Obama administration has not yet taken a position on the
landmine ban, but in mid-November the US registered to attend the
Second Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty. It will be the first
time that the US has been officially represented at a formal meeting of
the treaty. More than 100 governments are expected to attend the
high-level event in Cartagena, Colombia, also known as the "Cartagena
Summit on a Mine-Free World."

"Engaging with its allies under the framework of the Mine Ban Treaty
is a positive step, but the US should not arrive empty-handed in
Cartagena," Goose said. "The US needs to come to the table expressing a
sincere commitment to relinquish this weapon and join the treaty."

A total of 156 nations are party to the Mine Ban Treaty, and another
two countries have signed but have not yet ratified. Nearly all of the
37 states that have not yet joined are in de facto compliance with most
of the treaty's provisions. According to Landmine Monitor Report 2009,
an annual survey issued on November 12 by Human Rights Watch and other
members of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL),
significant progress has been made in eradicating antipersonnel mines
since the Mine Ban Treaty took effect:

  • Global use, production, and trade of antipersonnel mines have been dramatically curtailed;
  • Some 3,200 square kilometers of land has been cleared of mines and explosive remnants of war;
  • The number of new mine and explosive remnants of war casualties has
    significantly reduced each year, down to 5,197 recorded casualties in
    2008, compared to an estimated 26,000 recorded and unrecorded
    casualties per year in the 1990s; and
  • More than 44 million stockpiled antipersonnel mines have been destroyed by states party to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Human Rights Watch is a founding member of the International
Campaign to Ban Landmines, which received the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize
for its efforts to bring about the Mine Ban Treaty and for its
contributions to a new international diplomacy based on humanitarian
imperatives. Human Rights Watch is responsible for editing the ban
policy sections of the ICBL's annual Landmine Monitor report.

Human Rights Watch is one of the world's leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.