US Blocks Mine Ban... Again

For those of you who missed it, in December, 125 nations signed a landmine ban treaty in Ottawa, Canada. It's not a perfect treaty by a long way but it is a huge step towards an international ban on anti-personnel mines. It's a big victory for the mine ban campaign and for mine victims the world over.

During the final draft of this treaty in Oslo, the US tried to weaken it demanding that there be all kinds of exceptions - eg that the US be allowed to keep their mines in Korea. It could have been severely detrimental to the process. Fortunately the other nations at this meeting told the US where to get off. This was embarrassing for the US as they were unable to bully other states around as they can in the United Nations. In the end, the US refused to sign the Treaty.

The US are now trying to blackmail Norway (a prime mover for the treaty) into not ratifying the mine ban by threatening to withdraw all its military equipment from Norway if they destroy or move any US anti-personnel mines. Norway is weaker than the UK (it's not part of the European Union) and it is heavily dependent on the US for its defence. This leaves Norway in a dilemma. There are American NATO anti-personnel mines in Norway which must be removed within four years of their ratifying the Ottawa Treaty. The Norwegians have a right to remove them because they are under their sovereignty and the Ottawa Treaty requires destruction of all mines within a nation's territory.

There is a way out though if other states who have signed the Ottawa Treaty come to Norway's aid - "Unity is Strength". Please send letters of criticism to the Clinton administration, letters of support to the Norwegian government and letters to the UK government asking they give all assistance possible to the Norwegians and that they publicly condemn the US's bullying tactics.

Greater Manchester Landmines Initiative (GREMLIN) on 0161 834 8301


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