WASHINGTON (August 19, 1997) -- An official of the U.S. Catholic Conference today welcomed yesterday's announcement that the United States government would participate in international negotiations, known as the Ottawa Process, for the purpose of concluding a treaty to ban antipersonnel landmines. The decision to participate in the Ottawa Process reverses a decision made earlier this year to seek a ban on landmines within the structure of United Nations negotiations.
The statement of John Carr, Secretary of the USCC Department of Social Development and World Peace, follows:
The U.S. Catholic Conference welcomes the decision of the Clinton Administration to join the Ottawa process seeking a global ban on antipersonnel landmines. The Bishops' conference had urged U.S. participation in Ottawa in a recent letter to President Clinton and in a meeting with Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and National Security Advisor Sandy Berger.
This important step must lead to full U.S. commitment to a comprehensive and early ban on all antipersonnel landmines. The purpose of the Ottawa process is to secure a comprehensive ban on landmines, not to seek exceptions for some mines, nor to delay the day when these indiscriminate weapons are banned.
The Catholic Campaign to Ban Landmines will intensify our efforts to urge strong and clear U.S. leadership in the pursuit of an early and effective ban. The Campaign will shortly be distributing kits to the 19,000 U.S. Catholic parishes urging prayer, education and advocacy on behalf of those killed and maimed by landmines and in support of a U.S. ban on landmines and U.S. leadership for a global ban.
While we very much welcome U.S. participation in the Ottawa process, we will continue to work to insure that U.S. efforts advance - and do not hinder - the moral priority of an early, effective and comprehensive ban on antipersonnel landmines.