U.S. Statement at the 14th Meeting of States Parties to the Ottawa Convention

U.S. Statement at the 14th Meeting of States Parties to the Ottawa Convention

Steven Costner
Head of the U.S. Delegation

December 1, 2015

Thank you, Mr. President,

The United States is pleased to attend the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Ottawa Convention.

As many of you are aware, in 2014 the United States announced several important changes to our policy with respect to anti-personnel landmines (APL).  As you heard at the Third Review Conference of States Parties to the Ottawa Convention in Maputo, the United States announced that it will not produce or otherwise acquire any anti-personnel munitions that are not compliant with the Ottawa Convention in the future, including the replacement of such munitions as they expire in the coming years. In September 2014, we further announced that we are aligning our APL policy outside the Korean Peninsula with the key requirements of the Ottawa Convention. This means that United States will:

  • not use APL outside the Korean Peninsula;
  • not assist, encourage, or induce anyone outside the Korean Peninsula to engage in activity prohibited by the Ottawa Convention; and
  • undertake to destroy APL stockpiles not required for the defense of the Republic of Korea.

Although we are not currently changing our landmine policy with respect to the Korean Peninsula, where are our actions are governed by the unique circumstances there, we will continue to work to find ways that would allow us to ultimately comply fully and accede to the Ottawa Convention while ensuring our ability to respond to contingencies on the Korean Peninsula. The security of the Republic of Korea continues to be a paramount concern as we go forward.

As we continue our diligent efforts to pursue solutions that would be compliant with the Ottawa Convention, the United States remains committed to implementing Amended Protocol II of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. To that end:

  • The United States maintains no minefields anywhere in the world;
  • As of January 1, 2011, the United States ended the use of all persistent mines, which can remain active for years after the end of a conflict, and has since removed all such mines, both anti-personnel and anti-vehicle, from its active inventory. Those mines remaining in the active inventory have a highly reliable self-destruct mechanism with a self-deactivation back-up with field-selectable self-destruct settings of 4 hours, 48 hours and 15 days;
  • As of 2005, the United States has removed all non-detectable anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines from our active inventory. Except for a small quantity reserved for testing and training purposes, these mines were all destroyed as of 2009.
  • All of our mines – again, both anti-personnel and anti-vehicle – are detectable with commonly available mine detection equipment.
  • Since 2004, the United States has destroyed over 2 million persistent anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines. The remaining mines, other than a small quantity for countermine and demining testing and training purposes, will be destroyed through our conventional ammunition demilitarization process.

Overall, the United States is comprehensively addressing the humanitarian issues posed by landmines both through our own policies and through our humanitarian assistance efforts in concert with international partners, which have helped to dramatically reduce the number of people killed or injured by landmines each year and have helped 16 countries around the world to become free of the impact of landmines. We congratulate Mozambique, which was most recently added to this list, when they announced that they had completed clearance of all known fields of landmines in the country in September.

The United States has provided more than $2.5 billion in Conventional Weapons Destruction assistance to more than 90 countries and we look forward to continuing these efforts in the future.

Thank you, Mr. President.