US urged to ban land mines

US urged to ban land mines

36Washington, April 2 (IANS) The Obama administration should conclude its years-long review of US policy on anti-personnel land mines with a decision to ban the weapon and join the international ban treaty, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

“It is nonsensical that the US has spent billions of dollars to clean up the mess caused by land mines but insists on the right to use them again in the future,” said Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch.

“Throwing money at the problem is not enough. A permanent solution is needed and the Mine Ban Treaty provides it.”

The US is not among the 161 nations that have signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, which comprehensively bans anti-personnel land mines and requires their clearance and assistance to victims.

The Clinton administration in 1997 set the objective of joining the treaty in 2006, but the Bush administration reversed course in 2004.

At a Mine Ban Treaty meeting in Geneva in December, the US announced that the policy review initiated in 2009 was “pressing forward to a conclusion” but gave no indication of when it would announce its decision.

Since the Mine Ban Treaty came into force March 1, 1999, more than 47 million stockpiled anti-personnel mines have been destroyed, 27 countries have completed mine clearance to become mine-free.

The annual number of casualties from land mines and explosive remnants of war has decreased dramatically.

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