US not ready to commit to landmine ban treaty

The United States is still not ready to commit to an international treaty banning landmines, which has been signed by more than 160 countries, a US official said on Monday.

Parties to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention are being urged at a conference in Mozambique to commit to ensuring no armed forces anywhere on Earth use anti-personnel mines by 2025. But the US, Russia and China, as well as nuclear powers India and Pakistan, are yet to sign the mine ban treaty aimed at eliminating the weapons, which cause huge civilian casualties even years after wars have ended. 

In 2009, Washington said it was reviewing its position on landmines but has failed to sign the treaty despite pressure from campaign groups. Asked whether the US would announce a policy change at the Maputo summit, a State Department conference observer told Agence France-Presse (AFP): “No, the review process is ongoing.” 

The anti-landmine lobby says there is still a long way to go in ridding the world of the weapons. “Now it’s time to finish the job and to do it within 10 years,” the International Campaign to Ban Landmines said in a statement. 

According to global watchdog the Landmine Monitor the number of people killed or maimed by landmines fell to less than 4 000 in 2012 – the lowest figure since it began documenting casualties. 

“The trade in anti-personnel mines has reduced to almost zero because the stigma is so strong against them,” Nicole Hogg, legal adviser for the International Committee of the Red Cross, told AFP. “If they are being used it is either through illicit trade or where stocks have turned up or weapons are floating around,” she added. 

Since Mozambique hosted its first landmine conference in 1999, the number of state parties to the mine ban convention has more than trebled from 45 to 161. – AFP

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