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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 54, February 2001

President Clinton Defers APL Decisions

On January 19, President Clinton announced he was deferring any decisions on the future of efforts by the Department of Defense to develop alternatives to anti-personnel landmines (APL). According to a Pentagon press release (January 19):

"The President's decision to defer further action on the APL alternatives program will provide latitude to the incoming leadership of the Department of Defense to review the APL efforts for itself, and to make decisions based on an assessment of the policy and military factors involved. ... The Defense Department strongly supports efforts to eliminate the threat to non-combatants posed by the irresponsible use of APLs. ... Indeed, the United States, and the US military in particular, have done more than the rest of the world combined to eliminate the risk to civilians posed by landmines. While the United States currently retains the right to employ APLs to protect our forces, and to provide security to our friends and allies around the world, we continue to search aggressively for suitable alternatives to APLs and mixed anti-tank systems."

Note: in Bamako, Mali, on February 15-16, an experts seminar was held on the universalisation and implementation of the Ottawa Convention in Africa. The Convention - seeking to establish a total, global ban on APLs - has so far been signed by 43 of the region's 53 states. The non-signatories are: the Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo (Brazzaville), Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia. In addition, twelve of the signatory states have yet to ratify the accord, including three states - Angola, Burundi and Sudan - believed still to be using landmines in ongoing conflicts. The seminar was jointly organised by Canada, France and Mali, and attended by over 50 states, including 40 from Africa, plus a large number of non-governmental organizations.

Report: Anti-personnel landmine decisions deferred, US Department of Defense News Release 029-01, January 19; Seminar of experts on the universalization and implementation of the Ottawa Convention in Africa, French Foreign Ministry Statement, February 12; Campaign calls on African states to join, implement and comply with Landmine Ban Treaty, International campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) Press Release, February 14.

© 2001 The Acronym Institute.