US Should Ratify Ottawa Treaty

March 8, 2009

Anti-personal landmines were first invented as a low-cost security barrier. With their compact size, low cost and efficiency, they were spread across borders to protect countries during major conflicts worldwide.  However when conflicts end, mines have not been disarmed causing harm to individuals in these countries, often their own citizens, and preventing communities from rebuilding.  This situation led to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which culminated in the 1997 Ottawa Treaty.

Despite the destruction caused by these mines on post-conflict poor communities, some states have been slow to  remove these landmines, as they believed they still formed as essential tool in their national security arsenal.  As of February 2009, only 156 countries have ratified the treaty and superpowers like China, USA, India and Russia have yet accept this treaty. What are the reasons for these countries not accepting the treaty? What use are AP landmines today, other than causing harm to innocent civilians?

In the case of the US, President Obama has called for the withdrawal of US military presence from Iraq and a new national security agenda.  This new national security agenda should include a review of the US policy towards anti-personal landmines.   The US should sign the treaty, reinforcing its intent to withdrawal from foreign conflicts, like Iraq, where its presence harms more than benefits.   The US could implement the ban of landmines on the Korean peninsula, allowing the Koreans to solve their own problems.  After all, how do landmines located in Korea protect US territory from any kind of attack?   What is the real concern?  Who is really being protected?  What does the US gain by preserving landmines outside its national territory?

by Simran Savlani & Luis Benito Zenil

Reference:

– International Campaign to Ban Landmines, “latest campaign news”. Retrieved February the 23rd from: http://www.icbl.org/

– Global ban on landmines, “Convention on cluster munitions and mine ban treaty: mutually reinforcing for a safer world”, retrieved February 23rd from: http://www.icbl.org/news/oslo_icbl

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