30 January 2020 – CIVIC expresses its concern regarding reports that the Trump administration plans to reverse a standing US policy that largely banned the use, production, and acquisition of anti-personnel landmines (APLs). According to news sources, the Administration’s new landmine policy would incorporate APLs in its planning assumptions, and more troublingly, allow their use in conflict. If the reports are accurate, then the policy change is yet another step backwards in the protection of civilians.
The Trump Administration’s decision to resume the use of anti-personnel landmines steers away from broader international efforts to progressively reduce or even halt the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Civilians continue to remain those most affected by explosive weapons, accounting for 66% of the overall 2,058 deaths and injuries occurring last month alone, and 92% of casualties when the explosives had been used in populated areas, according to Action on Armed Violence (AOAV).
Changes to the landmine policy are only the latest in a string of measures that have taken away vital protections for civilians. In November 2017, the United States (US) reversed a policy committed to ending the use of unreliable cluster munitions, despite the fact that these weapons killed and harmed thousands of civilians globally. The following year, the Administration rolled out a new set of policies intended to expand sales of armed drones.
“Reversing the ban on the use of anti-personnel landmines in conflicts sends a clear message to the millions of civilians caught in conflict: their protection is, at best, a secondary consideration in US foreign policy. While the international community prepares to discuss the adoption of a political declaration to address harm resulting from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, the US chooses to go the opposite way and remove existing protections,” says CIVIC Executive Director Federico Borello. “Resuming the use of anti-personnel landmines will have very real implications for civilians in conflict zones – civilians who have already suffered so much. This also sends the wrong message to all the military forces involved in conflict-affected areas. The US has long been seen as the norm-setter on the issue of civilian protection, and others may quickly follow suit and loosen their own protection policies.”
CIVIC calls on the United States to prioritize civilian protection in all its policies and to reinstate the ban on APLs.