Mine Ban Policy
Twenty-nine of the 35 countries in the Americas region are State Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty. In this reporting period, since May 2000, there have been four ratifications: the Dominican Republic (30 June 2000), Colombia (6 September 2000), Uruguay (7 June 2001), and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (1 August 2001). There are four remaining signatories that have not ratified: Chile, Guyana, Haiti and Suriname. Chile is in the final stages of the ratification process. Cuba and the United States remain the only two countries in the region that have not joined the Mine Ban Treaty.
Trinidad and Tobago enacted national implementation legislation in this reporting period, joining Canada, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. Brazil and Costa Rica are in the process of enacting national legislation. México has said that independent legislation is not necessary because international treaties are incorporated in domestic law.
Ten States Parties in the region have not yet submitted an initial Article 7 transparency report: the Bahamas, Barbados, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Panamá, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.
Nineteen countries in the region attended the Second Meeting of State Parties in Geneva in September 2000. Chile, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay participated as observers. At the meeting, governments welcomed Nicaragua’s offer to host the Third Meeting of States Parties in Managua in September 2001. Since the Second Meeting, Nicaragua has served as co-chair of the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance, with Canada and Honduras as co-rapporteurs of that committee. Perú has served as co-chair of the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance. Nineteen countries in the region attended the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in December 2000 and May 2001 in Geneva, including Cuba and the United States.
Thirty-two countries in the region voted in support of pro-Mine Ban Treaty UN General Assembly resolution 55/33V in November 2000. Dominica was absent. Cuba and United States of America were among the 22 governments globally that abstained.
Countries of the region continue to support OAS pro-ban resolutions. In June 2001, member states supported the OAS resolution on mine action in Ecuador and Perú, the resolution on supporting the OAS AICMA program in Central America, and the resolution in support of the Western Hemisphere becoming a landmine-free zone.
In October 2000, 28 countries in the region issued the “Declaration of Manaus,” during the Fourth Defense Ministerial Conference of the Americas in Manaus, Brazil. Under point 11 the Declaration called for “greater participation in effective implementation of the Ottawa Convention on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of antipersonnel landmines and on their destruction.” Signatories Chile, Guyana, Haiti and Suriname, as well as non-signatory the United States participated in the Manaus Conference.
From 6-8 November 2000, Argentina co-hosted with Canada the Regional Seminar on Stockpile Destruction in the Americas, with the cooperation of the OAS. The seminar concluded with the “Managua Challenge.” This calls for all remaining signatories from the region to complete ratification in time for the Third Meeting of States Parties. It also calls on all States Parties to submit their Article 7 reports by this date, and calls on all States Parties to arrive in Managua with their stockpiled mines completely destroyed.
At the July 2001 Summit of the Andean Community, representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Perú, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela issued a declaration called “Basis for a Project on Creating a Peace Zone and Promoting South American Cooperation,” which under its third point called for “completing the process towards establishing South America as an area free of antipersonnel landmines.”
Colombia remains the only country in the region where there is evidence that landmines are currently being used. The guerrilla groups FARC-EP and UC-ELN, as well as AUC paramilitaries, continued to use antipersonnel mines, apparently on an increased basis in 2000 and 2001.
Production and Transfer
The United States has not produced antipersonnel mines since 1996, but will not announce a moratorium or ban on production. The US is considering production of certain landmine “alternatives” that would be prohibited under the Mine Ban Treaty.
Colombia continues to produce a Claymore-type directional fragmentation mine (permissible under the Mine Ban Treaty in command-detonated mode). Colombian guerrilla groups produce homemade antipersonnel mines, antivehicle mines, and other improvised explosive devices.
Stockpiling and Destruction
Thirteen countries in the region have stockpiles of antipersonnel mines: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guyana, Nicaragua, Perú, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
Nations have revealed a great deal of new information about their stockpiles. With the submission of their first Article 7 reports, it is now known that Argentina has a stockpile of 89,170 antipersonnel mines and Brazil has a stockpile of 34,562 antipersonnel mines. Chile stated that its Army has a stockpile of 25,000 antipersonnel mines. Colombia stated that its Armed Forces have a stockpile of 18,294 antipersonnel mines. The Armed Forces of El Salvador told Landmine Monitor that El Salvador has a stockpile of 5,657 antipersonnel mines; previously El Salvador had reported that it had destroyed its mines. Uruguay reported to Landmine Monitor that it has a stockpile of 1,918 AP mines. Landmine Monitor estimates that Guyana has 20,000 stockpiled antipersonnel mines.
Venezuela has now said that it has a “small” stockpile for training purposes, but the size and composition of the stockpile remains unknown. Suriname is one of the only countries in the world where it is not known whether a stockpile exists.
The number of antipersonnel mines retained for training and development purposes in some countries of the region are the highest of any States Parties. Brazil intends to retain 16,550 antipersonnel mines, the most of any State Party. Ecuador reports that it will retain 16,000 mines, the second highest number of any State Party. Argentina reported that it will retain 13,025 mines, up from the 3,049 initially reported, and the fourth highest of any State Party. Perú reports that it will reduce the number of antipersonnel mines retained for training and development from 9,526 to 5,578.
Honduras destroyed its stockpile of 7,441 antipersonnel mines on 2 November 2000. Perú destroyed 117,506 antipersonnel mines from March 2000 through July 2001. Nicaragua destroyed 70,000 antipersonnel mine in seven separate destructions from April 1999 to June 2001; it reports it will complete stockpile destruction by December 2002. Argentina destroyed 200 antipersonnel mines in November 2000; it reports that large-scale stockpile destruction will commence in the second half of 2001 and will take 11 months. The Chilean Navy destroyed 2,000 antipersonnel mines in November 2000, but the government has not released a plan to destroy remaining stockpiles. Uruguay has destroyed 242 stockpiled AP mines since May 2000.
No stockpile destruction has been carried out to date in Colombia. Ecuador reported that 101,458 antipersonnel mines had been destroyed up to March 2000, but Landmine Monitor is unaware of further stockpile destruction as of July 2001. El Salvador reported to Landmine Monitor that stockpile destruction was to begin in January 2000 and end in July 2003, but no destruction had been reported as of July 2001.
Ten countries in the region are known to be mine-affected: Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Perú; as well as the disputed Malvinas/Falkland Islands.
According to the Colombian Campaign to Ban Landmines, at least 168 of Colombia’s 1,092 municipalities in 27 of the country’s 32 departments are mine-affected. The reported number of landmines laid in Chile varies considerably from one million to 250,000 depending on the source. The Chilean Army reportedly has 293 minefields, located in two Regions in the north and one Region in the south, potentially affecting 17 municipalities. Ecuador has estimated the number of mines on its side of the border with Perú to be in excess of 90,000. Although El Salvador had previously declared itself mine-free, the International Demining Group (UK NGO) and its partner organization CORDES have identified 53 mine and UXO-affected sites in four departments. Nicaragua reports that as of April 2001 there were 70,769 mines still in the ground in 369 areas along the northern border with Honduras and in 39 sites inside the country. Nicaragua also reports that its southern border with Costa Rica was declared mine-free in April 2001. Perú estimates that 120,000 antipersonnel mines are laid in its territory along the border with Ecuador.
Mine Action Funding
From the Americas the biggest contributors to mine action globally are the United States and Canada. The United States contributed approximately $97.6 million in mine action funding during fiscal year 2000, the highest amount contributed by the USA since it began providing assistance in 1993. The Canadian government contributed CDN$21.8 million (US$14.6 million) in fiscal year 2000-2001.
The OAS coordinates and supervises the Assistance Program for Demining in Central America (PADCA), with the technical support of the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB). PADCA is active in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Honduras. In 2000, the annual budget for the OAS regional program in Central America was $7.6 million, financed by Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the US and the UK. Between June 2000 and May 2001 financial contributions totalled approximately $6 million. According to the OAS, Italy and the Russian Federation have joined the donors group in 2001, while Switzerland is no longer listed.
OAS support for country programs in Perú and Ecuador are pilot projects with a two-year timeline requiring just over $2 million per year per country.
Mine clearance in Nicaragua is scheduled for completion by December 2004. As of April 2001, Nicaragua reported that a total of 64,874 emplaced landmines had been destroyed, and 2.1 million square meters of land cleared. In El Salvador, the International Demining Group is scheduled to implement in late 2001 a six-month pilot project that includes mine clearance. In Honduras, mine clearance operations began the final phase in Choluteca department, and clearance operations are scheduled for completion by September 2001. In Costa Rica, according to current plans, mine clearance operations are expected to be completed in July 2002. In Guatemala, clearance of UXO in the northern areas of El Quiché department was completed in March 2001, and clearance of all 13 departments considered high risk is scheduled for completion by 2004.
Ecuador reports that between July 2000 and March 2001, 2,889 mine were cleared and destroyed. Perú reports that from March 2000 to March 2001, 14,737 mines were destroyed in mine clearance operations around infrastructure and electricity towers.
The third and final verification stage of clearance of USA minefields around Guantánamo Bay in Cuba was completed in May 2000. In July 2001, the UK and Argentine Foreign Ministers agreed that an Exchange of Notes on a demining feasibility study for the disputed Malvinas/Falkland Islands should take place.
In Nicaragua, the use of Superman and Wonder Woman comics was discontinued after much criticism. In Colombia, a pilot project in 16 municipalities is being implemented between July 2001 and January 2002. In Ecuador, some limited mine awareness education has been carried out by the military’s psychological operations branch in Loja and El Oro, with the assistance of local schools. Perú reports that between March 2000 and March 2001 Army personnel carried out bilingual mine awareness campaigns in cooperation with the local population in the north of the country.
In 2000/2001, new landmine/UXO casualties were reported in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Perú. Colombia has by far the greatest number of new landmine/UXO casualties. According to the Colombian Campaign Against Landmines, there were 23 killed and 60 injured from landmines in 2000; from January through July 2001, a total of 138 mine casualties were reported. In Nicaragua, in 2000 and up until June 2001, there were 23 mine casualties, involving twelve civilians and eleven military. In El Salvador, 25 mine/UXO casualties were reported in 2000. Perú reports that there were six mine incidents involving seven casualties in the Army and National Police during 2000.
Governmental assistance to landmine and UXO survivors in the Americas is generally of poor quality. For the most part, there are limited resources available to military and police personnel, but resources for civilian victims are inadequate or non-existing. A marked urban bias in health care resource allocation compounds the problems.
In Colombia, the government launched in May 2001 a program for mine accident prevention and victim assistance in 20 municipalities. In Ecuador, the Association of Diabled Veterans “Upper Cenepa” was created within the Ministry of Defence, and disabled veterans were trained in computer programming.
A number of NGOs and international organizations contribute to survivor assistance efforts in the region. In Colombia, Bogotá-based CIREC Foundation produces approximately 500 prostheses and 3,000 orthoses each year. In El Salvador, a number of NGOs are involved in victim assistance, including PODES, which as of May 2001 had assisted 1,416 people. In Honduras, Handicap International Belgium is assisting the Ministry of Health set up the first prosthetic and othotic workshop in the capital.
The Canada/PAHO/México tripartite victim assistance project in Central America continues in Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador.