Biden should embrace the humanitarian disarmament agenda

Biden should embrace the humanitarian disarmament agenda

Meters outside of Bagram Air Base’s perimeter fence, Afghan children play in an area designated by the U.S. Army as an antipersonnel landmine zone. (Naval Imaging Command) In his first speech upon being declared the president-elect, Joe Biden flagged making “America respected around the world again” among top-line priorities. Doing so must include putting the United States in alignment with its allies and an increasing global consensus on weapons use. Much of the agenda for doing so is advanced by redefining security as based on human needs — a necessity made more clear each day by a global pandemic for which kinetic weapons provide no defense. Fortunately, the “humanitarian disarmament” approach provides a good framework and blueprint. More than 250 civil society organizations have signed a global letter laying out how a focus on weapons use-related prevention and remediation can be helpful in moving to a better post-pandemic world. Within this framework are existing treaties recognizing that certain weapons are indiscriminate and should no longer be used because of the human suffering they cause. Biden can start with the Mine Ban Treaty. Early this year, the Trump administration revised U.S. antipersonnel landmine policy to consider using those weapons anywhere in the world. As a candidate, Biden indicated he would return to the earlier Obama-Biden approach, which instead set the goal of eventual U.S. accession to the treaty. He should go further and simply recognize that these weapons already have no place in the U.S. arsenal. We have neither used […]

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