WASHINGTON (September 18, 1997) -- President Clinton's decision yesterday to reject a treaty banning anti-personnel landmines is a lost opportunity for U.S. leadership, according to the Chairman of the U.S. Catholic Conference's International Policy Committee.
"I profoundly regret U.S. rejection of the proposed treaty to ban anti-personnel landmines agreed to in Oslo today," said Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick of Newark. "I fear that our nation's leadership has lost an important opportunity in the urgent struggle to effectively ban these indiscriminate killers."
Archbishop McCarrick called the international ban on landmines an urgent "moral priority."
Unable to win concessions many viewed as an effort to weaken the treaty, President Clinton announced that the United States would not sign on. Despite U.S. rejection, the draft treaty was approved by 89 nations who will meet in Ottawa, Canada, in December to sign it formally.
"We acknowledge the President's pledges to shift U.S. policy and to ban the use of these weapons in most circumstances, but they cannot be substitute for active U.S. participation and leadership in bringing about a global ban on anti-personnel landmines without exceptions and without undue delay," Archbishop McCarrick said.
The USCC is coordinating a national Catholic Campaign to Ban Landmines, which recently mailed educational materials to all 20,000 parishes in the United States. Archbishop McCarrick noted that the Bishops will continue their efforts to persuade the U.S. government to ban landmines.
"We urge the President to reconsider his rejection of the treaty and rejoin the Ottawa process," he said.