(11 December 2002)
The Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) CBL called on the United States to give a firm commitment NOW that it will not use antipersonnel mines in any future conflict in Iraq. ICBL also cautioned governments not to stray from their obligations under the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.
"The United States should not use antipersonnel mines in Iraq or elsewhere. Use of antipersonnel landmines in Iraq would reverse nearly a decade of U.S. commitment to completely eliminate antipersonnel mines, and would fly in the face of widespread international rejection of the weapon, including by the U.S.'s closest military allies," said Jody Williams, co-recipient of peace prize with the ICBL."
According to a study released last month by the General Accounting Office, the Bush Administration is reported to be reviewing war plans that include plans for the use of mines. The last time the United States used antipersonnel mines was against Iraq in the 1991 Gulf War. Landmines were identified as the cause of 81 U.S. casualties during that conflict. The U.S. stockpiles approximately 90,000 antipersonnel mines in the Persian Gulf region in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Diego Garcia, a territory of the United Kingdom in the Indian Ocean.
The U.S. has not joined the Mine Ban Treaty, though its current policy is to try to do so by 2006. All other members of NATO are party to the treaty except Greece (which has signed) and Turkey, which are on the verge of fulfilling their promise to join simultaneously. Other likely military partners, such as Australia and New Zealand, are also States Parties.
The ICBL believes that participation in joint operations with an armed force that uses antipersonnel mines is clearly against the spirit of the Mine Ban Treaty, and possibly a violation of the treaty obligation not to assist in any way with the use of antipersonnel mines by anyone else. The ICBL calls on State Parties to insist that non-signatories do not use antipersonnel mines in joint operations, and to refuse to take part in any joint operations that involve use of antipersonnel mines.
The ICBL also expressed concerns about the antipersonnel mines that the United States has stockpiled in five States Parties (Germany, Japan, Norway, Qatar, and the United Kingdom at Diego Garcia), and the possibility of the U.S. transiting mines across the territory of States Parties for possible use in Iraq. Qatar has been identified in media reports as a likely headquarters for future U.S. military action in Iraq.
Project Officer International Campaign to Ban Landmines
110 Maryland Avenue NE Suite 509, Box 6 Washington, DC 20002 USA
Tel. +1 202 547 2667 Fax +1 202 547 2687