Landmines Action Alert:

Updated 3 April 1998


Landmine Ban Advocates Continue Support for Ottawa Treaty

On May 16, 1998, it will be two years since President Clinton promised to complete negotiations "as soon as possible" on an international agreement to ban the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines.

Just such an agreement, the "Ottawa Treaty," was signed last December by 124 nations, including virtually all of America's allies, but the United States was not among the signers. The reason why the United States is not supporting the Treaty is because the U.S. military wishes to retain certain mixed mine systems in its arsenal which are illegal under the Treaty.

ACTION NEEDED: Contact your Representatives and Senators and urge them to tell President Clinton, prior to May 16 if possible, to quickly phase out the use of mixed mine systems, sign the Ottawa Treaty immediately, and provide the global leadership that this Treaty needs.

U.S. participation would enable the President to urge hold-out nations to sign, press all signatories to ratify, and insist upon compliance with the treaty with regard to the use of the weapon, destruction of stockpiles, demining, and survivor assistance. Urge Members of Congress to support increased U.S. financial assistance for landmines survivor assistance and for demining.

The U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines makes this easy with a point and click map on their webpage which will help you send an email message directly to your Representative or Senator.


Below is information from past action alerts. Still useful if you are new to the issue or want a refresher.

WHITE HOUSE | HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES | SENATE


White House

The Clinton Administation announced on 18 August that it would participate in the Canadian-led negotiations on a treaty to ban the use, production, sale, and stockpiling of anti-personnel landmines. The treaty talks began on September 1 in Oslo and the treaty signing will take place this December in Ottawa. The process is supported by over 100 governments as well as hundreds of disarmament, humanitarian, development, and religious organizations worldwide.

The Oslo negotiations ended, however, without the U.S. agreeing to the treaty text. At Oslo, the U.S. negotiating position pushed an agenda which included a number of exceptions and conditions that would have sabotaged the treaty. In Oslo, the U.S. requested:

  • An explicit geographic exception for the demilitarized zone between South and North Korea.
  • A specific exemption for U.S. cluster systems which deploy both "smart" anti-tank and anti-personnel mines in a single cannister.
  • A nine year delay period before the treaty enters into force or a requirement that the treaty would not enter into force until a majority of producers and users have ratified it.

The international community remained firm in its belief that it wanted a total ban treaty, one without loopholes, exemptions, and reservations. After two weeks of negotiations and an inability to find supporters for its position, the U.S. finally withdrew its amendments to the treaty and announced that it would be unable to add its name as a signatory. Eighty-nine countries did agree with the draft treaty and approved it for signing in December at Ottawa.

Updates on the landmine ban treaty negotiations from the Oslo NGO/International Campaign to Ban Landmines website.

U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines information on U.S. decision to join the Ottawa Process:

Clinton Administration documents on landmines:

Action Needed

CALL PRESIDENT CLINTON at (202) 456-1111 and ask President Clinton to ban AP mines in the U.S. by accepting the Oslo treaty and signing it in Ottawa, Cananda this December. Keep the pressure on!!

House of Representatives

On September 11, Reps. Lane Evans (D-IL) and Jack Quinn (R-NY) introduced the House version of the "Landmines Elimination Act of 1997" to keep up the pressure on the Clinton Administration. The bill would bar new deployments of anti-personnel landmines by U.S. forces beginning on January 1, 2000. This legislation would supercede legislation passed by Congress in 1996, which called for a one-year moratorium on the use of scatterable anti-personnel landmines by U.S. forces, to begin in 1999. The new bill would establish a permanent ban on mine use, with one exception.

The legislation would not affect the United States' only existing minefield, in Korea. The bill contains an emergency waiver provision allowing future mine deployments there, but mandates an annual report from the President to Congress declaring that doing so "would be indispensable to the defense of the Republic of Korea." The legislation also requires a report from the Secretary of Defense to the Congress within 180 days after enactment "describing actions and proposals to substitute for new deployments of such landmines on the Korean Peninsula."

Action Needed

Over one third of the members of the House of Representatives are original cosponsors of the Evans-Quinn landmine bill (they are all listed at the start of the bill text linked above and below). A majority of the members, however, are still uncommitted. Contact these members by phone or mail to discover their position on this issue. Let them know how you feel about a "go slow" approach on ridding the world of the scourge of landmines. In your writing, conversation, or meeting, urge your Representative to: 1) support the Canadian treaty process and a total landmine ban treaty; 2) write a letter to the President asking him to support the same; and 3) become a cosponsor of the Evans-Quinn "Landmines Elimination Act of 1997."

Representative ______
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
202-225-3121 (House switchboard)

Senate

On June 12 Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) unveiled S.896, the Landmine Elimination Act of 1997. The bill would bar new deployments of anti-personnel landmines by U.S. forces beginning on January 1, 2000. Senators Leahy and Hagel withheld their legislation during the Oslo negotiations to provide the Clinton Administration with time to participate in the Ottawa process. But with the Clinton Administration's decision, however, these two Senators and their House counterparts will now proceed with their legislation to ban anti-personnel landmines.

This legislation would supercede legislation passed by Congress in 1996, which called for a one-year moratorium on the use of scatterable anti-personnel landmines by U.S. forces, to begin in 1999. The new bill would establish a permanent ban on mine use, with one exception.

The legislation would not affect the United States' only existing minefield, in Korea. The bill contains an emergency waiver provision allowing future mine deployments there, but mandates an annual report from the President to Congress declaring that doing so "would be indispensable to the defense of the Republic of Korea." The legislation also requires a report from the Secretary of Defense to the Congress within 180 days after enactment "describing actions and proposals to substitute for new deployments of such landmines on the Korean Peninsula."

The Pentagon says that the South Korean minefield is necessary to stave off an invasion by North Korea, and this has been one of the principal stumbling blocks to U.S. participation in a landmine ban treaty being sponsored by the Canadian government. Over 70 governments are participating in the Canadian treaty process, which will be opened for signatures in December. The Leahy-Hagel legislation is intended to force the U.S. government to address its security concerns in Korea so that it can engage constructively in the Canadian treaty process.

At a press conference announcing the bill Sen. Leahy said, "the damage done by these hidden killers long after the guns fall silent and the armies have gone home far outweigh whatever small benefits they add to our enormous and unsurpassed military arsenal." Click here to see press coverage of the event.

Sen. Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, added, "This question comes down to, is this really a military option we need today? I don't believe it is. After careful study and consideration and seeking the opinions of many present and former military commanders, I have decided that America should show leadership on this issue. We can take the moral high ground and still insure a strong, flexible military." All six of the Vietnam veterans serving in the Senate are co-sponsors of the bill.

Click here to see statements by Senators Leahy, Hagel and Feingold.

Action Needed

Sixty out of 100 Senators currently co-sponsor this measure (see list below). These men and women need to be thanked for their support of this initiative and urged to work actively on its behalf. The goal of Senators Leahy and Hagel is to reach a veto-proof 67 cosponsors. Please urge those Senators who have not yet become cosponsors of the Leahy-Hagel "Landmine Elimination Act" to pledge their support and add their name to this list.

In particular, the target Senators are Bill Frist (R-TN), Ernest Hollings (D-SC), Conrad Burns (R-MT), Paul Coverdell (R-GA), Mike DeWine (R-OH), John Glenn (D-OH), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Robert Smith (R-NH), and Fred Thompson (R-TN). If you are a constituent of one of these Senators, or any of those not listed below, please contact him or her with an email message (be sure to include your postal address in order to confirm that you are a resident of the Senator's state), letter or phone call, and urge that they join with Senators Leahy and Hagel --- and 58 others --- in support of the "Landmine Elimination Act of 1997."

Senator _______
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510
202-224-3121 (Senate switchboard)

SENATE COSPONSORS OF THE "LANDMINE ELIMINATION ACT OF 1997"
Daniel Akaka (D-HA) Russ Feingold (D-WI) Joseph Lieberman (D-CT)
Max Baucus (D-MT) Diane Feistein (D-CA) Richard Luger (R-IN)
Joe Biden (D-DE) Wendell Ford (D-KY) John McCain (R-AZ)
Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) Charles Grassley (R-IA) Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Barbara Boxer (D-CA) Chuck Hagel (R-NE) Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
John Breaux (D-LA) Tom Harkin (D-IA) Carol Mosely-Braun (D-IL)
Richard Bryan (D-NV) Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Patrick Moynihan (D-NY)
Dale Bumpers (D-AR) Daniel Inouye (D-HA) Patty Murray (D-WA)
Robert Byrd (D-WV) Jim Jeffords (R-VT) Jack Reed (D-RI)
Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) Tim Johnson (D-SD) Harry Reid (D-NV)
John Chafee (R-RI) Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID) Charles Robb (D-VA)
Max Cleland (D-GA) Edward Kennedy (D-MA) Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
Susan Collins (R-ME) John Kerry (D-MA) Paul Sarbanes (D-MD)
Kent Conrad (D-ND) Bob Kerrey (D-NE) Gordon Smith (R-OR)
Alfonse D'Amato (R-NY) Herbert Kohl (D-WI) Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
Tom Daschle (D-SD) Mary Landrieu (D-LA) Arlen Specter (R-PA)
Chris Dodd (D-CT) Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) Robert Torricelli (D-NJ)
Byron Dorgan (D-ND) Patrick Leahy (D-VT) Paul Wellstone (D-MN)
Richard Durbin (D-IL) Carl Levin (D-MI) Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Robert Bennett (R-UT) Craig Thomas (R-WY) Christopher Bond (R-MO)

Click here to see the 12 June 1997 FAS press release on landmines.


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