Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), made a statement on the Senate Floor on Thursday, Mar. 27, urging President Obama to enter the U.S. into the international treaty to ban anti-personnel landmines.
"One hundred sixty-one nations, including most of our allies and friends and every European member of NATO, have signed a treaty banning them," he said. "One hundred sixty-one nations had the courage to sign that treaty. Unfortunately, the United States is conspicuously not among them."
"...One could ask what difference it would make if the United States joins the Mine Ban Treaty," he added. "As I said, we have not used antipersonnel mines for 23 years. The United States has done more to support humanitarian demining than any other country in the world. We have not exported anti-personnel mines since the Leahy law was passed in 1992, and we have spent many tens of millions of dollars through the Leahy War Victims Fundto aid those injured by mines. If we are not causing the problem, why bother signing the treaty? Because antipersonnel mines continue to kill and cripple innocent people and because indiscriminate, victim-activated weapons have no place in the arsenal of a civilized country."
Handicap International is keen to ensure that pressure continues to be brought on States that have yet to sign the treaty, such as the U.S.
The U.S. position contrasts with its otherwise exemplary behavior. The U.S. is the leading funder of anti-mine action, having donated $2 billion since 1993 to reduce the threat posed by these weapons and other explosive remnants of war. The U.S. has not used anti-personnel mines since 1991, has not produced any since 1997, and ended exports of these weapons in 1992.
“The fact that the United States is not yet a State Party to the Ottawa Treaty doesn’t make any sense,” says Marion Libertucci, Handicap International’s advocacy manager. “They must send out a strong signal that this norm is essential and lead by example. We’re concerned that major powers, like China and Russia, are hiding behind this failure to act on the part of the United States in order not to sign the treaty.”
Thousands of Americans have taken action, signing their name to a Handicap International petition urging President Obama to join the Mine Ban Treaty. If you have not yet added your voice to this decades-old campaign, now is the time.