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The ongoing review of United States landmine policy should result in a decision to ban all types of antipersonnel landmines, Human Rights Watch said today. March 1, 2011, will mark 12 years since the international treaty banning antipersonnel mines became binding international law.
This is the opening statement from a Human Rights Watch press release.

More after the symbol formerly know as "Read more"

A little background on the treaty.

The Ottawa Treaty or the Mine Ban Treaty, formally the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, completely bans all anti-personnel landmines (AP-mines). As of April 2010[update], there were 156 States Parties to the treaty. Two states have signed but not yet ratified while thirty-seven states are non-signatories to the Convention, making a total of 39 states not party.
The United States is not one of the signatories.

In 1997 the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and and Jody Williams (ICBL coordinator) were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 1997, in two equal parts, to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and to the campaign's coordinator Jody Williams for their work for the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines.
There are at present probably over one hundred million anti-personnel mines scattered over large areas on several continents. Such mines maim and kill indiscriminately and are a major threat to the civilian populations and to the social and economic development of the many countries affected.
The ICBL and Jody Williams started a process which in the space of a few years changed a ban on anti-personnel mines from a vision to a feasible reality. The Convention which will be signed in Ottawa in December this year is to a considerable extent a result of their important work.
There are already over 1,000 organizations, large and small, affiliated to the ICBL, making up a network through which it has been possible to express and mediate a broad wave of popular commitment in an unprecedented way. With the governments of several small and medium-sized countries taking the issue up and taking steps to deal with it, this work has grown into a convincing example of an effective policy for peace.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to express the hope that the Ottawa process will win even wider support. As a model for similar processes in the future, it could prove of decisive importance to the international effort for disarmament and peace.

October 10, 1997

About The International Campaign to Ban Landmines
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is a global network in over 90 countries that works for a world free of antipersonnel landmines, where landmine survivors can lead fulfilling lives. The Campaign was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of its efforts to bring about the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Since then, we have been advocating for the words of the treaty to become a reality, demonstrating on a daily basis that civil society has the power to change the world.
International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) press release.
Groups Worldwide Urge the U.S. to Ban Landmines

Mine Ban Treaty Turns 12 Today
Geneva, 1 March 2011 - Civil society groups worldwide are calling on the United States to ban antipersonnel landmines immediately, said the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) today, as the Mine Ban Treaty turned twelve. Campaign members will meet today and throughout the month with U.S. representatives in dozens of countries to urge the U.S. to join the Mine Ban Treaty.

"It is absurd that the U.S. continues to cling to a weapon that is so horrific that only a country like Myanmar still uses it," said Sylvie Brigot, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. "If nearly all of the United States' closest military allies were able to remove antipersonnel mines from their arsenal without compromising their national security, we are confident the U.S. can as well."

The Obama Administration started a comprehensive review of its landmine policy in late 2009 to determine whether to join the Mine Ban Treaty. Officials have consulted with allies, States Parties to the treaty, international organizations, civil society including landmine survivors, and former military personnel. No date for completing the review has been made public yet. By joining the Mine Ban Treaty, the U.S. would help send a clear signal that all types of antipersonnel mines are unacceptable weapons, would strengthen international security, and would spur to action some of the other 38 states still outside the treaty.

The U.S. already follows the core obligations of the Mine Ban Treaty: it has not used antipersonnel landmines since 1991, has not exported any since 1992, and has not produced since 1997. It is also the world's largest individual donor to mine action and victim assistance programs. This should be complemented by a legal commitment to end the threat of use of antipersonnel mines.

In 2010, ICBL members undertook an array of actions calling for the policy review to result in a decision by the U.S. to join the Mine Ban Treaty:

    * In March 2010, 65 U.S.-based NGOs signed a letter to President Obama, welcoming the policy review and urging that it results in a decision to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty.
    * On 18 May 2010, 68 U.S. Senators wrote to President Obama, expressing strong support for the ban on antipersonnel mines.
    * In June 2010, landmine survivors from various regions of the world shared testimonies during a meeting with U.S. officials.
    * On 30 November 2010, sixteen Nobel Peace Prize laureates sent a letter to President Obama. Signatories included Mohamed El Baradei, Shirin Ebadi, Aung San Suu Kyi, His Holiness Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Elie Wiesel, and Jody Williams.

At the beginning of 2011, a Bush policy adopted in 2004 took effect, whereby the U.S. renounces the use of so-called "dumb" mines or "persistent" mines everywhere in the world, including on the Korean peninsula. The U.S. retains the right to use so-called "smart" mines equipped with a self-destruct or self-deactivation mechanism.

"So-called smart mines are by no means safe for civilians. While these mines are active, they cannot distinguish between a soldier and an innocent civilian. And their self-destruct mechanisms have an estimated failure rate of 1 to 10%. By retaining the right to use them, the U.S. stands completely at odds with the international norm that rejects landmine use," said Atle Karlsen, mine clearance expert at Norwegian People's Aid and a member of the Governance Board of the ICBL.

Adopted in 1997, the Mine Ban Treaty entered into force on 1 March 1999, just 15 months after it was negotiated - the shortest time ever for a multilateral treaty. The treaty comprehensively bans all antipersonnel mines, requires destruction of stockpiled mines within four years and destruction of mines already in the ground within 10 years, and urges extensive programs to assist the victims of landmines. The ICBL calls on all states to join the treaty. The Eleventh Meeting of the States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty will be held from 28 November - 2 December 2011 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

On a personal note, I wrote a diary last August on the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) entering into force. One of my friends, Lynn Bradach lost her son, Marine Corporal Travis Bradach-Nall in a de-mining operation. Land mines and cluster bombs are the bane of those living in active and former war zones. Their legacy is one of shattered limbs and lives. That the US has not signed either of these treaties is a stain on all of us.

How would you feel?

There is no reason for not ratifying the treaty.

Originally posted to Bend Over Here It Comes Again on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 05:40 AM PST.

Also republished by DKos Military Veterans.

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Comment Preferences

    •  AMEN Brother, Amen!! n/t (6+ / 0-)

      "I wrote, 'Dear Western governments. You have been supporting the regime that was oppressing us for 30 years. Please don't get involved now. We don't need you.' " - Wael Ghonim 13 Feb. 2011

      by jimstaro on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 05:52:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Obama BETTER sign this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BOHICA

      But even if he does, he doesn't deserve a whole lot of credit. I mean on a MORAL level, at least. That's cause, if in the end he does sign it, it'll only be after he's done all the "political" and "military usefulness" calculations. In other words, if public support was high enough, or if enough Pentagon officials wanted to keep landmines, the treaty would NOT be signed.

      So what should Obama do? Wrong question. The correct question is... Why didn't Obama do this on his first day in office?!

      (and before anyone says, well other presidents didn't do that... yeah I know, but I thought you guys said he was BETTER than other presidents)

      "Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media." -- Noam Chomsky

      by ratmach on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:36:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just to clarify... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BOHICA

        ... the "you guys" in my last sentence isn't referring to you, Bohica (or others in this diary, as far as I can tell).

        "Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media." -- Noam Chomsky

        by ratmach on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 09:40:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Jody Williams interview (5+ / 0-)

    Jody will be in Portland, Oregon 4-1-2011.

    Concordia University and Wholistic Peace Institute will host Nobel Peace Laureate Jody Williams for a free discussion at 7 p.m., April 14 in the the Student Events & Activities Center in the Hagen Center.

    PTSD, don't leave 'Nam without it.

    by BOHICA on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 06:02:15 AM PST

  •  Thanks for this, BOHICA (6+ / 0-)

    In a riff on your former sig line, nobody who's been around land mines, even those small little cuties we used to call "bouncing betties", wants to see them deployed, yet alone abandoned in place.
    And special thanks for the mention of cluster munitions as well. The dead. maimed, and disfigured children wherever they've been used are the testimony to their, for want of a word with strong enough moral condemnation, unacceptability.

    Baja Arizona Libre!

    by DaNang65 on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 06:35:23 AM PST

  •  If it's "binding international law," (0+ / 0-)

    then we don't need to sign on.  We're bound in any event.  To the extent we're not bound, it's unclear why we should bind ourselves unless the other countries w/ large militaries do, too.

    •  Its only binding for us (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      llbear, DaNang65

      If we sign it, just as you are not bound by a contract you didn't sign.

      One opinion.

      Custom Customary international law is defined as a general Practice of Law under article 38(1)(b). States follow such a practice out of a sense of legal obligation. Rules or principles must be accepted by the states as legally binding in order to be considered rules of international law. Thus, the mere fact that a custom is widely followed does not make it a rule of international law. States also must view it as obligatory to follow the custom, and they must not believe that they are free to depart from it whenever they choose, or to observe it only as a matter of courtesy or moral obligation. This requirement is referred to as opinio juris.

      From The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner For Human Rights.

      In addition to the International Bill of Rights and the core human rights treaties, there are many other universal instruments relating to human rights. A non-exhaustive selection is listed below. The legal status of these instruments varies: declarations, principles, guidelines, standard rules and recommendations have no binding legal effect, but such instruments have an undeniable moral force and provide practical guidance to States in their conduct; covenants, statutes, protocols and conventions are legally-binding for those States that ratify or accede to them. Information on the status of ratification of selected instruments is available here. Printer-friendly versions of these instruments may be downloaded from the CD-ROM Compilation of Universal Instruments accessible online here.

       

      PTSD, don't leave 'Nam without it.

      by BOHICA on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 07:27:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Irony: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BOHICA, llbear

    Those roadside our men and women keep getting maimed and dying from ARE landmines, they just won't call them that.

    "My case is alter'd, I must work for my living." Moll Cut-Purse, The Roaring Girl - 1612, England's First Actress

    by theRoaringGirl on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 07:28:53 AM PST

  •  It goes beyond land mines. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BOHICA, llbear, DaNang65, angry marmot

    Old-fashioned bury-it-and-it-lasts-forever landmines are obviously a problem. Given the failure rate of "smart" mines, they are also obviously a problem.

    And then there's unexploded ordnance, or UXO.

    A lot of such weapons have a non-zero rate of failure to go off when launched or dropped. Bombs, shells, and bomblets of all kinds... sometimes the fact that it doesn't go off is because the trigger is completely broken. It's a dud, and you can safely pick it up, throw it in a truck, and take it into the wilderness to destroy it. This kind of UXO is annoying, and might leak its toxic contents into local soil or groundwater, but it's otherwise innocuous.

    Sometimes the trigger still works, and just for some reason didn't trigger at the right time, in which case handling the weapon is a good way to get maimed or killed. This kind of UXO is extremely dangerous and often has to be either disarmed by bomb disposal experts or destroyed in place. Think of it as a landmine with an unpredictable temper.

    The thing is, there's no way to tell which is which. So if someone finds an unexploded shell or bomb the only thing to do is mark the spot and get someone to disarm or destroy the weapon immediately.

    (It's also a problem for the US military. Soldiers entering enemy positions that have been cleared by artillery fire can and have been wounded by unexploded weapons fired from their own artillery.)

    Land mines are just a good first step. They're just a symptom of the problem, though. The problem is war. It's toxic. Even in territory that's never fought over, you can have these kinds of problems - I went to a college that had to call the bomb squad every time they wanted to extend underground pipes or dig foundations for a new building, because it was sited on an old ammunition dump. When the Army closed it, anything that didn't fit their inventory was just left on the ground and then plowed under.

    "If we win, we win. If we lose, we die fighting, so it doesn't count. If we run for it, we don't lose either, 'cos we can come back for another go, see? If we leg it, we can fight again another day!"

    by Shaviv on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 09:53:27 AM PST

  •  When Was The Last Time That The US Military... (0+ / 0-)

    used landmines?  Are they currently using them in Afghanistan?

    •  Desert Storm (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      llbear, DaNang65

      Although we have over a million in Korea

      2009 HRW Letter to President Obama on the Mine Ban Treaty

      The US has kept 1.1 million non-self-destructing antipersonnel mines (M14 and M16) to use in future conflict in Korea. These mines have sometimes been portrayed as necessary to stop a sudden attack from the North; yet according to official US military sources, half of the mines are not stored in Korea, but in the continental US, and are of no use in the case of a sudden attack. Moreover, the 2004 policy review decided that, after 2010, the US would no longer use non-self-destructing mines in Korea. So, with respect to non-self-destructing antipersonnel mines, the defense of Korea is not a rationale for not signing the Mine Ban Treaty.

      ...

      The simple fact that the US did not use antipersonnel mines of any kind in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, or any other location for the past 18 years, during both high and low intensity conflict, shows that the weapon has little or no military value to US forces today.
       

      PTSD, don't leave 'Nam without it.

      by BOHICA on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 11:12:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks BOHICA. This is an issue... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BOHICA, DaNang65

    ...that ought to be on the front page, here and elsewhere.

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 11:04:45 PM PST

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