Wednesday, November 25, 2009


The Obama administration drew the ire of human rights groups following an announcement Tuesday by State Department spokesman Ian Kelly concerning the U.S policy of not signing the Ottowa Convention banning the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of antipersonnel mines. Kelly indicated President Obama intends to maintain the Bush administration's stance of refusing to sign the agreement. 5,200 deaths are attributed to uncleared mines in eighty-four countries last year by The International Campaign to Ban Landmines. The 1997 agreement resulted in the destruction of seventy-seven national stockpiles and 80 million weapons. Kelly cited a previously undisclosed government review which indicated signing the treaty would harm U.S interests. The U.S's participation in the Cartagena, Colombia conference reviewing the treaty next week will be limited to an observer role, according to Kelly's initial comments. The State Department, however, quickly backtracked. A subsequent statement by Kelly, who fumbled reporters' questions on the treaty, claimed the review was only partially complete.

Whatever the administration's actual feelings on the topic are, it is important for the U.S, which holds 10 million mines, to move ahead with signing and implementing the treaty. Last year 5,200 people died, according to the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines, from uncleared weapons. More than 200,000 kilometers in over eight nations contain mines. Though the U.S has not used anti-personal mines since the First Gulf War it has historically insisted on sharing the position rouge states such as Libya, North Korea, Iran, Somalia, and Burma in refusing to joining the 156 nations already party to the agreement.

Momentum for the ban began in 1992 with the formation of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. in 1997 the group and its spokeswoman jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize. That same year 122 nations became signatories to the Ottawa Convention, pledging never to use, acquire, stockpile, or transfer anti-personal mines, to destroy their national stockpiles within six years, to clear all mines in their territory in ten, and to provide care and education to populations living in affected areas.

1 comment:

Don Emmerich Jr. said...

Yeah, it's difficult to believe that the Obama group won't sign the treaty. I wonder what their reasoning--both stated and unstated--is.