Wednesday, November 25, 2009

US refuses to join international consensus against land mines

CNN reports that the Obama Administration is continuing with the previous administration's opposition to the landmine ban treaty. This is extremely disappointing as the treaty is an excellent example of bottom-up law making and has been adopted by over 156 countries. It is the product of a remarkable process of consensus building by NGOs and governments, exemplifying international law at its best. The only significant states that are not party to the treaty are the United States, India, China, Russia, Iran, Israel, and the two Koreas. Virtually every western nation is a party and international NGOs have sought to shame the US into ratifying the treaty. I have previously written about such attempts at generating international law norms and getting states to comply with them here.

Activists had hoped that Obama's election would change US policy in this area, but that has not transpired. Ian Kelly of the State Dept. is quoted as saying "We made our policy review and we determined that we would not be able to meet our national defense needs nor our security commitments to our friends and allies if we sign this convention." Curious considering that many of those "friends and allies" are signatories to the treaty!