Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Press release - June 22, 2021

The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines - U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition (USCBL-USCMC) welcomed today a letter to President Biden encouraging him to change U.S. landmine policy. The letter (linked), led by long-time anti-landmine champions Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts was signed by Democrats and Republicans in both chambers of Congress. It concluded by saying putting the United States on the path to join the Mine Ban Treaty "is the right thing to do for our country, for the world, and for our men and women in uniform."

"Ending the use of landmines is a moral issue, not a partisan one," said Jeff Meer, Steering Committee Chair for USCBL-USCMC and U.S. Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion. “This bipartisan message from members of Congress is welcomed.  We continue to encourage President Biden to retire landmines and bring the United States into the Mine Ban Treaty. The majority of the world's countries and all our NATO allies have done this, recognizing that a weapon that routinely kills indiscriminately has no place in the arsenal of a modern and just military.”

Last year, the USCBL-USCMC issued a memo outlining policies the President should adopt. In that memorandum, the campaign highlighted changes made in January 2020 under the Trump administration that would allow for use of victim-activated antipersonnel landmines anywhere in the world, instead of restricted to the Korean peninsula. Today's Congressional letter calls for immediately reversing those Trump era policies.

On April 8, UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that: "Biden has been clear that he intends to roll back this policy.” We also urge him to do so immediately.

In a letter dated April 28, directors of arms control, humanitarian, human rights, religious, veteran and other groups, as well as former members of Congress, the former president of National Defense University, and former landmine ambassadors, further called on the President to "set the United States on a short and direct path to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty by declaring the United States’ intent to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty by 2023 as part of the new policy."

The United States has not used antipersonnel landmines since 1991, excluding the use of a single munition in 2002. All other NATO allies and a total of 164 countries worldwide have agreed to universally foreswear all antipersonnel mines under the Mine Ban Treaty.

U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines-U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition
The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines-U.S. Cluster Munition Coalition 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.