Obama Needs to Sign Anti-Landmine Treaty

logoAccording to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) every day some 10 people around the world lose their life or limb to a landmine or another explosive remnant of war, and that means every year some 4,000 people get hurt or killed. America has an especial role in such injuries/deaths with the Vietnam rates of 1683 casualties (630 killed, 1051 injured [all time]) and Cambodia (one of the worst landmine casualty rates in the world) suffering 8227 casualties (630 killed, 6638 injured [all time]).

But there is some good news in that on Friday at an international conference on the 15-year-old Mine Ban Treaty (sometimes called the Ottawa Convention) in Mozambique, in an effort to try to stop the use and production of anti-personnel mines, the American ambassador to Mozambique, Douglas M. Griffiths, speaking on behalf of an American observer delegation at the conference, announced that the United States would no longer produce or acquire antipersonnel land mines or replace old ones that expire, which will have the practical effect of reducing the estimated 10 million mines in the American stockpile.

Yet, according the ICBL, the agreement doesn’t go far enough for the U.S. does not agree to join the treaty. It will not destroy it’s current stockpile and reserves the right to use landmines anywhere in the world as it sees fit.

According to the ICBL, to date, 161 countries are States Parties to Mine Ban Treaty, i.e. over 80% of the world’s countries. But 36 countries have not yet joined the Treaty, and the biggest stockpiles of antipersonnel landmines are held by, China, Russia, the United States, India and Pakistan.

Now I, and this op-ed by the Editorial Board at the NYT, believe that the anti-personnel mine is an outdated “relic of the Cold War.” But it does not look like the treaty will be signed anytime soon and it is a shame for if the United States were to sign this treaty, it would put greater pressure on the other non-treaty signed, large stock-pile holding nations such as China, Russia, India, and Pakistan to sign it, too.

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