06.27.14

Reaction Of Senator Patrick Leahy To The White House Announcement Of Changes To U.S. Landmine Policy

[Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt., President Pro Tempore, and chairman of the State Department and Foreign Operations Subcommittee) has long been the leading U.S. official in the movement to ban anti-personnel landmines.  Leahy’s earlier law banning U.S. export of mines was a catalyst leading to the international treaty to ban the use and production of anti-personnel landmines (Ottawa Treaty).  Leahy has continued to meet with successive presidents (Clinton, Bush and Obama) to press for U.S. entry into the treaty, which by now has been joined by 161 nations.  In March, Leahy began regular speeches on the Senate Floor, ‘with an intended audience of one,’ to publicly urge the President to join the treaty.  His most recent speech was Tuesday, June 24.  A feature story in the Boston Globe on Sunday focused on Leahy’s decades of work on landmine issues .  Following are Leahy’s comments Friday on the White House’s policy changes on landmines:]

“This step is incremental, but it is significant, because it finally makes official policy what has been informal fact for a decade and a half.  By officially ending the U.S. production and purchase of new antipersonnel mines, and resurrecting President Clinton’s directive to the Pentagon to find alternative solutions, the White House once and for all has put the United States on a path to join the treaty.  An obvious next step is for the Pentagon to destroy its remaining stockpile of mines, which do not belong in the arsenal of civilized nations.”  


# # # # #

Contact: David Carle, 202-224-3693

david_carle@leahy.senate.gov

# # # # #

[For Reference – White House Announcement/Fact Sheet: ]

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release

June 27, 2014

 

Statement by NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on U.S. Anti-Personnel Landmine Policy

Today at a review conference in Maputo, Mozambique, the United States took the step of declaring it will not produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel landmines (APL) in the future, including to replace existing stockpiles as they expire.  Our delegation in Maputo made clear that we are diligently pursuing solutions that would be compliant with and ultimately allow the United States to accede to the Ottawa Convention—the treaty banning the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of APL.  They also noted we are conducting a high fidelity modeling and simulation effort to ascertain how to mitigate the risks associated with the loss of APL.  Other aspects of our landmine policy remain under consideration and we will share outcomes from that process as we are in a position to do so. 

The United States shares the humanitarian goals of the Ottawa Convention, and is the world’s single largest financial supporter of humanitarian mine action, providing more than $2.3 billion in aid since 1993 in more than 90 countries for conventional weapons destruction programs.  We will continue to support this important work, and remain committed to a continuing partnership with Ottawa States Parties and non-governmental organizations in addressing the humanitarian impact of APL.

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release

June 27, 2014

 

Fact Sheet: Changes to U.S. Anti-Personnel Landmine Policy

The United States announced today that it will not produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel landmines (APL) in the future, including to replace expiring stockpiles.  The announcement, delivered at the Third Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention in Maputo, Mozambique, underscores the U.S. commitment to the spirit and humanitarian aims of the Ottawa Convention, the treaty that prohibits the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of APL.  The U.S. delegation in Maputo further announced that the United States is diligently pursuing solutions that would be compliant with and that would ultimately allow the United States to accede to the Ottawa Convention. We are also conducting a high fidelity modeling and simulation effort to ascertain how to mitigate the risks associated with the loss of APL.  Other aspects of U.S. landmine policy remain under consideration, and we will share outcomes from this process as we are able to do so.  

This announcement marks another important step in our landmine policy. It follows previous steps to end the use of all non-detectable mines and all persistent mines, which can remain active for years after the end of a conflict.

The United States is also the world’s single largest financial supporter of humanitarian mine action, which includes not only clearance of landmines, but also medical rehabilitation and vocational training for those injured by landmines and other explosive remnants of war.  Since the United States Humanitarian Mine Action Program was established in 1993, the United States has provided over $2.3 billion in aid in over 90 countries for conventional weapons destruction programs. Through this assistance, the United States has:

  • Helped 15 countries to become free from the humanitarian impact of landmines;
  • Provided emergency assistance to support the removal or mitigation of conventional weapons including landmines and other unexploded ordnance in more than 18 countries; and
  • Provided assistive devices and other rehabilitation services to over 250,000 people in 35 countries through the U.S. Agency for International Development-managed Leahy War Victims Fund.

These vital U.S. assistance efforts help post-conflict countries consolidate peace and set the stage for reconstruction and development.  Clearance efforts and victim assistance programs return land and infrastructure to productive use and assist in the rehabilitation and reintegration into society of survivors of mine and explosive remnants of war incidents.

Further information on U.S. humanitarian demining and conventional weapons destruction programs can be found in the State Department’s annual To Walk the Earth in Safety report.

Press Contact

Press Contact
David Carle: 202-224-3693