Thank you, Madame Chair, for allowing me to take the floor. While my intervention would more properly fit under the agenda item on universalization, that is not scheduled until tomorrow afternoon, near the end of the intersessional, and we thought it best to make this statement sooner rather than later. I thank you for your indulgence.
Madame Chair, President Biden has been clear that the United States must work to curtail the use of landmines worldwide.
To that end, in April 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration began a comprehensive interagency review of U.S. anti-personnel landmine (APL) policy. Following the conclusion of this review, President Biden decided to announce a new U.S. APL policy, which was released by the White House just minutes ago.
Under the new U.S. APL policy, the United States will align its activities outside of the context of the Korean Peninsula with key provisions of the Ottawa Convention. This means the United States will:
- Not develop, produce, or acquire APL;
- Not export or transfer APL, except when necessary for activities related to mine destruction or removal, and for the purpose of destruction;
- Not use APL outside the Korean Peninsula;
- Not assist, encourage, or induce anyone, outside the context of the Korean Peninsula, to engage in activity that would be prohibited by the Ottawa Convention; and
- Undertake to destroy APL stockpiles not required for the defense of the Korean Peninsula.
Additionally, the United States will undertake diligent efforts to pursue materiel and operational solutions that would be compliant with and ultimately allow the United States to accede to the Ottawa Convention, while ensuring our ability to respond to contingencies and meet our alliance commitments.
U.S. policy since early 2020 permitted the use of APL worldwide, under the authority of U.S. Combatant Commanders.
The new policy reflects President Biden’s belief in the need to reduce the use of landmines worldwide, and complements longstanding U.S. leadership in the clearance of landmines and explosive remnants of war.
This new policy stands in stark contrast with Russia’s actions in Ukraine, where there is compelling evidence that Russian forces are using explosive munitions, including landmines, in an irresponsible manner, causing extensive harm to civilians and damage to vital civilian infrastructure.
The United States leads the world in conventional weapons destruction, having invested more than $4.2 billion in more than 100 countries since 1993 to promote international peace and security by addressing the threat of conventional weapons, including the humanitarian hazards from landmines and unexploded ordnance. The United States also has partnered with a number of other governments to reduce the risk that terrorists or other non-state actors might obtain small arms and light weapons or ammunition that are not properly secured.
Further information on U.S. humanitarian demining and conventional weapons destruction programs can be found in our annual publication “To Walk the Earth in Safety.”
Thank you, Madame Chair.