Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing important policy changes to U.S. Anti-Personnel Landmine policy. After conducting a comprehensive policy review, the United States is joining the vast majority of countries around the world in committing to limit the use of anti-personnel landmines (APL).These changes reflect the President’s belief that these weapons have disproportionate impact on civilians, including children, long after fighting has stopped, and that we need to curtail the use of APL worldwide. They also complement longstanding U.S. leadership in the clearance of landmines and other explosive remnants of war.
The new commitment announced today will align U.S. APL policy outside of the Korean Peninsula with the key requirements of the Ottawa Convention – the international treaty prohibiting the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of APL – which has more than 160 parties, including all of our NATO Allies. This means that United States will:
- Not develop, produce, or acquire APL;
- Not export or transfer of APL, except when necessary for activities related to mine detection or removal, and for the purpose of destruction;
- Not use APL outside of the Korean Peninsula;
- Not assist, encourage, or induce anyone, outside of the context of the Korean Peninsula, to engage in any activity that would be prohibited by the Ottawa Convention; and
- Undertake to destroy all APL stockpiles not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea.
Additionally, the United States will undertake diligent efforts to pursue materiel and operational solutions to assist in becoming compliant with and ultimately acceding to the Ottawa Convention, while ensuring our ability to respond to contingencies and meet our alliance commitments.
The new policy announced today represents a further step to advance the humanitarian aims of the Ottawa Convention, and to bring U.S. practice in closer alignment with a global humanitarian movement that has had a demonstrated positive impact in reducing civilian casualties from APL.
Even as the United States takes this further step, the unique circumstances on the Korean Peninsula and the U.S. commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea preclude the United States from changing anti-personnel landmine policy on the Korean Peninsula at this time. As the United States commits to continuing our diligent efforts to pursue material and operational alternatives to APL, the security of our ally the Republic of Korea will continue to be a paramount concern.
World Leader in Humanitarian Mine Action
The United States is the world’s single largest financial supporter of steps to mitigate the harmful consequences of landmines and explosive remnants of war around the world, including through land clearance and medical rehabilitation and vocational training for those injured by these weapons. Since the United States Humanitarian Mine Action Program was established in 1993, the United States has provided over $4.2 billion in aid in over 100 countries for conventional weapons destruction programs. Through this assistance, the United States has:
- Helped 17 countries become free from the danger of landmines;
- Provided assistive devices and other rehabilitation services to over 250,000 people in 35 countries through the U.S. Agency for International Development-managed Leahy War Victims Fund.
This vital U.S. assistance has helped post-conflict countries consolidate peace and set the stage for reconstruction and development. Clearance efforts and victim assistance programs return land and infrastructure to productive use and assist in the rehabilitation and reintegration into society of survivors of mine and explosive remnants of war incidents.
Further information on U.S. humanitarian demining and conventional weapons destruction programs can be found in the State Department’s annual To Walk the Earth in Safety report.