On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, in an announcement that did not recieve much media attention, the Obama administration declared that it would not sign the international antipersonnel landmine ban. The administration said that the Bush era landmine policy “remains in effect.”
This is another disappointing decision by the administration and comes only two weeks before President Obama travels to Oslo to accept the Nobel Peace Prize.
The move brought immediate criticism. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., criticized the described the decision as “a lost opportunity for the United States to show leadership instead of joining with China and Russia and impeding progress.”
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a coalition of hundreds of NGOs, churches and grassroots organisations worldwide, “strongly condemned” the decision. “We cannot understand this shameful decision and we definitely cannot understand President Obama’s decision to continue with the Bush policy,” said Jody Williams, Nobel co-laureate for her role in the landmine ban. “This decision is a slap in the face to landmine survivors, their families and affected communities everywhere.”
Human Rights Watch condemned the decision saying that “It is painful that President Obama has chosen to reject the mine ban treaty just weeks before he joins the ranks of Nobel peace laureates, including the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.”
This decision will add to the disappointment felt by the peace community over Obama’s decision to widen the war in Afghanistan.