950127 US Public Diplomacy Agenda on Antipersonnel Landmines (by Warren Christopher)  Return to: Index of "Arms Control, Counter-terrorism and Military Affairs || Electronic Research Collections Index || ERC Homepage

                         DEPARTMENT OF STATE
                       Office of the Spokesman
As Prepared for Delivery                      January 27, 1995
                                 STATEMENT BY
                                    ON THE
                         U.S. PUBLIC DIPLOMACY AGENDA
                            ANTIPERSONNEL LANDMINES
                               JANUARY 27, 1995
Good Morning.  It is a pleasure to share the stage today with
the people who are most active in developing our policy on
landmines.  Senator Leahy and Representative Evans were vital
forces in achieving the U.S. moratorium on antipersonnel
landmine exports.  They continue to keep the world's attention
focused on this global problem, and literally we would not be
here without their leadership.
A vital participant in this meeting is the report, "Hidden
Killers:  The Global Landmine Crisis" 1994.  This report
describes the staggering problem that unexploded landmines pose
to the world today.  Between 80 and 110 million of these weapons
are scattered in 64 countries.  They claim 500 victims every
week.  They do not distinguish between civilians and combatants;
indeed, they probably kill more children than soldiers.  And
they do not cease to kill when peace treaties are signed and the
guns of war fall silent.
Last September at the UN General Assembly, President Clinton
dedicated our nation to the global fight against this deadly
scourge.  Our ultimate goal is the total elimination of anti-
personnel landmines.  As a first step, the President has called
on all nations to join us in negotiating an agreement to reduce
the number and availability of these terrible weapons.
Landmines may be the most ancient weapons on our arms control
agenda.  During the American Civil War, they were called "land
torpedos" in official records; ordinary soldiers knew them
simply as "infernal devices".  But today, at the end of a
century in which war has been waged increasingly against
civilians, landmines are employed for depressingly modern ends.
Around the world, mines strewn in farmlands and paddyfields, in
schoolyards and on country roads, make entire communities
uninhabitable.  They drive people from their land.  They keep
refugees from returning home.
These devices have been called "slow-motion" weapons of mass
destruction.  It is no exaggeration to say that they have also
become weapons of mass migration.  That is evident in the
depopulated areas of Mozambique, where every major road system
is blocked by uncleared mines.  It is evident in the barren
hills of Afghanistan, where mines have been placed
indiscriminately around agricultural lands, water wells, and
irrigation canals.
Landmines also make it harder for nations to move from conflict
to reconstruction, reconciliation, and growth.  They isolate
roads, railways, power lines and bridges from repair.  They
delay relief shipments.  They disrupt internal markets.  This
report vividly describes the results:  "Every task required to
rebuild a war-shattered society is put on hold until the mines
are cleared."
The Clinton Administration is pursuing a comprehensive strategy
to address the global landmine crisis.  We are helping countries
plagued by landmines to cast away their unwanted inheritance.
We are leading diplomatic efforts to curb the proliferation and
irresponsible use of these weapons.
The U.S. Demining Assistance Program provides training,
equipment, and funds to clear mines and to teach people how to
avoid them in countries like Afghanistan, Eritrea, Mozambique,
and Nicaragua.  In Cambodia, we have pledged $6 million to
support a demining effort that has been absolutely vital to the
success of peacemaking in that country.  We hope to expand our
assistance program to include other nations, including Rwanda
and Angola.
We are also working with the UN to organize an International
Meeting on Mine Clearance, which will be held in late May in
Geneva.  We hope the meeting will raise a large percentage of
the UN's proposed $67 million demining budget.
In 1993, the United States extended for three years its
unilateral moratorium on landmine exports.  We have urged other
nations to follow suit.  In 1994, we spearheaded a successful
resolution at the UN General Assembly to ban exports of anti-
personnel mines.
Consistent with President Clinton's initiative at the General
Assembly, we have also developed a proposal for a multilateral
control regime to restrict the production, stockpiling, and
export of anti-personnel landmines.  The regime will reduce
reliance on those kinds of landmines that cause the greatest
damage to civilians -- those that remain lethal indefinitely,
instead of self-destructing or deactivating.
I also want to call on the Senate to ratify promptly the
Convention on Conventional Weapons, which contains restrictions
on landmine use.  We want to work to strengthen this accord --
to protect civilians, to improve minefield marking and
recording, and most important, to expand its rules to cover
internal conflicts.
The United States will continue to work with other governments,
with the UN, and with private relief organizations to solve the
landmine problem.  We know that this is an immense challenge.
But we will meet that challenge, because we also know that
ridding the world of these hidden killers will save tens of
thousands of lives in the years to come.
Thank you very much.

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