Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen congratulated the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines for being awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. "They have worked hard to raise public awareness of the humanitarian disaster resulting from long-lived land mines that kill and maim harmless civilians," Cohen said.
Cohen also congratulated the U.S. armed forces personnel who are leading the effort to eliminate this egregious threat to humanity. No other country in the world has done as much to remove these deadly mines from war-torn countries as the United States. Since 1993, the United States has spent a total of $153 million on humanitarian demining operations and has trained approximately one quarter of the world's humanitarian deminers. As a recent example, during fiscal year 1997, approximately 275 American soldiers trained over 1,200 deminers in Africa, Latin America, Indochina, and Bosnia in mine awareness educational programs, mine clearance techniques, and how to establish local and national mine action centers to manage and prioritize mine clearance techniques.
The results of these efforts have been dramatic. In Cambodia, where the United States has been assisting in the humanitarian demining effort, the death rate is half of what it was three years ago. In Namibia, the casualty rate has dropped 90 percent. In Angola, 268,600 mines and unexploded ordnance have been cleared allowing 100,000 Angolans to resettle on cleared land. The United States does not use anti-personnel land mines that remain active long after battles have ended.
President Clinton, the first world leader to call for an end to the land mines that are killing so many innocent people around the world, has made clear his firm commitment to eradicating the production, transfer, stockpiling and use of these destructive anti-personnel land mines. To that end, the United States will continue to pursue every avenue to achieve a treaty that would accomplish our shared humanitarian goals while, at the same time, protecting our vital national security interests and our men and women in uniform.