A deminer outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in November 2011.

© 2011 Human Rights Watch

(Washington, DC) – President Barack Obama should send the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty to the Senate for its action on United States accession before he leaves office, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to the president from the US Campaign to Ban Landmines. Human Rights Watch heads the coalition.

Under the Obama administration, the US has banned production and acquisition of antipersonnel landmines, as well as their use outside of the Korean Peninsula, and also committed not to assist, encourage, or induce other nations to use, stockpile, produce, or transfer antipersonnel mines. But the coalition expressed concern that the Pentagon will use a study into landmine alternatives on the Korean Peninsula as a way to justify the continuation of its exception to the US ban on landmine use.

“By moving toward joining the international ban on antipersonnel mines, the United States can make an important contribution to the rapidly emerging international norm against these indiscriminate weapons,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch. “Landmines have claimed many lives and limbs and should never be used under any circumstances.”

A total of 162 countries are party to the Mine Ban Treaty, which entered into force 17 years ago, on March 1, 1999. The US Campaign to Ban Landmines is the US affiliate of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, 1997 Nobel Peace Laureate together with Jody Williams.