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NO. R-131. JOINT RESOLUTION URGING PRESIDENT CLINTON TO SIGN THE INTERNATIONAL TREATY TO BAN LANDMINES.

(J.R.S. 64)

Offered by: Senator Backus of Chittenden County and Senator Ready of Addison County.

Whereas, there are 110 million landmines in the ground in over 60 nations, and

Whereas, each week, 500 persons, primarily civilians, are indiscriminately maimed or killed by these most personal of weapons, and

Whereas, many United Nations and NATO troops continue to confront the perils of landmines in Bosnia, and

Whereas, tragically, for each new landmine that is cleared, 20 new ones are laid into the ground, and

Whereas, since 1992, the United States Congress has passed, and both Presidents Bush and Clinton have signed, moratoriums on American exports of these cruel tools of human misery and physical dismemberment, and

Whereas, the United States has agreed to impose a one-year moratorium on its own use of antipersonnel mines, except along international borders and demilitarized zones, beginning in 1999, and

Whereas, in April 1996, 15 senior retired American military officers, including Persian Gulf War hero General Norman Schwartzkopf, urged President Clinton to ban antipersonnel mines explaining that, in their opinion, American military effectiveness would not be undermined, and

Whereas, many Vermonters have passionately dedicated themselves to the worthy goal of eliminating antipersonnel mines, including Senator Patrick Leahy and the other members of Vermont's Congressional Delegation, former Trinity College President Sister Janice Ryan, and most especially the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams, a native Vermonter and former Putney resident, whose organization, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, served as a critical complement to the bold leadership of Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy, in formulating the newly adopted Landmine Treaty that over 120 nations, including close American allies Canada, Great Britain and Germany, signed in Ottawa on December 3-5, 1997, and

Whereas, while the United States has participated in negotiations to amend the 1980 Conventional Weapons Convention, which has poorly governed the use of landmines, it has to date refused to sign the new international treaty, therefore aligning itself with such nations as China, Pakistan and Cuba, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the Vermont General Assembly strongly urges President Clinton to sign the Ottawa Treaty on Landmines, and be it further

Resolved: That the Secretary of State be directed to send a copy of this resolution to President Bill Clinton and to the members of the Vermont Congressional Delegation.