Australia to look at US move to lift landmine restrictions


As a signatory to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the move has the potential to put Australia in a difficult position with its major ally.

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Australia also has a stated commitment to the goal of a world free of landmines by 2025

The Australian Arms Control Coalition – which includes Save the Children, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam – called on the Australian Prime Minister to publicly condemn the decision by the United States.

“Australia has long been a strong supporter of mine action and is a state party to the APMBC and the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” the letter to Mr Morrison reads.

“Australia is also supporting efforts to reduce the number of deaths and injuries from landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war through bilateral aid partnership and through the United Nations Mine Action Service.

“Given these efforts by Australia, the announcement by the US must be condemned by all countries concerned with the horrific humanitarian impact of landmines.”

The Department of Defence said Australia would continue to conduct all of its military operations in accordance with its international, domestic and legal obligations.

“With regards to landmines, Australia is a State Party to the Mine Ban Convention and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), and meets all of its obligations under those Conventions,” a Defence spokesman said.

Defence said Australian forces were experienced at incorporating its weapons treaty obligations into joint operations with other militaries.

ADF personnel are not allowed to use cluster munitions, even when deployed with the forces of countries who are not signatories to the Cluster Munitions Convention.

Under the changes, US forces will now be able to use landmines “in exceptional circumstances”.

When announcing the decision on January 31, the Trump administration said the Obama Admistration’s ban of the weapons put US troops “at a severe disadvantage”.

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