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WASHINGTON (RNS) Leaders from 67 religious and humanitarian organizations have asked President Obama to reconsider U.S. opposition to global treaties that prohibit the use and transfer of landmines and cluster munitions.
“Reconsidering these two treaties — and eliminating the threat that U.S. forces might use weapons that most of the world has condemned — would greatly aid efforts to reassert our nation’s moral leadership,”
the Tuesday (Feb. 10) letter said.
The Mine Ban Treaty was signed by 122 governments in December 1997, and there are currently 156 member states, according to the International Campaign to Band Landmines. The new Convention on Cluster Munitions was signed by 94 states in December 2008. The United States has not signed either.
The letter recognizes that Washington has supported operations to remove landmines, but said such efforts are “undermined” by nonparticipation in the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Obama was asked to begin a review within the next six months of the past U.S. decisions to not join the treaties, and to examine both humanitarian and diplomatic concerns, as well as the interests of the U.S. military.
“The use of weapons that disproportionately takes the lives and limbs of civilians is wholly counterproductive in today’s conflicts, where winning over the local population is essential to mission success,” the letter said.
Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori; Ronald Sider, president of Evangelicals for Social Action; Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services; and the Rev. John H. Thomas, president of the United Church of Christ, were among the religious leaders who signed this letter.

By Karin Hamilton
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved.No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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