German Initiative to Ban Landmines
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It is a widespread misunderstanding that only antipersonnel mines (APM) are responsible for the humanitarian disaster caused by landmines. Also anti vehicle mines (AVM) mines pose a considerable threat to the civilian population, and claim many victims as the tragic reality shows. Respectable estimates assume that between 15- 20 % of all laid mines are believed to be antivehicle.
Especially AVMs equipped with antihandling devices (AHD), tilt rod fuzes or magnetic fuzes, trip- or breakwires pose a significant threat to civilians. Due to the sensitiveness of these fuze technologies, they can cause a mine explosion from an unintentional act. Individual people are basically threatened by such mines when they move (either with or without a vehicle!) over/past/close to such mines. Therefore most existing AVMs act like antipersonnel mines.
Their explosive force makes their impacts all the more devastating and usually fatal for several victims. AVMs are laid together with APMs to increase their destructive power yet further. Buildings, railway lines, roads and other infrastructures are often blocked with AT/AV mines. Often AVM incidents result in a number of death and injured people travelling with trucks or pick-ups on mined roadways. But even a step on certain AVM can cause their detonation. Ignoring these facts means ignoring hundreds of death and injured civilians year by year.
As is generally known, the Ottawa Convention tries to impose a total ban on anti-personnel mines yet at the same time denies that anti-vehicle mines and anti-handling devices are, or were, ever part of the problem. But according to the Ottawa Treaty definitions antivehicle mines with antihandling devices that explode from an unintentional innocent act are considered antipersonnel mines and therefore prohibited. The diplomatic history from Oslo clearly shows that this was the understanding of the negotiators.
As it was feared the ban on APM wakes extensive further technological development of AVMs. Already in the beginning 90ties military requirements called for the integration of AP effects (e.g. anti-handling devices) into existing AT/AV systems in view of a future mine ban. This development continues up to now and includes the development of sensor fuzed “smart” mines.
Despite the often heard military argumentation that modern sensor fuzed “smart” AVMs do not pose a threat to civilians, producer of modern area defence AVMs confirm a lot of existing technical problems with a reliable target discrimination. It is known that even a smart off route mine can fire its warhead on to a passing animal or a person under specific circumstances (weather and soil conditions).
Therefore AVMs as well as bomblet ammunitions and (mine)submunitions are being more and more targeted by NGOs or ICRC for potential inclusion into future arms controllegislation. Meanwhile many see this as a logical extension of the APM ban.
Furthermore the report points out that certain AVM types are suspected to violate both, the CCW 2 Protocol and the Ottawa-Treaty. NGOs have urged all Ottawa and CCW-2 member states to clarify the consistency of their antivehicle mines with these treaties and asked them to report all existing AT/AV mine stockpiles to the UN General Secretary within their article 7 reports.
In the light of the current landmine warfare praxis and the landmine technology developments the German Initiative to Ban Landmines calls for a ban on all types of mines with antipersonnel effects and points to a considerable and rising number of ICBL member organizations sharing this position.