News / Press Releases

June 21, 2022

Biden Administration takes step to protect civilians from landmines; reverses Trump Landmine Policy

Silver Spring, Maryland—The Biden Administration has once again barred the Department of Defense from developing, using, or transferring antipersonnel landmines, with the exception of on the Korean Peninsula, if necessary. Under the new policy, the U.S. will destroy all antipersonnel landmine stockpiles unrelated to Korea, and will not encourage any other State to use these weapons. This is a welcome change from a 2020 policy announced by the Trump Administration, which allowed landmines to be used around the world. President Biden had promised to reverse the 2020 policy on the campaign trail, but his administration’s review of the policy took 14 months to realize.  

“Civilians can breathe a little easier today, because the leader of one of the world’s largest militaries just promised to avoid future use of these weapons outside of the Korean peninsula,” says Jeff Meer, U.S. Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion. “We certainly welcome this step. But, organizations like ours won’t rest until the U.S. joins the Mine Ban Treaty.”  

The Trump Administration’s 2020 decision (which itself reversed President Obama’s 2014 landmine policy) shocked advocates both in the U.S. and internationally. The Trump policy effectively gave the U.S. the ability to resume the use and stockpiling of antipersonnel landmines. Landmines are motion-activated devices that cannot distinguish between the footstep of a child or that of a soldier. In fact, in 2020, mines killed or injured more than 7,000 people—80% of those casualties were civilians, half of whom were children. Most recently, the global community along with the United States has condemned the use of antipersonnel mines in the Ukraine war.


The U.S. landmine policy has always been a great paradox. While the U.S. was part of the Ottawa Process, which resulted in the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, no President has ever moved to join the Treaty. Administrations have claimed landmines are necessary for U.S. forces to successfully wage land-based wars. However, the U.S. has not used antipersonnel mines since 1991, has not exported them since 1992, has not produced them since 1997, and in the meantime has destroyed millions of stockpiled mines. The U.S. government heavily funds actions by organizations—including Humanity & Inclusion—to remove these weapons from areas once plagued by conflict, so that civilians can safely live, work and play without fear. 

“The latest policy shift has moved the U.S. closer to compliance with the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, yet the Administration still pauses at the finish line,” says Meer. “The fact that the U.S. has refrained from using or trading antipersonnel landmines for nearly 30 years, and is counted as the global community’s most generous funder of landmine clearance, but still won’t join the treaty, is an ironic and historical oddity. This great contradiction leaves thousands of lives at risk.” 

The U.S. is one of the few countries that has yet to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, joining with countries such as China, Egypt, India, Israel, Pakistan, and Russia. There are 164 States parties to the treaty, making the ban on landmines a near-universal norm of international humanitarian law.  

“For the last 30 years we have been collecting evidence that proves, time and again, how landmines harm civilians, and pose long-term recovery obstacles for affected communities,” says Alma Taslidžan Al-Osta, Humanity & Inclusion’s Disarmament and Protection of Civilians Advocacy Manager. “We often hear that the U.S. military is doing everything it can to protect civilians during and after armed conflict, yet this statement is inconsistent with American policy on antipersonnel landmines. It is time to change that.” 
“There is no place in a modern, moral military for these devices,” continues Al-Osta. “While we are engaging in discussions with different militaries how to advance and strengthen the protection of civilians, we are disappointed that the U.S. military would even consider using these weapons that are banned due to their indiscriminate effects.” 

“Every day, Humanity & Inclusion’s teams are exposed to landmines that continue to injure, maim, and terrorize civilians,” Meer adds. “Our experts see first-hand that landmines do not help win wars, and do not save lives. Rather, there is no good outcome when landmines are deployed.” 

Humanity & Inclusion’s work 

Humanity & Inclusion runs projects to protect civilians from landmines and other explosive conflict debris in dozens of countries. Teams work to: 

  • raise the visibility of landmine survivors and their communities, so that the world is reminded of the scourge of landmines. 


Humanity & Inclusion’s experts available for interview: 

  • Jeff Meer, U.S. Executive Director, Humanity & Inclusion 
  • Alma Taslidžan Al-Osta, Disarmament and Protection of Civilians Advocacy Manager  

Humanity & Inclusion’s publications on landmines and civilian harm: 

About Humanity & Inclusion 

Humanity & Inclusion is an independent, impartial aid organization. It has been working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster for 40 years. Working alongside people with disabilities and people living in situations of extreme vulnerability, our action and testimony focus on responding to their essential needs, improving their living conditions and promoting respect for their dignity and basic rights. Since founded in 1982, Humanity & Inclusion (formerly Handicap International) has set up development programs in more than 60 countries and intervenes in numerous emergency situations. There are eight national associations within the network (Germany, Belgium, Canada, United States, France, Luxembourg, UK and Switzerland), working tirelessly to mobilize resources, co-manage projects and increase the impact of the organization’s principles and actions. Humanity & Inclusion is one of six founding organizations of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), co-recipient of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize and winner of the 2011 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize. Humanity & Inclusion takes action and campaigns in places where “living in dignity” is no easy task. 

Press contact: Elizabeth Johnson Sellers | +1 (240) 450-3538 | [email protected]