Excess and loosely secured weapons and munitions worldwide pose a security risk and humanitarian threat through illicit diversion to terrorists, insurgents, and other destabilizing actors. Landmines, unexploded ordnance, and other explosive remnants of war not only kill and maim thousands of people every year; they stand in the way of post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction, and inhibit long-term development.
The United States is committed to making post-conflict communities safer, thus saving lives, preventing injuries, and allowing displaced peoples to return to their homes, which enables faster economic recovery and development.
To highlight U.S. government efforts in this area, the State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement issues a yearly report, entitled To Walk the Earth in Safety.
The most recent edition, released on December 12th, documents how the United States has invested more than $2.9 billion since 1993 for the securing and safe disposal of excess small arms, light weapons, and munitions as well as the safe clearance of landmines and explosive remnants of war in more than 100 countries.
This investment makes the United States the world’s single largest financial supporter of conventional weapons destruction.
Many of these programs not only clear landmines and unexploded ordnance, they also help to educate communities, especially children, on how to prevent injuries and death from landmines and explosive remnants of war and create jobs that can provide a boost to post-conflict recovery efforts.
Conventional weapons destruction is a complicated process that requires broad international cooperation, therefore the State Department, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and other U.S. government agencies all work together with foreign governments, nongovernmental organizations, and private companies to reduce conventional weapons and munitions stockpiles, improve security at storage sites and implement humanitarian mine action programs.
In her introduction to the Report, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Tina Kaidanow noted that support for conventional weapons destruction is a “cornerstone of our national security policy” and stressed that “the success of our programs is built on strong bipartisan support from Congress and the people of the United States, who recognize that our nation benefits from helping to create a world in which all may walk the earth in safety.”