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Landmines campaign update

Humanity & Inclusion has taken on the coordination of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines and the Campaign to Ban Cluster Munitions. A co-founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Humanity & Inclusion has not coordinated the U.S. campaign since the beginning of 2014.  Human Rights Watch managed the campaign over the previous six years. Previously, the campaign was guided by the Friends Committee on International Legislation.

The move comes at a critical point in the campaign’s work to see the United States join the Mine Ban Treaty. On January 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Defense announced a roll-back of an Obama-era landmine policy. The 2014 Obama-era policy had banned U.S. production and acquisition of antipersonnel landmines and prohibited their use outside of the Korean peninsula. The new Trump administration policy, however, allows the U.S. to develop, produce, and use antipersonnel landmines, as long as they are “non-persistent,” or able to self-destruct or self-deactivate.

The new policy is in stark contrast to U.S. actions around landmines. The U.S. has not used antipersonnel mines since 1991 (aside from one incident in 2002), and has not exported them since 1992. The last production of mines was in 1997, and millions of mines have been destroyed from the country’s stockpile. The U.S. does not maintain any minefields.

Yet, the U.S. is one of the few countries that has yet to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, sharing ranks with China, Egypt, India, Israel, Pakistan, and Russia. The treaty counts 164 States parties, making the ban on landmines a universal norm of international humanitarian law.

The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines immediately condemned the Trump administration’s decision and urged the White House and Department of Defense (DOD) to reconsider and take steps to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. You can read the US Campaign to Ban Landmine’s Joint Statement here.

Jeff Abramson, a veteran campaigner with the USCBL, International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the Landmine Monitor, is steering the campaign. Abramson is also director of the Forum on Arms Trade. In the near term, Abramson will help to organize campaign meetings, work with those developing legislative and other policy approaches, continue social media efforts, and also assist Humanity & Inclusion in the re-formation of a USCBL Steering Committee. 

“This dreadful policy decision is dangerous change for this administration that further withdraws the United States from the global norm," Abramson says. "While I am looking forward to working with USCBL colleagues to promote change, I wish it could be under circumstances where our country was moving in the right direction."

Humanity & Inclusion believes that no landmine is safe. The organization has decades of experience caring for survivors of landmine explosions, providing rehabilitation care and psychosocial support. Humanity & Inclusion deminers clear landmines, indiscriminate weapons that cannot differentiate between the footstep of a child or a solider. The organization is pleased to work closely with partner organizations through the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines to push U.S. authorities to reverse this deadly plan in the months ahead.

 “The safest landmine is the one that is never produced,” says Jeff Meer, U.S. Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion. “We’re grateful to an anonymous donor for supporting the campaign’s vital work maintaining pressure on the Administration to reverse this flawed policy.

“A special thank you to Human Rights Watch, in particular Mary Wareham and Stephen Goose, who have kept the USCBL campaign strong for the last few years,” Meer adds.