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U.S. Also Bears Responsibility, Landmines Crisis

U.S. Also Bears Responsibility, Landmines Crisis

Human Rights Watch

Website http://www.hrw.org


(Washington, March 5, 2001) At the outset of "Ban Landmines Week" in
Washington, D.C., Human Rights Watch said that nearly eighty percent of
the Pentagon's $25 million budget for humanitarian demining is used for
travel costs and other logistical aspects of moving personnel and
equipment around the world.

The United States spends more money on humanitarian mine programs than
any other country, and Pentagon officials often insist that U.S. mines
cause relatively little damage. But Human Rights Watch released fresh
research showing that U.S.-manufactured antipersonnel mines have been
used by government or rebel forces in at least twenty-eight countries or
regions, causing numerous civilian casualties.

"The U.S. bears a special responsibility for the landmines crisis," said
Stephen Goose, program director of the Arms Division of Human Rights
Watch. "Washington is one of the largest producers and exporters of
mines in the past, and one of the largest stockpilers today. President
Bush should make joining the Mine Ban Treaty a high priority so that the
U.S. can fully wield its influence and power to achieve a truly global
ban on antipersonnel mines."

The week of March 5, 2001 has been declared "Ban Landmines Week" by the
mayor of Washington, D.C. Nearly 200 members of the Nobel Peace
Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), from about
ninety countries, and another 250 campaigners from forty-five U.S.
states will participate in a series of meetings and events in Washington
throughout the week. Human Rights Watch is a co-founder of the ICBL.

Human Rights Watch issued a Fact Sheet containing new information about
use of U.S.-made antipersonnel mines around the world, U.S. mine
exports, and U.S. spending on mine clearance and mine victim assistance
programs.

The United States is not among the 139 countries that have signed the
Mine Ban Treaty, which prohibits all use, production, trade, and
stockpiling of antipersonnel mines. Current policy calls for the U.S. to
join the treaty in 2006 if the Pentagon has found alternatives to
antipersonnel mines. The Bush Administration has yet to make any
statement on antipersonnel mines.

Human Rights Watch research shows that in the next fiscal year (FY
2002), funding for the Pentagon's search for alternatives to landmines
will surpass funding for humanitarian mine programs.

The U.S. exported over 5.6 million antipersonnel mines to at least
thirty-eight countries between 1969 and 1992. The U.S. still has the
third largest stockpile of antipersonnel mines in the world, more than
11 million, including stocks in twelve foreign countries, five of which
have signed the Mine Ban Treaty.

The U.S. ranks eleventh among major donor countries when mine action
funding is considered on a per capita basis and thirteenth when that
funding is taken as a percentage of GDP.

Human Rights Watch urges that the role of mines should be part of the
review of the U.S. military structure and weapons ordered in February
2001 by the Bush Administration. Many military experts have argued that
antipersonnel mines have little to no utility in the war fighting
principles currently being developed and adopted by the U.S. military
for the twenty-first century.

Human Rights Watch calls on President Bush to submit the Mine Ban Treaty
to the Senate for its advice and consent for accession, and through
executive actions begin immediate implementation of the treaty's
provisions. Short of joining the treaty, there are other important steps
in the right direction that President Bush could take:

· Declare a ban on the production of antipersonnel mines.
· Immediately commit the United States to a policy of no use of
antipersonnel mines in joint operations (NATO and otherwise) with
states that have signed the Mine Ban Treaty. Similarly, commit the
United States to a policy of no transiting of antipersonnel mines
across the territory, air space, or waters of Mine Ban Treaty signatory
states.
· Instruct the Department of Defense to immediately withdraw all
stockpiles of antipersonnel mines from countries that have signed the
Mine Ban Treaty.
· Take steps necessary to insure that any systems resulting from the
Pentagon's landmine alternative programs are compliant with the Mine Ban
Treaty.
· Remove from consideration the battlefield override feature of the dumb
mine replacement program.
· Eliminate the RADAM program.


For more information, please see:

The United States and Antipersonnel Mines-2001 (Human Rights Watch Fact
Sheet, March 2001) at http://www.hrw.org/press/2001/03/lmfacts.htm

Clinton's Landmine Legacy (HRW Report, June 2000) at
http://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/uslm/

Landmine Monitor Report 2000: Toward a Mine-Free World (HRW Report, June
2000) at http://www.hrw.org/reports/2000/landmines/


ENDS

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