Human Rights Watch said Thursday that the United States should join the Mine Ban Treaty and participate in a landmark international meeting regarding the banning of antipersonnel mines.
The Second Review Conference of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, also known as the “Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World” is scheduled to begin in Cartagena on 30 November, and more than 100 governments are expected to attend.
The US has been invited, but has not yet indicated whether it will participate. A special event to promote participation in the meeting is being held at the United Nations in New York on October 23, Human Rights Watch reported.
In 1997 the Clinton administration aimed to join the treaty in 2006, but the Bush administration reversed course in 2004, announcing that it never intended to join. The Obama administration has not yet taken a position on the ban.
The Cartagena Summit represents an opportunity to get US policy on landmines back on the right track and reverse the damage of the Bush administration,” said Steve Goose, Arms Division director at Human Rights Watch. “The US has much to gain and nothing to lose by joining the treaty.”
Human Rights Watch reports that “the United States has not used antipersonnel mines since the first Gulf War, has not exported them since 1992, has not produced them since 1997, and is the biggest donor to mine-clearance programs around the world. But it still stockpiles more than 10.4 million antipersonnel mines for potential use in the future.”
They also noted that 156 nations are party to the treaty, and nearly all of the 37 that have not yet joined are in de facto compliance with most of the treaty’s provisions. Since the treaty entered into force on March 1, 1999, the use of antipersonnel mines has largely dried up, with Burma the only government to make significant use of the weapon in recent years.
With over 8,000 deaths between 1990 and August 2009, Colombia holds the record for highest number of deaths from land mines in the world. So far this year 100 military personnel have been killed and 409 injured by landmines.