U.S. Landmine Policy
President Clinton, in his 1994 address to the United Nations General Assembly, called for the eventual elimination of anti-personnel landmines (APL). On September 23, 2014, the Obama Administration announced new policy changes that bring the United States closer to that goal. Specifically, the United States is aligning our APL policy outside the Korean Peninsula with the key requirements of the Ottawa Convention, the international treaty prohibiting the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of APL, which more than 160 countries have joined, including all of our NATO Allies. This means that United States will:
- not use APL outside the Korean Peninsula;
- not assist, encourage, or induce anyone outside the Korean Peninsula to engage in activity prohibited by the Ottawa Convention; and
- undertake to destroy APL stockpiles not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea.
This change to U.S. APL policy builds on the announcement that the U.S. delegation made in June at the Third Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention in Maputo, Mozambique, that the United States will not produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel munitions that are not compliant with the Ottawa Convention, including to replace such munitions as they expire in the coming years. It also follows previous steps the United States has taken to end the use of all non-detectable mines and all persistent mines, which can remain active for years after the end of a conflict.
The measures announced today represent a further step to advance the humanitarian aims of the Ottawa Convention and to bring U.S. practice in closer alignment with a global humanitarian movement that has had a demonstrated positive impact in reducing civilian casualties from APL.
Even as we take this further step, the unique circumstances on the Korean Peninsula and our commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea preclude us from changing our anti-personnel landmine policy there at this time. We will continue our diligent efforts to pursue material and operational solutions that would be compliant with and ultimately allow us to accede to the Ottawa Convention while ensuring our ability to meet our alliance commitments to the Republic of Korea. The security of the Republic of Korea will continue to be a paramount concern as we move forward with these efforts.
World Leader in Humanitarian Mine Action
The United States is the world’s single largest financial supporter of humanitarian mine action, which includes not only clearance of landmines, but also medical rehabilitation and vocational training for those injured by landmines and other explosive remnants of war. Since the United States Humanitarian Mine Action Program was established in 1993, the United States has provided over $2.3 billion in aid in over 90 countries for conventional weapons destruction programs. Through this assistance, the United States has:
- Helped 15 countries to become free from the humanitarian impact of landmines;
- Provided emergency assistance to support the removal or mitigation of conventional weapons including landmines and other unexploded ordnance in more than 18 countries; and
- Provided assistive devices and other rehabilitation services to over 250,000 people in 35 countries through the U.S. Agency for International Development-managed Leahy War Victims Fund.
This vital U.S. assistance has helped post-conflict countries consolidate peace and set the stage for reconstruction and development. Clearance efforts and victim assistance programs return land and infrastructure to productive use and assist in the rehabilitation and reintegration into society of survivors of mine and explosive remnants of war incidents.
Further information on U.S. humanitarian demining and conventional weapons destruction programs can be found in the State Department’s annual To Walk the Earth in Safety report.