Obama Refuses To Sign Landmine Treaty

The Obama Administration announced it does not intend to sign an international treaty banning land mines saying, “we determined that we wouldn’t be able to meet our national defense needs, nor our security commitments to our friends and allies if we signed this convention.” The Mine Ban Treaty, which went into effect in 1999, bans the use, stockpiling, production or transfer of antipersonnel mines. It has been endorsed by 156 countries, but not by major military powers like the U.S., China, India, Pakistan and Russia. The 1997 Ottawa Treaty, also known as the Land Mine Treaty, was signed by 133 countries around the world. Much of Africa, South and Central America, and Europe are among the signatories. The treaty is more limited than its name implies, as it only prohibits anti-personnel mines.

Article 4  Destruction of stockpiled anti-personnel mines

Except as provided for in Article 3, each State Party undertakes to destroy or ensure the destruction of all stockpiled anti-personnel mines it owns or possesses, or that are under its jurisdiction or control, as soon as possible but not later than four ye ars after the entry into force of this Convention for that State Party.

Article 5 Destruction of anti-personnel mines in mined areas

1. Each State Party undertakes to destroy or ensure the destruction of all anti-personnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control, as soon as possible but not later than ten years after the entry into force of this Convention for that State Party.

2. Each State Party shall make every effort to identify all areas under its jurisdiction or control in which anti-personnel mines are known or suspected to be emplaced and shall ensure as soon as possible that all anti-personnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control are perimeter-marked, monitored and protected by fencing or other means, to ensure the effective exclusion of civilians, until all anti-personnel mines contained therein have been destroyed. The marking shall at least be to the standards set out in the Protocol on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices, as amended on 3 May 1996, annexed to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects.

3. If a State Party believes that it will be unable to destroy or ensure the destruction of all anti-personnel mines referred to in paragraph 1 within that time period, it may submit a request to a Meeting of the States Parties or a Review Conference for an extension of the deadline for completing the destruction of such anti-personnel mines, for a period of up to ten years.

4. Each request shall contain:
a) The duration of the proposed extension;
b) A detailed explanation of the reasons for the proposed extension, including:
(i) The preparation and status of work conducted under national demining programs;
(ii) The financial and technical means available to the State Party for the destruction of all the anti-personnel mines; and
(iii) Circumstances which impede the ability of the State Party to destroy all the anti-personnel mines in mined areas;
c) The humanitarian, social, economic, and environmental implications of the extension; and
d) Any other information relevant to the request for the proposed extension.

5. The Meeting of the States Parties or the Review Conference shall, taking into consideration the factors contained in paragraph 4, assess the request and decide by a majority of votes of States Parties present and voting whether to grant the request for an extension period.

6. Such an extension may be renewed upon the submission of a new request in accordance with paragraphs 3, 4 and 5 of this Article. In requesting a further extension period a State Party shall submit relevant additional information on what has been undertaken in the previous extension period pursuant to this Article.

Those that can remember, Princess Diana focused her attention on the worldwide menace of land mines.

Last year, landmines and other similar devices killed or injured more than 5,000 people, over 60% of whom were civilians and 28% children. Anti-tank mines, remote control mines, and “anti-handling devices” (booby traps) are not covered by the treaty. The international campaign to ban land mines is in response to their enormous toll on civilian populations, particularly after a conflict is over. While the US has not used landmines since 1991, it has stockpiles of some 10m antipersonnel mines and 7.5m anti-vehicular mines, and has used cluster bombs, which leave behind explosive “duds” that act as de facto mines, in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

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