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/.