For Immediate Release
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which shared the Nobel Peace Prize as a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, said today that the United States has made progress by committing not to produce additional anti-personnel mines, but criticized the government for falling short of signing the Mine Ban Treaty.
“The U.S. government’s announcement that it will stop producing landmines is a step in the right direction, but we remain concerned about anything less than a full commitment to sign the Mine Ban Treaty as soon as possible,” said Widney Brown, PHR’s director of programs. “The U.S. government has been missing a key opportunity to lead on a groundbreaking agreement that has achieved great success in preventing the deaths of civilians, including many children.”
The announcement came during a conference on the progress of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty in Maputo, Mozambique. The treaty bans the use, trade, production, and stockpiling of anti-personnel mines and requires signatories to participate in demining and victim assistance efforts. PHR played a critical role in highlighting the medical implications of land mine use, and the implementation of this treaty has saved many civilians from being maimed and killed. To date, 161 countries have signed the treaty.
PHR said the United States has been providing funds for expensive and hazardous demining programs in other countries, but has, until now, continued to produce mines. In areas that have been mined, erosion, flooding, earthquakes, and development projects have contributed to shifting the locations of mines, creating new risks. While the U.S. government has said it only manufactures smart landmines – which can be deactivated or will self-destruct within a specific period – these landmines are not exempt from the treaty.
The Obama administration announced in 2009 that it would review its policy on landmines, but the results of this review have never been made public.
PHR shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for medically documenting landmine injuries and serving as a leader in the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.