Washington is once again turning its back on landmines

Washington turns its back on landmines again


Contrary to Donald Trump's decisions, the US administration announced on Tuesday that it was renouncing the use or production of antipersonnel mines, specifying that this commitment did not apply on the Korean peninsula.< /strong> 

“The world is once again witnessing the devastating effect landmines can have in the context of Russia’s brutal and unprovoked war against Ukraine” Adrienne Watson, spokesperson for the National Security Council, a body attached to the presidency, commented in a statement on Tuesday.

Russian forces in Ukraine “use explosive ordnance, including landmines, irresponsibly,” which “greatly affects civilians and damages strategic civilian infrastructure,” said Stanley Brown, a senior State Department official. during a press conference.

Adrienne Watson clarified that Washington's objective, “eventually”, was to join the Ottawa convention of 1997.

This treaty, which prohibits anti-personnel mines, has been ratified by more than 160 countries, including all NATO members except the United States.

Russia, China and the India are not signatories either.

The U.S. military, however, has not used antipersonnel mines in a “significant” way since the Gulf War in 1991, Stanley Brown said.

Pending eventual ratification, the U.S. 'align with the main commitments of the Ottawa Convention, by renouncing to use, develop, produce, sell or encourage the use of mines.

The text also calls for the destruction of mines that countries have in their possession.

But none of those U.S. promises apply on the Korean peninsula.

Washington warns that as it stands, joining the Ottawa convention is not consistent with commitments made by states United to defend South Korea.

The NGO Handicap International hailed, on Twitter, “excellent news” from the Biden administration, but called on the United States to join the great treaty of 1997: “anti-personnel mines should be eradicated once and for all”.

3 million

Stanley Brown said the United States currently has some 3 million mines in stock, but did not specify how many would be destroyed, or at least to the contrary retained in the name of the commitments made to South Korea.

The Biden administration's announcement returns to the guidelines decided by Barack Obama, but which Donald Trump had reconsidered, to the chagrin of associations defense of human rights.

The former Republican president had indeed lifted in 2020 the restrictions weighing on the production and use by the United States of these devastating weapons for the civilian population.

Anti-personnel mines, “explosive remnants of war” and “improvised mines” killed an average of 19 people every day in 2020, according to the latest tally from Landmine Monitor.

The number of victims in 2020 jumped by 21%, due to the slowdown in demining efforts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to this organization.

The United States ensures that it is doing its part in this difficult work of mine destruction, recalling that it has invested more $4.2 billion in about 100 countries since 1993 through conventional weapons destruction programs.

“We will continue this important work,” Adrienne Watson said, calling Tuesday’s announcements a “a new stage in the approach which re-establishes the leading role of the States United in the world.”