For Immediate Release
Senators and Representatives Support Ban on Landmines: Letters Sent to President Obama
WASHINGTON - A letter signed by 68 senators, asking the administration to join the 1997 Landmine
Ban Treaty, was delivered to President Obama on Tuesday. The signers include 10
Republicans and two Independents and constitute more than the two-thirds of the
Senate needed to ratify a treaty.
Patrick Leahy (VT-D) and Sen. George Voinovich (OH-R) circulated the Senate
letter, and a similar letter in support of the Senate initiative, circulated by
Rep. James McGovern (MA-D) and Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-R) in the House of
Representatives, was also delivered to President Obama. The existence of the
letters was made public on May 8, but the final versions, with all signatures,
was delivered Tuesday.
describing the use of antipersonnel landmines, Sen. Patrick Leahy said, “The
idea that a modern military like ours would be using indiscriminate, victim-activated
weapons today is hard to reconcile with our current military objectives,
particularly when you consider that the two countries (Iraq and Afghanistan)
where our troops are fighting are parties to the treaty and the members of the
coalition that we are leading in Afghanistan are also parties to the
Administration launched a review of U.S. landmine policy late last year, and in
the letters the legislators say that they are “confident that through a
thorough, deliberative review the Administration can identify any obstacles to
joining the Convention and develop a plan to overcome them as soon as
James McGovern, who circulated the letter in the House, said, "A thorough
review will show that the U.S. can play an even greater role in the world on
landmines by formally joining the ban. The Senate letter demonstrates the
support is there."
Congressional letters follow a letter sent to President Obama on March 22 by
leaders from 65 national nongovernmental organizations that also urge the U.S.
to relinquish antipersonnel landmines and join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty without
strong support these letters have received shows that Congress is firmly behind
accession to the Mine Ban Treaty,” said Zach Hudson, the coordinator of the
U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines (USCBL). "The U.S. has not used these
barbaric weapons in 19 years. With these letters, Congress adds its voice to
that of the American people in calling on our government to join our NATO allies—and
all of the 158 nations that have joined this treaty—and eliminate the use of
landmines once and for all.”
The USCBL, currently coordinated by Handicap International, is a coalition of thousands of people and U.S. non-governmental organizations working to: (1) ensure no U.S. use, production, or transfer of antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions; (2) encourage the U.S. to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions; and (3) secure high levels of U.S. government support for clearance and assistance programs for victims of landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war.
The USCBL is the U.S. affiliate of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL)—the co-laureate of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize—and is a member of the Cluster Munition Coalition, an international coalition working to protect civilians from the effects of cluster munitions by promoting universal adherence to and full implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.