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At a school in Ukraine, four-year olds learn not to touch any of the colorful debris in their backyards. In a rural community in Zimbabwe, farmers and cattle risk their lives going out to graze. Anti-personnel landmines (APLs) and other remnants of war continue to kill, maim, and terrorize individuals and communities around the world, even decades after wars end. 

Recognizing today as International Day for Mine Awareness means recognizing the outsized impacts of these weapons on civilians, particularly children. In 2023, children were over 49% of all civilian casualties from APLs. 

In late March, I participated in a seminar hosted by Mines Action Canada, a co-founder of the International Network on Explosive Weapons, on the impact of youth in the global disarmament movement. Participants across humanitarian disciplines from the U.S. and Canada discussed the role of our countries in ending the use of landmines globally. 

FCNL's Lauren Evans and other attendees of the Mines Action Canada disarmament seminar speak virtually to Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP.
FCNL’s Lauren Evans and other attendees of the Mines Action Canada disarmament seminar spoke virtually to Elizabeth May, a Member of Parliament and leader of the Green Party of Canada.

Despite being one of the first governments to call for a comprehensive ban on these weapons, the U.S. has still not signed on to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty that bans the development, use, and transfer of APLs.  

As violent conflicts flare up around the world, we cannot afford for the international norms against the use of landmines to shift. 

Minefields are no longer carefully mapped or marked. APLs are often scattered by aircraft over unmarked terrain, creating further difficulty for civilians and aid workers. Even in areas where peace has prevailed for years, climate change or new development brings people into contact with these deadly, often diminutive weapons. 

It’s past time for the U.S. to do its part to end the use of landmines everywhere.

In mid-2022, President Joe Biden announced a near-complete ban on APL use by the United States. The move fulfilled his campaign promise to reverse the Trump administration’s APL policy, which allowed the Department of Defense to develop and acquire landmines and use them anywhere in the world. 

Biden’s updated policy requires the U.S. to comply with key aspects of the Mine Ban Treaty, except for on the Korean peninsula. But with less than a year left in his term, there has been no sign of meaningful implementation of these policies. 

The U.S. is the world’s largest financial supporter of demining efforts and crucially, all other NATO members have signed the Mine Ban Treaty. With the marking of another Mine Awareness Day, it’s past time for the U.S. do its part to end the use of landmines everywhere. 

I am honored to have participated in Mine Action Canada’s seminar for youth campaigners working on issues of disarmament, where we sharpened our skills and strengthened our network and vision for a mine-free world.

Today, I am proud to call on the United States to ratify the Mine Ban Treaty and to condemn all use of APLs and other indiscriminate weapons. The lives and safety of so many around the world depend on it.

Lauren Evans

Lauren Evans

Program Assistant for Peacebuilding (2023-2024)

Lauren Evans is FCNL’s 2023-2024 program assistant for Peacebuilding, assisting the team in advocating for sustainable and nonviolent U.S. foreign policy.