ALERT – Trump administration decides to resume the use of anti-personnel mines | February 3, 2020

contaminated area

On January 31, the US issued an official statement announcing a change in US landmine policy. HI, along other organisations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), is outraged by this decision to revive the use of mines.  A historic step backwards in US mine policy The previous 2014 policy allowed for possible use […]

On January 31, the US issued an official statement announcing a change in US landmine policy. HI, along other organisations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), is outraged by this decision to revive the use of mines.

 A historic step backwards in US mine policy

The previous 2014 policy allowed for possible use of landmines only in the Korean peninsula, along the commitments of no further use or production, towards the ultimate goal of joining the Mine Ban Treaty.  Although not a signatory to the Mine Ban Treaty, the United States complied in practice with its obligations under the Treaty.

The new policy discards these previous commitments and allows for the use of:

advanced, non-persistent landmines” that “will be designed and constructed to self-destruct in 30 days or less after emplacement and will possess a back-up self-deactivation feature.

 As mentioned by Anne Héry, Director of Advocacy and Institutional Relations at HI (see the interview on TV5 Monde on 1st February 2020):

The only smart landmine is the one that has not been created.

Smart weapons do not exist, every weapon has a failure rate. The world has rejected landmines because they are indiscriminate and disproportionately harm civilians. The idea that so-called “advanced” landmines would reduce harm to civilians is a myth. Even if the landmines were able to destroy themselves within a relatively short period of time, they are still deliberately and indiscriminately endangering civilians, in violation of international humanitarian law. This is unacceptable.

A challenge to international standards for the protection of civilians

The Ottawa Treaty which bans anti-personnel mines has been a tremendous success for the protection of civilians in armed conflict, now signed by 164 countries. Since its entry into force, the annual number of mine victims has decreased significantly, from nearly 30,000 in the 1990s to over 6,500 in 2018 (including mines, booby-traps and explosive remnants of war). Landmines are no longer produced and marketed worldwide.

However, the danger to civilians is still very much present: in 2018, 332 persons were victims of manufactured mines, i.e. mines manufactured by arms companies. And civilians bear the brunt of this violence (they represent 71% of victims of landmines in 2018).

The US decision to revive the use of mines challenges the international consensus “towards a mine free world”, reaffirmed by State Parties at the Fourth Review Conference on the Mine Ban Treaty in November 2019. This decision risks increasing the extent of contaminated areas worldwide, and undermines the tremendous progress made by humanitarian demining since the implementation of the treaty in 1999.

HI calls all States member of the Mine Ban Treaty to unanimously condemn the new US policy and call for a reverse of decision of Trump’s administration.


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