US Bishops join call to ban landmines

Independent Catholic News
'Small Targets: Children & Landmines in Mozambique' American bishops have joined a call from 76 nongovernmental organizations to President Obama, urging the United States to relinquish antipersonnel landmines and join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty without further delay.

The United States is one of only 37 countries in the world that have not joined the Mine Ban Treaty and the only country in the Western Hemisphere aside from Cuba that has not joined.

Bishop Richard E Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the Committee of International Justice and Peace of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), wrote in a letter:  “This is a crucial humanitarian decision that should not be put off any longer, or postponed during a busy election year,” the organizations’ representatives said in a letter. “We urge you to submit the treaty to the Senate this year for its advice and consent next year.”

The letter comes as the Obama administration concludes the comprehensive interagency review of its landmine policy, initiated in December 2009, and enters the decision-making stage.

Since starting the review, the letter notes, the administration has received letters of support for the Mine Ban Treaty from 68 Senators, 16 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates, key NATO allies, retired senior military personnel, dozens of NGO leaders, victims of US landmines, and countless concerned Americans.

It notes that 161 countries are signatories to the Mine Ban Treaty, including every member of NATO except the United States, as well as every member of the European Union, and other key US allies such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

Signers of the letter included representatives of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, Church of the Brethren, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, Evangelicals for Social Action, Presbyterian Church (USA), Human Rights Watch, the Islamic Society of North America, Jesuit Refugee Services/USA and Pax Christi USA.

Full text of the letter is available online: