U.S. Is a World Leader in Humanitarian Mine Action

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
November 30, 2009
Deminer Searches for Mines in Bagram, Afghanistan

The United States is sending an interagency delegation of humanitarian mine action experts to observe the Second Review Conference of the Ottawa Convention in Cartagena, Colombia, this week. We congratulate Colombia for hosting this conference and are proud of our partnership with Colombia and nearly 50 other countries where we work to safely clear landmines and other explosive remnants of war, setting the stage for post-conflict recovery and redevelopment.

Although the United States is not a State Party to this Convention, we are the world leader in humanitarian mine action. We are the world’s single largest financial contributor to humanitarian mine action, having provided more than $1.5 billion since 1993 to mitigate the threat from landmines and explosive remnants of war, from Afghanistan to Angola, Mozambique to Sri Lanka. U.S. funding helps affected nations and more than 60 partner organizations with land surveys and safe clearance of mines and explosive remnants of war; mine risk education; survivors’ assistance; research and development of new technologies; and training foreign demining personnel.

U.S. involvement in humanitarian demining began in 1988 in Afghanistan and expanded with the establishment of the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program in 1993. This partnership among the Department of State, Department of Defense, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made a significant contribution toward reducing the annual landmine casualty rate from an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 just ten years ago to approximately 5,000 today.

We share common cause with all who seek to protect innocent civilians from indiscriminately-used landmines, both anti-personnel and anti-vehicle, and we consider our participation in this conference an opportunity to engage on the future of mine action.

Learn more about United States mine action at www.state.gov/t/pm/wra; www.usaid.gov/our_work/humanitarian_assistance/the_funds/lwvf/; and www.humanitarian-demining.org/.

Comments

Comments

Zharkov
|
United States
November 30, 2009

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

It is nice if every nation would simply stop using land mines and fight wars the old fashioned way. It would be even better if we could stop using war as an alternative to diplomacy. If diplomacy doesn't work, then find another way.

Joe
|
Tennessee, USA
November 30, 2009

Joe in Tennessee writes:

Then why has not the U.S. ratified The Ottawa Treaty ? We are the only major power who has not. One hundred and one nations have agreed, why not us?

Ron
|
New York, USA
November 30, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

Humanitarian Land Mines...(Oxymoron of the New Millennium).

Land Mines are the ultimate symbol of War; which is by definition, the taking of land at the cost of people. Demining still puts people in harm's way. Do we still manufacture mines? Are we willing, as a civilized nation, to continue their use? and to fund their removal?

Ron
|
New York, USA
November 30, 2009

Ron in New York writes:

Blood-Diamond Postings?

Did I imagine this important Topic?

It was here this morning...now, gone!

DipNote Bloggers write:

@ Ron in New York -- You may find Ambassador Perry's blog entry on Sierra Leone and blood diamonds here.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
December 1, 2009

Eric in New Mexico writes:

US NATIONAL POLICY ON ANTIPERSONNEL LAND MINES

http://tinyurl.com/yf8h7xc

Source: globalsecurity.org
---

Joe in Tenn. asks a good question, and the answer may be that US policy goes beyond what the international community is willing to agree to in terms of limits of use and deployment.

But just for clarity's sake, I hope we see some official feedback on the subject here on the blog.

I was watching Rajiv J. Shah's nomination hearing this morning on the Senate Foreign Relations website;

http://foreign.senate.gov/

...and I think the fellow has one heck of a job ahead of him getting USAID positioned to take on the added responsibility that a civilian surge represents in all aspects of what State and USAID do in co-implementing the President's foreign policy agenda.

Wheras USAID has become somewhat an extention of State as aid provider and program manager, State must now become an extention of USAID on the diplomatic level to make nation building work effectively.

I don't mean on an administrative level, but on the ground with the locals.

I think it may be helpful for him to have a attitude going into the job of "Move over rover, let USAID take over." and be the point source coodinator of all ngo and contractor efforts in country, which would make the auditing of funding fairly simple in theory and folks wouldn't risk stepping all over each other trying to get the job done.

So as the diplomacy supports the development, the packaging of a program for local delivery in Afghanistan becomes an interagency/intergovernmental effort coodinated through USAID, including DOD/ISAF security provided to site locations.

Point being, you don't want to dig a well or build a clinic or a school only to have them destroyed because the village didn't have enough security to safeguard the infrastructure.

In terms of Afghaistan's 10 million landmines left over from 30 years of conflict, the coordination with local communities, training the locals in demining and providing jobs as incentive to create a sustainable local eradicaton program is a logical methodology to solve the problem.

It's only natural this collaboration should take place, as the locals have the primary vested interest in clearing the land for productive use.

Dave
|
Maryland, USA
December 1, 2009

Dave in Maryland writes:

@ Joe in Tennessee--Actually, the United States is among 37 nations that have not signed onto the Ottawa Convention, including several countries also commonly considered to be "major powers."

The reason why the U.S. hasn't signed is that past administrations concluded that the United States would not be able to meet its national defense needs nor its security commitments to its friends and allies if the U.S. signed the Ottawa Convention, even if the United States has not used a landmine since the 1991 Gulf War, exported a landmine since 1992, or even manufactured any landmines since 1997.

In contrast, this administration has said it is committed to a comprehensive review of its landmine policy, and has decided to send observers to the conference in Cartagena, Colombia. You have to admit it's a step forward.

Meanwhile, the U.S. record on humanitarian mine action -- $1.5 Billion in mine action aid in almost 50 countries and in partnership with more than 60 NGOs since 1993 -- shows that America shares the humanitarian concern of countries that have signed the Ottawa Convention, and remains the world's single largest supporter of efforts to help post-conflict countries saely remove landmines.

Steve
|
New Mexico, USA
December 1, 2009

Steve in New Mexico writes:

@ Ron in New York -- You're right--landmines can injure and kill people and rob communities of valuable land, which then can disrupting humanitarian aid and ultimately post-conflict recovery. That's one of the many reasons why the United States is the single largest financial contributor to efforts to safely clear landmines worldwide.

You're also right that demining personnel face serious risks every day in the name of helping families to reclaim their homes and farmland. U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action funds the efforts of these guys and gals who are heroes in my book!

The U.S. also trains new local demining personnel, allowing countries to take charge of their own efforts and eventually become "mine -impact free," as they have in El Salvador, Honduras, and Costa Rica. How come that's not better known?!

The United States has not manufactured a landmine since 1997, but remains deeply committed to helping countries address the scourge of landmines.

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