The United States announced last Friday it intends to join the Mine Ban Treaty in the future and will not produce antipersonnel mines. Speaking at the Third Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty, US Ambassador to Mozambique, Douglas Griffiths, said the US is pursuing solutions that would allow the country to accede to the treaty.
The Ambassador also recommitted to cooperation with States Parties and NGOs in undertaking global mine action efforts.
“With this announcement, the US has changed its mine ban stance and has laid the foundation for accession to the treaty. The message to the international community is clear, the Mine Ban Treaty is the only solution to eliminate the suffering caused by landmines,” said International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) Head of Delegation, Steve Goose.
However the announcement by the US does not give a target day for accession and no final decision has been made on whether to join the treaty. The US is reserving the right to use its 10 million antipersonnel mines anywhere in the world until the mines expire. The ICBL calls on the US to commit to no use until it accedes and to begin destruction of one of its landmine stockpiles.
The announcement follows strong declarations by States Parties last week of renewed commitment to the treaty. Seventy-nine States Parties participated in the meeting and signed the Maputo Declaration with a target date of 2025 for completion of their treaty obligations including stockpile destruction, clearance of mined areas on their territory, and adequate assistance to landmine victims.
The ICBL has issued a Completion Challenge to States Parties, asking them to commit to complete all major treaty obligations within the next decade. “Inspired by Mozambique, states have recommitted this week to turning into reality the promise of the Mine Ban Treaty to eliminate the global threat of antipersonnel landmines. The Maputo Action Plan adopted provides a roadmap for what needs to happen during the next five years to achieve a world without landmines,” said ICBL-CMC Executive Director, Sylvie Brigot-Vilain.
The Maputo Declaration, including the target completion date of 2025, was agreed by Mine Ban Treaty countries following a week of clearly articulated commitments to achieve a mine-free world within the next decade. A 31-point work plan approved by states recognizes that there is much more to do and strongly asserts that completion in a decade can be done through states working harder and better.
The participation of 12 states not parties to the treaty, including China, Libya and the United States, at the Third Review Conference demonstrated the strength of the global norm banning landmines.
Unofficially, China has indicated that it has been steadily destroying what has been considered the largest stockpile of the weapon globally. Landmine Monitor previously estimated the number of China’s stockpiles at some 110 million mines (based on Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons reporting from the 1980s). Exact stockpile figures were not provided by Chinese Delegates, however the number was said to be less than five million. If confirmed, this would represent a massive reduction in the number of estimated landmine stockpiles globally.