November 14, 2012
Thank you, Madame President. I would like to congratulate you on your assumption of the Presidency of this Conference and assure you of the full support of our delegation. We would encourage other observer states here to take the necessary steps to become States Parties to Amended Protocol II. We fully recognize the humanitarian threat associated with the indiscriminate and irresponsible use of mines, booby traps, and other devices, in particular Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Commitment to Address Humanitarian Concerns
The United States continues to demonstrate its commitment to address the potential humanitarian consequences caused by landmine use. In 2012, the U.S. Department of State provided $149 million in conventional weapons destruction assistance. This assistance, provided to over 30 countries across 4 continents, included funding for humanitarian mine action, destruction and security of small arms, light weapons and conventional munitions. In 2013, the U.S. expects to provide $126 million.
The United States remains the leading donor to humanitarian mine action around the world, with U.S. contributions since 1993 totaling more than $2.0 billion, with assistance provided to more than 90 countries.
Operation and Status of the Protocol
Since 2009 the United States has been undergoing a comprehensive review of our landmine policy with a view to whether we could accede to the Ottawa Convention. The operational issues raised by accession require careful consideration and this work is ongoing. We have not yet made a decision and there is no timetable for its completion. Until the policy review is completed, the current landmine policy, as announced in 2004, remains in effect. The U.S. continues to focus on reducing and eventually eliminating the threat of landmines to civilians by seeking to address humanitarian concerns to civilians while balancing legitimate U.S. national security requirements and commitments to allies around the world.
To address the humanitarian problem caused by the indiscriminate use of persistent mines, the United States has taken the following actions:
- The United States maintains no minefields anywhere in the world;
- We have not exported anti-personnel landmines since 1992 and will not export any anti-vehicle mines unless they have self-destruct/self-deactivation features;
- As of January 1, 2011, any mines that may be used by U.S. forces must be self-destructing/self-deactivating; persistent mines of any type are no longer permitted;
- The United States has removed all persistent mines, both APL and MOTAPM, from its active inventory;
- As of 2009, the United States has removed and destroyed all non-detectable mines from our active inventory, except for a small quantity reserved for testing and training purposes. All of our mines are detectable with commonly available mine detection equipment.
- To date, the United States has destroyed 1.7M of 2.6M persistent anti-vehicle and anti-personnel mines. The remaining mines will be destroyed through our normal conventional ammunition demilitarization process. A small quantity of non-self destruct mines will be retained for countermine/demining testing and training purposes.
All U.S. mines remaining in the active inventory have a highly reliable self-destruct mechanism with a self-deactivation back-up that prevent these munitions from becoming persistent hazards.
All mines have field-selectable self destruct settings of 4 hours, 48 hours and 15 days, preventing the mines from becoming a persistent hazard.
All of our mines are subject to a rigorous testing process to identify weak, marginal or a breakdown of components due to aging. If any singular mine tested has any performance or reliability issues, the entire lot is taken out of the active inventory and will be destroyed in order to assure safety and reliability for our soldiers.
Madame President, the United States will provide additional comments with respect to IEDs at the appropriate time, but the discussions from April clearly demonstrated that the CCW can have a constructive role by helping to open the channels of communication between States; develop best practices aimed to address the diversion or illicit use of materials that can be used for IEDs in an effort to reduce the indiscriminate harm to civilians. While we can’t solve the IED problem within the CCW, the CCW does provide a unique forum for diverse States to engage on this issue. In doing so, however, we should take care not to duplicate parallel, preexisting efforts.