Obama Refuses to Sign Landmine Treaty

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Although the United States has deemphasized the importance of land mines in American combat operations, the Obama administration is refusing to reverse a Bush-era policy and sign an international agreement banning such weapons. The Mine Ban Treaty, which went into effect in 1999, bans the use, stockpiling, production or transfer of antipersonnel mines. It has been endorsed by 156 countries, but not by major military powers like the U.S., China, India, Pakistan and Russia.

The U.S. has not used antipersonnel mines since the Gulf War in 1991, and it stopped producing them in 1997. Yet the State Department on Tuesday ruled out the possibility for now of the U.S. signing the treaty, claiming the American military could not meet its security commitments around the world without the weapons.
Human rights organizations were upset at the news from the State Department. “President Obama’s decision to cling to anti-personnel mines keeps the U.S. on the wrong side of history and the wrong side of humanity,” said Steve Goose, director of Human Rights Watch’s Arms Division. “This decision lacks vision, compassion, and basic common sense, and contradicts the Obama administration’s professed emphasis on multilateralism, disarmament, and humanitarian affairs.”
Apparently stung by criticism of its decision, the State Department, the next day, insisted that it is still reviewing U.S. landmine policy.
A report from the International Campaign to Ban Landmines found that mines killed more than 1,200 people and wounded another 3,800 last year throughout the world.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Obama Administration Will Not Sign Land Mine Ban (by Desmond Butler, Associated Press)
State Department Backpedals on Landmine Treaty (by Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service)
Mine Ban Treaty Text (United Nations)


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