Promoting Security Through Conventional Weapons Destruction and Humanitarian Demining

December 19, 2011
Arhuaco Children Play With a Ball in Colombia

This week, we are releasing the tenth edition of To Walk The Earth In Safety, the Political Military Affairs Bureau's annual report on the United States' Conventional Weapons Destruction Program. U.S. assistance is helping countries recover from conflict by enabling them to create safe, secure environments to rebuild infrastructure, return displaced citizens to their homes and livelihoods, and establish situations conducive to stability, nonviolence, and democracy.

We are proud of U.S. leadership in this area, as the United States continue to be the world's leading donor to Conventional Weapons Destruction, including humanitarian mine action. In Fiscal Year 2010, the Department of State provided $161.5 million in assistance to 43 countries, which contributed to the extraordinary decline in annual landmine casualties. Since the inception of the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program, we have contributed more than $1.9 billion in assistance to 81 countries, helping several of them become free from the humanitarian impact of landmines in the process.

Among the report's highlights is the success story in Central America where U.S. contributions helped the region become "mine-impact free," the first geographical zone to reach this distinction. The report also outlines continued progress in Afghanistan, where U.S.-pioneered community-based demining initiatives have helped clear over 80,000 square meters of land in Helmand Province, which has resulted in the destruction of more than 700 metric tons of explosive material often used to make improvised explosive devices (IEDs). This is a trend the United States hopes will continue and be adopted by other countries.

Our Quick Reaction Force also assisted with clearing abandoned and unexploded munitions left over from World War II in Torokina, Papua New Guinea. Today, these civilian technical experts are partnering with the Libyan government to secure tons of small arms left over from the former regime, including approximately 5,000 man-portable air-defense systems or MANPADS to date. Further progress can be seen in a host of our country programs, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Cambodia, Croatia, Mozambique, Sudan, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam.

From our initial focus on landmine clearance dating back to 1993, U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction efforts, led by our Bureau's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, have expanded over the years to encompass remediation of all explosive remnants of war, as well as the destruction of excess, loosely secured, or otherwise at-risk small arms and light weapons, including MANPADS and munitions. These programs leverage our longstanding involvement and experience in humanitarian mine action to provide additional assistance to countries recovering from conflict. U.S. assistance also helps countries struggling to control unstable and unsecure munitions that could spark a new humanitarian crisis, or, in the case of MANPADS, endanger global aviation.

This work is not done in a vacuum. The programs discussed in the report are part of a collaborative effort by the Department of State, Department of Defense, the United States Agency for International Development, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the Department of Health and Human Services. Another hallmark of our conventional weapons destruction programs are the partnerships that have been established with other donor nations, international organizations, and affected states. For instance, the United States engages in multilateral fora to enact stricter controls on conventional arms, MANPADS, and munitions. In addition to diplomatic engagements, the Department of State reaches out to civil society, both at home and abroad, to raise the profile of these important issues and encourage grassroots involvement in addressing these challenges. Our strong Public-Private Partnership Program empowers dedicated individuals to play a role in improving the lives of their fellow citizens.

Thanks to support from the U.S. Congress and the American people, we are sustaining American leadership and values in forging ahead with diplomacy and development to help everyone walk the Earth in safety.

Comments

Comments

Ms.Maté F.
|
Illinois, USA
December 19, 2011

Mate F. in Illinois writes:

Good Day,

Felicitations for all the work done, Bringing peace by helping others to reach the fully potential in their life transitions is essential. By rebuilding infrastructure and cleaning land mines facilitates peace, freedom and democracy. I Hope one day all those fields where kids and family live will be safe for farming and run free!

.

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