US bans use of anti-personnel landmines everywhere – except the Korean peninsula
- The announcement comes after years of criticism by human rights groups that the US had refused to adopt an international treaty banning the deadly devices
- An official said the US has a stockpile of about 3 million landmines and will work to destroy any not required under ‘treaty obligations’ to protect South Korea
The announcement on Tuesday comes after years of criticism by human rights groups that the US refused to adopt an international treaty banning the deadly devices.
According to a White House statement, the US is joining the “vast majority of countries around the world” in limiting the use of the devices, which it said have a “disproportionate impact on civilians, including children, long after fighting has stopped”.
The US has a stockpile of about 3 million landmines and will work to destroy those not required under “treaty obligations” to protect South Korea, Stanley Brown, deputy assistant secretary of state, told reporters on a conference call.
America won’t develop, produce or acquire anti-personnel mines and won’t export or transfer them unless in connection with detection, removal or destruction, according to the new policy.
“The US policy announcement is good, but not good enough,” Steve Goose, arms director at Human Rights Watch, said in an emailed statement.
“The US needs to accept that the international ban on landmines applies in all circumstances, without geographic exception” to “strengthen the norm against those weapons and prevent them from being used in the future”.
The US has provided more than US$4.2 billion in aid to more than 100 countries to destroy anti-personnel landmines and other conventional weapons, according to the White House, and has also provided prosthetic limbs, other devices and rehabilitation services to more than 250,000 people in 35 countries through a fund managed by the US Agency for International Development.