Resolution on Anti-Personnel Landmines

Adopted Unanimously Nov. 13, 1997, by the NCC General Assembly

WHEREAS the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. (NCCCUSA) has long sought an end to the arms race and curbs on the arms trade and called for sustained effort on the part of the U.S. government, in conjunction with other nations, for substantive and rapid progress toward arms control;

WHEREAS the NCCCUSA has affirmed the intrinsic worth of every human being before God and the right of each person to live in a healthy, sustainable environment;

WHEREAS more than 100 million anti-personnel landmines scattered in the ground in over 60 countries ­ among the most affected Cambodia, Vietnam, Angola, Mozambique, Bosnia, Afghanistan, El Salvador, Nicaragua -- create a dangerous, unhealthy environment for millions of people, daily destroy the prospect of secure livelihoods, and threaten people's very lives;

WHEREAS landmines kill over 10,000 people annually and maim another 12,000 ­ including children, women, and peacekeepers -- and new ones continue to be planted, increasing the potential of these deadly weapons to maim and kill long after wars are over;

WHEREAS the NCCCUSA is involved in facilitating sustainable models of development by supporting the efforts of grassroots and nongovernmental organizations around the world through Agricultural Missions, and whereas people most at risk of injury and death by landmines are rural people, especially farmers and their children whose economies and livelihoods are disrupted by the environmental damage caused by landmines as well as the high risk nature of their daily work -- plowing fields, planting, harvesting crops, collecting wood, fetching water, and grazing animals -- in mine-laden fields;

WHEREAS removal of landmines is slow, costly, and dangerous and in spite of ongoing demining and education efforts in many countries casualties continue to mount;

WHEREAS in April 1996 fifteen senior retired U.S. military officers ­ including the former commanding officers of U.S. Armed Forces in Korea, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Vietnam, and Desert Storm -- urged the President to ban the production, stockpiling, sale, and use of anti-personnel landmines and stated that a ban " would not undermine the military effectiveness or safety of our forces, nor those of other nations";

WHEREAS in December 1996 the UN General Assembly by a vote of 156 to zero with 10 abstentions adopted a U.S. sponsored resolution calling for completion of a treaty banning the production, stockpiling, use, and export of anti-personnel landmines as soon as possible;

WHEREAS the U.S. Congress has already enacted an export moratorium on landmines and legislation has now been introduced in Congress that would permanently halt U.S. deployment of anti-personnel landmines by the year 2000;

WHEREAS U.S. citizen action and advocacy has sharply increased consequent to programs of education about the longevity and human toll of landmines and the urgency of a ban;

WHEREAS more than 100 countries, including many of the countries most seriously affected by landmines and most U.S. NATO allies, have indicated they will sign the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of Antipersonnel Mines and on Their Destruction [hereafter referred to as the ban treaty] agreed to in Oslo, Norway, September 26, 1997 requiring them: never to use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain, or transfer antipersonnel landmines; to destroy current stocks and remove all mines in place; and to provide assistance and rehabilitation for landmine victims, such treaty to be signed in Ottawa in December 1997, culminating the Ottawa Process initiated by the Canadian government;

WHEREAS the United States refused to agree to the ban treaty after U.S. efforts to gain exceptions for anti-personnel landmines in the Korean Peninsula and for mixed mine systems that combine anti-tank and anti-personnel landmines, time delays on implementation, and the right to withdraw were rejected;

WHEREAS the absence of the United States as a signatory state to the ban treaty greatly diminishes the U.S. leadership role in all arms control measures; and

WHEREAS the General Board of the NCCCUSA adopted a resolution on November 17, 1995 calling for a complete ban on the use, production, stockpiling, sale, transfer, and export of anti-personnel landmines;

THEREFORE be it resolved that the General Assembly of the NCCCUSA:

RENEWS the November 17, 1995 call of the General Board for a complete ban on the use, production, stockpiling, sale, transfer, and export of anti-personnel landmines;

REAFFIRMS its solidarity with the people in mine-affected countries whose livelihoods and lives are threatened daily by the scourge of landmines, and with our partners and others who are working to promote awareness of the danger of landmines, support the rehabilitation of landmine survivors, and deactivate the more than 100 million landmines remaining in the ground in countries around the world;

REITERATES its support of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a global network of more than 1,000 citizen organizations -- including the NCCCUSA and a number of its member communions ­ in more than sixty countries working locally, nationally, and internationally to raise public awareness about the landmine crisis and advocate with governments for a complete ban on landmines at the earliest possible date;

CALLS upon President Clinton to drop U.S. insistence on the exceptions it previously articulated, sign the comprehensive ban treaty in December 1997, submit it to the U.S. Senate for its advice and consent to ratification as soon as possible, and join efforts to gain adherence by all countries;

URGES the U.S. Congress to enact expeditiously the legislation that has been introduced calling for a permanent halt in U.S. deployment of anti-personnel landmines.

REQUESTS the U.S. government to increase contributions to the United Nations Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Clearance, which provides funds for landmine awareness, clearance and eradication programs and assistance to victims;

CALLS FOR liturgies and prayers for those whose livelihoods and lives are threatened by landmines, for the victims of landmines and their families, and for the safety of those involved in the dangerous processes of demining;

COMMENDS the NCCCUSA in the USA member communions for their education, advocacy, and funding efforts thus far and; appeals to member communions to increase educational outreach about the global problem of landmines and to provide funds for landmine awareness, demining, and rehabilitation of victims of landmines, including continued support of the Church World Service and Witness appeal for the Fund to Eradicate Landmines Worldwide;

REQUESTS the NCCCUSA Church World Service and Witness Unit and member communions to continue their advocacy efforts on landmines, including work for U.S. signature and ratification of the comprehensive ban treaty, and to provide the necessary resources for this purpose; and

REQUESTS the NCCCUSA Church World Service and Witness Unit to dialogue with appropriate ecumenical partners on possible joint advocacy on the issue of landmines.