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For Immediate Release

PHR Comments on Landmine Treaty Announcement

Media Contact

Vesna Jaksic Lowe, MS

Media Relations Manager, New York
Tel: 917-679-0110

New York, NY - 06/27/2014

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), which shared the Nobel Peace Prize as a founding member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, said today that the United States has made progress by committing not to produce additional anti-personnel mines, but criticized the government for falling short of signing the Mine Ban Treaty.

“The U.S. government’s announcement that it will stop producing landmines is a step in the right direction, but we remain concerned about anything less than a full commitment to sign the Mine Ban Treaty as soon as possible,” said Widney Brown, PHR’s director of programs. “The U.S. government has been missing a key opportunity to lead on a groundbreaking agreement that has achieved great success in preventing the deaths of civilians, including many children.”

The announcement came during a conference on the progress of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty in Maputo, Mozambique. The treaty bans the use, trade, production, and stockpiling of anti-personnel mines and requires signatories to participate in demining and victim assistance efforts. PHR played a critical role in highlighting the medical implications of land mine use, and the implementation of this treaty has saved many civilians from being maimed and killed. To date, 161 countries have signed the treaty.

PHR said the United States has been providing funds for expensive and hazardous demining programs in other countries, but has, until now, continued to produce mines. In areas that have been mined, erosion, flooding, earthquakes, and development projects have contributed to shifting the locations of mines, creating new risks. While the U.S. government has said it only manufactures smart landmines – which can be deactivated or will self-destruct within a specific period – these landmines are not exempt from the treaty. 

The Obama administration announced in 2009 that it would review its policy on landmines, but the results of this review have never been made public. 

PHR shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for medically documenting landmine injuries and serving as a leader in the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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