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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2003 > October
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
October 6, 2003


Formation of Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement

2003/1010

The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs has realigned its Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs, Office of Mine Action Initiatives and Partnerships, and Small Arms/Light Weapons unit of its Office of Plans, Policy and Analysis into an Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (www.state.gov/t/pm/wra). Its mission is to contain the weapons and their aftereffects that are most responsible for fueling regional conflicts, unrest and terrorist activity worldwide.

"The menace to regional stability and public safety posed by persistent landmines, readily available small arms, light weapons, abandoned ordnance, and poorly secured munitions are interrelated and should be addressed in a comprehensive manner," said Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr., the Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs who also serves as the Special Representative of the President and Secretary of State for Mine Action. "The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, building upon the skills and successes of its predecessors, is designed and empowered to deal with these threats worldwide."

The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement exercises oversight of all U.S. Department of State humanitarian mine action efforts as well as policy and programs relating to landmines, small arms/light weapons and other remnants of war. It also develops public-private partnerships to support humanitarian mine action and related initiatives to help mitigate threats from other destabilizing weapons and improve the conditions for people and societies to recover from conflict.

KEY FACTS

  • About 60 countries are affected by persistent landmines that can remain a danger for decades. These "hidden killers" kill and maim thousands of people annually, keep valuable agricultural land out of production, and hinder economic recovery, humanitarian assistance and international peacekeeping efforts.

  • Man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), widely available and easy to conceal and deploy, pose a threat to civil aviation worldwide. Illicit MANPADS in global black markets and poorly secured stocks held by governments lacking effective controls, risk falling into the hands of terrorists, insurgent groups and organized criminals.

  • The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons (such as automatic rifles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and light mortars) exacerbates conflict, contributes to crime and terrorism, and is a proven obstacle to peace, economic development and post-conflict reconstruction.

  • Caches of abandoned ordnance and poorly secured or maintained stockpiled munitions, often located in or near communities, can and do produce catastrophic explosions.

Released on October 6, 2003

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