13 February 2009

Humanitarian, Faith, Medical and Veterans Groups Urge Obama to Review Landmine and Cluster Bomb Ban

(Washington, DC, 10 February 2009) - Leaders from 67 national organizations today called on President Obama to reconsider U.S. opposition to global treaties prohibiting the production, transfer, and use of antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions. The signers include the president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the head of Evangelicals for Social Action, the CEO of CARE, two former U.S. ambassadors, and one former senator.According to the letter, "Reconsidering these two treaties-and eliminating the threat that U.S. forces might use weapons that most of the world has condemned-would greatly aid efforts to reassert our nation's moral leadership."Though Obama was supportive of efforts to restrict landmines and cluster munitions in the Senate, the new president and his administration have not yet taken a position on either treaty. In December, while nearly 100 nations were gathered in Olso, Norway to sign a treaty banning cluster munitions, a spokeswoman for the Obama Transition Team said that the new administration would "carefully review the new treaty and work closely [with] our friends and allies to ensure that the United States is doing everything feasible to promote protection of civilians."The national organizations are seeking the start of a balanced review within the next six months of the past administration's decision to stand outside of the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.The Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was completed and signed by 95 countries in December 2008, follows in the model of the Mine Ban Treaty. The letter notes that, "The closest allies of United States negotiated the Convention on Cluster Munitions based on their conclusion that these indiscriminate and unreliable weapons pose an unacceptable threat to civilian populations during and long after combat operations have ceased-in much the same way as do landmines."On February 12 Senators Patrick Leahy and Diane Feinstein and Representative James McGovern will reintroduce the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act, legislation that would prohibit the use by U.S. troops of cluster munitions that leave behind large numbers of landmine-like submunitions on the ground, as well as any use of cluster munitions in civilian-populated areas.The letter was organized by the U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines (USCBL), a coalition of dozens of organizations and thousands of individuals. The USCBL is coordinated by the Friends Committee on National Legislation in Washington, DC.Letter to President Barack Obama, 10 February 2009Contact: Lora Lumpe, Friends Committee on National Legislation, lora@fcnl.org