The Obama administration says it has no plans to join a global treaty banning landmines as the American military believes it could not meet its security commitments without them.
The US State Department made the announcement despite agreeing to send a delegation to a review conference in Colombia to discuss the 10-year-old Mine Ban Treaty. Thomas Countryman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Political, Military Affairs at the US State Department said: “We were unable to sign the Ottawa convention when it was first signed by other countries in 1997 because there are specific limited and valid military circumstances in which landmines can be a legitimate tool.” The US argues that it abides by the provisions of the treaty. It hasn’t used anti-personnel mines since the 1991 Gulf War. But human rights campaigners say America is just a part of the problem. The Director of the Human Rights Watch arms division, Stephen Goose said: “China alone, we believe, holds more than 100 million stockpiled mines. Russia has about 20 million. The US has about 10 million. Pakistan, four to five million, India four million or so. Those five countries make up the vast majority of the mines that are still out there.” Landmines are known to have caused more than 5,000 casualties last year, a third of whom were children. A key theme of the conference in Colombia will focus on exactly how much is being done to help them cope with their injuries.