A message from Jeff Meer, U.S. Executive Director of Humanity & Inclusion:
President-elect Joe Biden has an opportunity to send a clear message to civilians caught in conflict that America cares about their fate.
The United States has long been out of step with its allies and the broader global consensus to ban landmines and cluster munitions. The Biden Administration can reset U.S. policy and finally join the Mine Ban Treaty and Convention on Cluster Munitions. Further, the Administration should fully support the diplomatic process towards an international agreement against bombing in populated areas.
Cluster munitions have recently been used in the Azerbaijan-Armenia war. Landmines still cause around 6,000 casualties annually. These two indiscriminate weapons remain a clear danger to civilians. 123 States have joined the Oslo Convention that bans cluster munitions, and 164 States are parties to the Ottawa treaty banning anti-personnel landmines. Meanwhile, the use of heavy explosive weapons in urban areas has become common in modern conflict, with civilians making up 90% of the victims.
The Biden Administration should quickly recommit to its campaign pledge to limit using antipersonnel landmines except in Korea, announce an intention to eventually stop using or transferring landmines, forswear use of cluster munitions, and commit to the diplomatic process that will lead to an international agreement against heavy bombing in populated areas. We hope the administration will eventually ratify the Ottawa Treaty, completely banning the use of anti-personnel landmines.
Image: A man conducts mine clearance in Lebanon in 2018 as part of a project funded by the United States Arms Removal and Reduction Office and the U.S. Department of State.