Civil Society Welcomes U.S. Participation at Mine Ban Treaty Conference
Geneva, Switzerland — The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines (USCBL) joins Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams, International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) campaigners and landmine survivors from nearly 40 countries in calling on governments to commit to eradicating antipersonnel landmines in years, not decades. The call comes at the opening of the Twelfth Meeting of States Parties (12MSP) to the Mine Ban Treaty, taking place from December 3-7 in Geneva. More than 100 governments are expected to participate—including the United States, which will participate as an observer.
The USCBL welcomes the participation of the U.S. delegation at the conference. In response to calls from civil society for the United States to join the Mine Ban Treaty, the Obama administration began a review of U.S. landmine policy in December 2009, but has yet to announce the conclusions of the review. The USCBL continues to urge the United States to move swiftly towards accession to the treaty and, during the upcoming conference, expects to hear news of the administration’s progress.
“We’re excited that the U.S. is here at the conference,” said Zach Hudson, coordinator of the USCBL. “We welcome their active engagement and are looking forward to hearing about the status of the landmine policy review following the recent U.S. presidential election. We look forward to a future when the United States has joined the treaty and destroyed the 10.4 million landmines currently held in its arsenal.”
Over the past three years, President Obama and his administration have received letters of support for U.S. accession to the Mine Ban Treaty from 68 Senators, nearly 100 leaders of prominent U.S. nongovernmental organizations, key NATO allies, U.S. military personnel, 16 Nobel Peace Prize recipients, landmines survivors and countless citizens from around the world.
The 12MSP begins 15 years to the day after the Mine Ban Treaty was opened for signature in Ottawa, where it was signed by 122 states. Since the signing of the Mine Ban Treaty vast tracts of land have been cleared. Nineteen states have declared their territories mine-free to date, and four more—the Republic of Congo, Denmark, Jordan, and Uganda—are expected to announce completion of mine clearance at this year’s meeting. More than 46 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed under the treaty. Most importantly, the annual casualty rate from landmines and explosive remnants of war has decreased dramatically since the treaty came into force.
Today 160 countries, or more than 80% of countries worldwide, have joined the treaty, with another—Poland—expected to announce its ratification during the meeting. With Poland, all of the European Union and all of NATO, with the exception of the United States, will be States Parties.
“This week, and for as long as it takes, we will continue to challenge the international community to finish the job we started some 20 years ago, to definitively end use of these weapons, and to fully address consequences of past use, and to do so as quickly as possible. The giant steps taken over the past 15 years prove that this is not only possible, but imminet," said ICBL Director, Katarzyna Derlicka.
About the United States Campaign to Ban Landmines
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. www.uscbl.org
Zach Hudson, Coordinator
United States Campaign to Ban Landmines
+1 (917) 860-1883
Mica Bevington, Director of Communications and Marketing
Handicap International US
+1 (240) 450-3531
Molly Feltner, Communications and Marketing Officer
Handicap International US
+1 (240) 450-3528