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NCC, CWS CALL ON U.S. TO BAN LANDMINES AND CLUSTER BOMBS

December 5, 2000, NEW YORK CITY -- This week, the National Council of Churches and its service and witness ministry, Church World Service, are calling on President Clinton to join the Mine Ban Treaty in recognition of the third anniversary of the Treaty’s signing, December 3rd and 4th. Simultaneous with this, the NCC and CWS are joining with other faith-based, human rights, and development organizations in calling for a ban on another indiscriminate weapon—cluster bombs.

"It is time for the U.S. to take decisive action in accordance with accession to the Mine Ban Treaty," wrote Brenda Girton-Mitchell, Director of the Washington Office of the National Council of Churches and Church World Service, in a letter to President Clinton dated December 4th. Church World Service landmine petitions with more than 4,500 new signatures from 35 states accompanied the letter to the President. This is in addition to the more than 60,000 signatures that Church World Service has already delivered to President Clinton while in office.

Brenda Girton-Mitchell urged for the Clinton administration to accelerate its efforts to become a member of the Treaty in four ways: announcing a ban on the production of landmines, committing to a no-use policy in joint operations, adhering to promises to find alternatives, and abandoning efforts to develop a mixed system which would include anti-personnel landmines.

In a separate but related effort, the Rev. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, and the Rev. John McCullough, Executive Director of Church World Service, are calling for a moratorium on the manufacture, sale and transfer of cluster bombs. "A cluster bomb cannot even be considered a ‘weapon of war’ because its victims, like those affected by landmines, are not confined to the battlefield," said the Rev. Bob Edgar. "Cluster bombs are yet another indiscriminate weapon that continue to inflict damage long after a conflict has subsided, just when people are beginning to rebuild their lives. The moral outrage generated by cluster bombs is just beginning to take shape and must be as contagious as the moral outrage generated by the landmines campaign."

"The senseless use of landmines and cluster bombs turns fertile land into killing fields," noted the Rev. John McCullough. "The U.S. and other military forces around the world must rethink their use of both of these weapons. It has been our partners in over eighty countries around the world who have helped to educate us as to our country’s own culpability in creating this scourge. Some projections put the dud rate at 30% for cluster bombs. This would mean that as many as 1,000,000 unexploded ordnance dropped by the U.S. during the Gulf War still haunt the daily lives of Iraqis and Kuwaitis; as many as 90,000 may still be active in Serbia and Kosova."

The "Call For A Moratorium on Cluster Bomb Use, Manufacture, Sale and Transfer" was initiated by Mennonite Central Committee. Signatories to the statement include an initial list of 37 organizations from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Egypt, Italy, Laos, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Among the 18 US signatories are the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Human Rights Watch, and Veterans for Peace. The Call for a Moratorium remains open for signature and will be released at the meeting on the Convention on Conventional Arms in Geneva, Switzerland, December 11-13th.

Church World Service is a longstanding member of the U.S. Campaign To Ban Landmines, a coalition of over 400 medical, religious, human rights, veteran, peace, and other organizations. The USCBL will be hosting the International Campaign To Ban Landmines 2001 General Meeting in Washington, D.C, March 6-11, 2001. The NCC and CWS are encouraging its member communions to attend the conference, lobby day and other public events during this time.

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U.S. Campaign to Ban Landmines

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