On April 5, 2021, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs releases the 20th Edition of its annual To Walk the Earth in Safety report. This report underscores the accomplishments of the U.S. Conventional Weapons Destruction (CWD) program in 2020. CWD programs allow the United States to help partner countries manage their stockpiles of munitions, destroy excess small arms and light weapons (SA/LW), and clear explosive hazards such as landmines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and unexploded ordnance (UXO). Our assistance also helps countries destroy illicitly held or poorly secured man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). Through the CWD program, the U.S. government has collaborated with partner nations and international organizations to destroy more than 39,000 excess or poorly secured MANPADS that, if improperly safeguarded, could pose a serious threat to global civil aviation.
For 28 years the United States has led the international donor community in funding programs to address humanitarian hazards from landmines and unexploded ordnance in post-conflict countries. The United States is the world’s single largest financial supporter of conventional weapons destruction, investing more than $4 billion in more than 100 countries since 1993 to promote international peace and security. This includes addressing humanitarian hazards from landmines and unexploded ordnance in post-conflict countries, as well as partnering with nations to reduce the availability of excess, loosely secured, or otherwise at-risk small arms and light weapons and munitions. In 2020, the United States funded conventional weapons destruction efforts in 49 countries with more than $259 million.
The largest country program is Iraq, where the United States contributed more than $40.8 million in Fiscal Year 2020 to support the clearing of explosive hazards, including IEDs. Funding also supports explosive ordnance risk education to facilitate stabilization activity and promote the safe return of displaced persons, including ethnic and religious minority communities persecuted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). U.S.-funded implementing partners cleared nearly 20,000 explosive hazards and returned over 25 million square meters (over 6,177 acres) of land back to communities in FY 2020. There are now 11 U.S.-funded demining teams in Iraq’s Sinjar District, making the United States the largest international supporter of efforts to clear ISIS bombs from the ancestral homeland of Iraq’s Yezidi minority.
The assistance of the United States government and our global partners is crucial to building a more safe, secure and prosperous world. Working in close cooperation with the Department of Defense and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund, the State Department has helped numerous countries declare themselves mine-free. Thanks to strong bipartisan funding support from Congress, the State Department looks forward to continuing this important work with other donor countries, those impacted by conflict, and the brave men and women who work in the field to secure at-risk weapons and munitions and clear landmines and other explosive hazards.
For more information, please consult our website. To request a printed copy of To Walk the Earth in Safety, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at email@example.com. For the latest updates, follow us on Twitter @StateDeptPM.
Read the full 2021 To Walk the Earth in Safety report here.
About the Author: Brooke Leader is the Speechwriter in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.