Banning Land Mines

August 8, 1997 • Volume 7, Issue 30
Should the U.S. support a total global ban?
By Mary H. Cooper

Introduction

Land mines claim 26,000 victims per year, many in Cambodia and other parts of Southeast Asia. (Photo Credit: Landmine Survivors Network)
Land mines claim 26,000 victims per year, many in Cambodia and other parts of Southeast Asia. (Photo Credit: Landmine Survivors Network)

Anti-personnel mines kill and maim long after wars and civil strife end. More than 100 million active mines lie hidden in more than 80 countries, claiming 26,000 victims - mostly civilians - each year. Mines are cheap to produce and costly to remove, and 20 new mines are planted annually for every one cleared. A worldwide movement to totally ban the production and use of land mines has drawn support from more than 100 countries, which are expected to sign a treaty in Ottawa, Canada, in December. While it endorses an eventual ban on anti-personnel mines, the Clinton administration supports a treaty that would allow the U.S. to continue using some of its mines until alternative weapons are developed. One of the exemptions the U.S. seeks is for ”smart” mines, which self-destruct after a few hours or days.

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