The US administration has rejected a global treaty, supported by more than 150 countries, banning the use of landmines.

The state department explained the decision on Tuesday, saying a policy review had found the US could not meet its "national defence needs" without landmines.

"This administration undertook a policy review and we decided that our landmine policy remains in effect," Ian Kelly, the state department spokesman, said.

"We determined that we would not be able to meet our national defence needs nor our security commitments to our friends and allies if we signed this convention," he said.

The US decision comes just days before a review conference on the 10-year-old Mine Ban Treaty, credited with reducing landmine casualties around the world, is due to get under way in Cartegena, Colombia.

The treaty plans to end the production, use, stockpiling and trade in landmines.

Besides the US, countries holding out on the agreement include China, India, Pakistan, Myanmar and Russia.

‘Lost opportunity’

Patrick Leahy, a US senator and a leading advocate for the treaty, called the decision "a default of US leadership" and criticised the state department’s policy review as "cursory and half-hearted".

"It is a lost opportunity for the United States to show leadership instead of joining with China and Russia and impeding progress," Leahy said in a statement.

Landmines are known to have caused 5,197 casualties last year, a third of them children, according to the Nobel prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

Kelly said the US would still attend the conference next Sunday, which is expected to draw more than 1,000 delegates from more than 100 countries, including ministers and heads of state.

"As a global provider of security, we have an interest in the discussions there," he said.

"But we will be there as an observer, obviously, because we haven’t signed the convention, nor do we plan to sign the convention."

US observers

Anti-landmine campaigners welcomed the development as it will be the first time the US will send observers to a gathering of states that have accepted the treaty.

"The very fact that they are showing up we take as a positive sign of movement on this issue within the [Barack] Obama administration," Steve Goose, director of the arms division of Human Rights Watch, said, referring to the US president.

"We hope they’re not coming empty-handed."

To some extent the US already abides by the provisions of the treaty.

Goose noted that America has not used anti-personnel mines since the 1991 Gulf War, has not exported any since 1992 and has not produced them since 1997.


Share this article:

DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS. In accordance with title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. TMS has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is TMS endorsed or sponsored by the originator. “GO TO ORIGINAL” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “GO TO ORIGINAL” links. This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Comments are closed.