For Immediate Release

Campaign Reiterates Call for Biden to Move Away from Landmines

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines expresses deep concern following today’s statement attributed to Department of Defense spokesperson Mike Howard that U.S. landmine policy remained unchanged and that antipersonnel landmines “remain a vital tool in conventional warfare that the United States military cannot responsibly forgo.”  Additional statements appear to indicate the Defense Department continues to review the policy.

“There is nothing ‘conventional’ about landmines,” said Jeff Meer, Steering Committee Chair for USCBL-USCMC and U.S. Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion.  “When 164 countries have banned antipersonnel landmines, then this weapon, which hungers for civilians, becomes nothing but ‘unconventional.’”

“President Biden has an opportunity right now to make a move that the world has been waiting for the U.S. to take since the 1990s: join the Mine Ban Treaty,” said Steve Goose, Director, Arms Division, Human Rights Watch

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As a candidate, Joe Biden indicated he would reverse the Trump era policy and return to much stricter limits on landmines -- which under the Obama administration also included the goal of joining the Mine Ban Treaty. “We hope that President Biden will act quickly to reverse this Defense Department message. It was the wrong policy when announced last year, and one he has promised to reverse. He should do so immediately,” said Jeff Abramson, coordinator of the USCBL-USCMC.

According to Vox reporting in February 2020, the Biden campaign wrote in in an email, "The Trump administration’s reversal of years of considered decisions by Democratic and Republican presidents to curtail the use of landmines is another reckless act [...] It will put more civilians at risk of being injured by unexploded mines, and is unnecessary from a military perspective. As president, I will promptly roll back this deeply misguided decision.”

Antipersonnel landmines are indiscriminate weapons that disproportionately impact civilians, especially children. The USCBL reiterates its recommendation to the President that the United States move away from the use of antipersonnel landmines, not toward them, and join the Mine Ban Treaty, as 164 countries, including all of the U.S. NATO allies, have done.

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The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines-U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition (USCBL-USCMC) is the U.S. affiliate of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the global Cluster Munition Coalition. The civil society coalition works to end the suffering caused by landmines and cluster munitions, which cause unacceptable harm to civilians both at their time of deployment and for decades after.

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