Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Before he leaves office President Barack Obama should send the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent said the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines today in a letter to the president. Human Rights Watch, which chairs the coalition, signed the letter together with representives of groups such as the American Friends Service CommitteeArms Control AssociationCenter for Civilians in ConflictHandicap International U.S.Legacies of WarRoots of Peace, and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF as well as local and student groups. U.S. landmine survivor Ken Rutherford is among the signatories.

The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines welcomes most aspects of the landmine policy announced by the administration on June 27 and September 23, 2014. Under this policy, the U.S. has banned production and acquisition of antipersonnel landmines, as well as their use outside of the Korean Peninsula, and also committed not to assist, encourage, or induce other nations to use, stockpile, produce, or transfer antipersonnel mines outside of Korea. 

It however objects strenously to the Korea exception on mine use, expressing concern that the Pentagon is using a “high fidelity modeling and simulation” study into landmine alternatives to justify the continuation of its geographic exception to the ban. As commander-in-chief, the campaign believes it is incumbent on the president to make the final decision on this study and not the Department of Defense.

The letter also notes that a number of South Korean civilians have fallen victim to antipersonnel mines that have shifted from their original location in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and into low-lying farmlands due to weather conditions and soil erosion. It encourages the U.S. to support these mine victims and consider supporting mine clearance in a section of the DMZ as suggested by the Korea Peace Network of civil society groups.

The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines welcomes the significant recent U.S. funding announcements for the clearance of landmines and explosive remnants of war in Colombia, Lao PDR, and Vietnam. It calls on the U.S. to continue and increase its funding and technical support to mine clearance, stockpile destruction, and victim assistance efforts across the world.

The letter was issused on the 17th anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty's entry-into-force 17 years ago on March 1, 1999.

Read the full letter.