Washington, DC – Two years ago this week, the Trump administration revised government policy on anti-personnel landmines to allow the U.S. military to employ, develop, produce, and acquire these indiscriminate and immoral weapons. The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) condemned the decision then and now strongly urges President Joe Biden to reverse the policy.
Reversing that policy would fulfill Biden’s campaign promise and put the United States on course to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty by the end of his first term. The United States, China, India, Pakistan, and Russia have not signed the treaty.
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So far, 164 other countries—including all our NATO allies—have joined the treaty and renounced the use of landmines. Meanwhile, landmines continue to wreak havoc worldwide. In 2020 alone, anti-personnel landmines and other explosive remnants of war caused more than 7,000 casualties, the vast majority of them civilian.
As a Quaker organization and as a longtime member of the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines, FCNL believes U.S. landmine policy is in direct opposition to Friends’ vision of a world free of war and violence.
“Anti-personnel landmines are not only militarily unnecessary, but morally indefensible,” said Diana Ohlbaum, legislative director of foreign policy at FCNL. “For decades, FCNL has worked to ban the use of landmines because they do not differentiate between combatants and civilians. President Biden should honor his campaign promise to ban them and put us on track to join the Mine Ban Treaty.”
FCNL is encouraged by the considerable bipartisan support in Congress for taking these necessary steps. Last year, Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT) and Rep. Jim McGovern (MA-2) led 19 colleagues from both sides of the aisle in calling on the president to “finally [put] the United States on a definitive path to accede to the treaty.”
“President Biden has committed to reviewing the 2020 landmine policy of the Trump administration, but we have seen nothing yet,” said Ursala Knudsen-Latta, FCNL’s legislative manager for peacebuilding. “Two years of this immoral policy is two years too many. The White House must urgently roll it back and set the United States on a short and direct path to joining the Mine Ban Treaty.”
To learn more, please visit www.fcnl.org.