Landmine Monitor 2001

Europe and Central Asia

Mine Ban Policy

Thirty-five of the 53 countries in Europe/Central Asia are States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, including three who ratified in this reporting period: Moldova (8 September 2000), Romania (30 November 2000), and Malta (7 May 2001).

Five countries have signed but not ratified: Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine. There are thirteen non-signatories in the region: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Krygyzstan, Latvia, Russia, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and FR Yugoslavia.

Some developments during the reporting period are encouraging. The Foreign Ministers of Greece and Turkey announced that they will join the treaty and will deposit their instruments of ratification and accession, respectively, at the same time. Cyprus has announced its intention to ratify soon. FR Yugoslavia has announced its intention to accede to the treaty. Belarus stated publicly on several occasions that the only impediment to joining the Mine Ban Treaty is its need for international financial and technical assistance for destruction of millions of stockpiled antipersonnel mines. Finland reiterated its goal of joining the Mine Ban Treaty in 2006.

Seven non-signatories in the region voted for United Nations General Assembly Resolution 55/33V in November 2000 calling for universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty, including Armenia, Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Latvia, and Turkey. However, of the 22 abstentions, five were in the region, including Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Uzbekistan.

Of the States Parties, 27 have submitted their initial Article 7 transparency reports as required under the Mine Ban Treaty. Five are late in submitting initial reports, including Albania, Iceland, San Marino, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.

Fifteen States Parties have enacted domestic implementation legislation for the Mine Ban Treaty: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. A number of other states indicate that the treaty has been incorporated into domestic law, or that existing law is adequate, and new, separate legislation is not needed: Andorra, Denmark, Ireland, Slovak Republic, and Slovenia. Other states report that legislative preparations are underway: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Holy See, Iceland, the Netherlands, and Portugal. The legislative position in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is unclear.

Since the Second Meeting of States Parties in September 2000, six States Parties in this region have served on the intersessional Standing Committees of the Mine Ban Treaty: Belgium (co-chair General Status), Croatia (co-rapporteur Stockpile Destruction), Germany (co-rapporteur Mine Clearance), the Netherlands (co-chair Mine Clearance), Norway (co-rapporteur General Status), and the Slovak Republic (co-chair Stockpile Destruction).

Use 

In the period since the release of theLandmine Monitor Report 2000, the most extensive use of antipersonnel mines in the region has been in Chechnya, where both Russian forces and Chechen fighters have continued to use mines, albeit at a lesser level than during the height of the conflict in late 1999 and early 2000.

There were a number of cases of new instances of antipersonnel mine use, or serious allegations of new use, in the region. These include: Russian forces have laid antipersonnel mines on the Chechen stretch of the Russian-Georgian border, and have laid antipersonnel mines inside Tajikistan on the Tajik-Afghan border; Uzbekistan has laid antipersonnel mines on its borders with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan (both governments have accused Uzbekistan of emplacing mines across the border in their territory); Kyrgyz forces reportedly mined the border with Tajikistan in summer and fall 2000, then subsequently cleared the mines; since ethnic Albanian insurgents began fighting the FYR Macedonia government in March 2001, at least six antivehicle mine incidents have been reported and there have been several reported seizures of antipersonnel mines being smuggled from Kosovo; in southern Serbia, bordering Kosovo, irregular ethnic Albanian forces have used antivehicle mines, and allegedly antipersonnel mines, too.

Armed non-state actors are reported to have used mines in four countries in the region: Georgia (in Abkhazia); FYR Macedonia; Russia (in Chechnya); and FR Yugoslavia (in and near Kosovo).

Joint Operations

The ICBL has expressed concern about the possibility of States Parties participating in joint military operations with a non-State Party that uses antipersonnel landmines, notably the United States in the NATO context. In this reporting period, several governments in this region have provided new or updated information on the issue of joint operations, including Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and the United Kingdom. These recent statements show a variety of interpretations of the issue, but indicate that many States Parties consider participation in joint operations where antipersonnel mines are used as not compatible with treaty obligations.

Production and Transfer

Landmine Monitor has decided to remove Turkey and FR Yugoslavia from its list of producers of antipersonnel mines. Turkey has, for the first time, provided Landmine Monitor with a written statement indicating that it has not produced antipersonnel mines since 1996, and has said that it does not intend to produce them. Turkey’s Foreign Minister announced in April 2001 that Turkey was starting the process of accession to the Mine Ban Treaty. FR Yugoslavia has also provided a written statement saying that it has not produced antipersonnel mines since 1992. While Landmine Monitor has received some contrary information in the past, this statement, combined with the decision of the new government to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty, justifies removal from the list of producers.

Russia is the sole remaining producer in the region, although it stated in December 2000 that it is decommissioning facilities for production of antipersonnel blast mines. Officials have said Russia is increasingly focusing efforts on research and development of landmine alternatives, rather than new antipersonnel mine production.

Landmine Monitor research did not find evidence of antipersonnel mine exports or imports by any country in the region.

Stockpiling and Destruction

Italy, with 3 million antipersonnel mines, and Albania, with 1.6 million, have the biggest stockpiles of Mine Ban Treaty States Parties; however, these numbers are outdated, as destruction programs are underway in both these countries. Italy had destroyed, as of March 2001, 4,086,057 antipersonnel mines. A NATO-sponsored stockpile destruction program is in-place in Albania. Romania for the first time reported that its stockpile totals 1,076,629 antipersonnel mines.

Mine Ban Treaty signatory Ukraine has revised its stockpile estimate to 6.35 million, down from earlier estimates of 10.1 million; still, this is thought to be the fourth largest stockpile in the world. Ukraine and Canada signed a framework agreement for destruction of PMN mines, and discussions are underway with NATO on a PMN destruction project. Other signatories in the region with large stockpiles are likely to be Poland and Greece. Neither has been willing to reveal information about their mine stocks.

Landmine Monitor estimates that Russia has some 60-70 million antipersonnel mines, more than any country except China. Belarus revealed for the first time the size of its AP mine stockpile: 4.5 million. Other non-signatories in the region believed to have large stockpiles are Finland, Turkey, and FR Yugoslavia. Georgia is reportedly conducting an inventory of its antipersonnel mine stockpile. According to one newspaper report, Kazakhstan possesses 800,000 to one million antipersonnel mines; this is the only known public estimate of Kazakhstan’s antipersonnel mine stockpile.

In this reporting period, four States Parties in the region completed destruction of their antipersonnel mine stockpiles: the Czech Republic in June 2001, Bulgaria in December 2000, Spain in November 2000, and the Slovak Republic in September 2000. Eleven others previously completed destruction: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Additionally, seven States Parties are in the process of destroying their stockpiles: Albania, Croatia, Italy, Moldova, Netherlands, Slovenia, and Sweden. Sweden, as of April 2001, has destroyed 2,335,069 antipersonnel mines since entry-into-force of the Mine Ban Treaty, and there were 24,200 antipersonnel mines still in stockpile. Slovenia destroyed nearly 20,000 antipersonnel mines as of May 2001; plans call for destruction of remaining mines by the end of 2001.

Five States Parties have not begun the destruction process: FYR Macedonia, Portugal, Romania, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. Romania has only been a State Party for a short time.

The problems associated with the destruction of PFM-1 and PFM-1S antipersonnel mines was the subject of an international meeting in Budapest co-hosted by Hungary and Canada. The following countries are thought to stockpile this type of antipersonnel mine: Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine.

With regard to mines retained for training and development, the highest number will be kept by Sweden, with 11,120, and Italy, with 8,000. After the ICBL raised concerns about excessive numbers retained, several countries have decided to decrease the number: Bulgaria from 10,446 to 4,000; Croatia from 17,500 to 7,000, Denmark from 4,991 to 2,106, Slovakia from 7,000 to 1,500; and Spain from 10,000 to 4,000. Slovenia confirmed that it will reduce the number of antipersonnel mines retained from 7,000 to 1,500 after 2003.

Stockpiling and Transit of Foreign Antipersonnel Mines

The United States stores antipersonnel mines in Norway (123,000 antipersonnel mines), Germany (112,000), United Kingdom at Diego Garcia (10,000), Greece (1,100) and Turkey (1,100). Germany and the United Kingdom do not consider the US mine stockpiles to be under their jurisdiction or control, and thus not subject to the provisions of the Mine Ban Treaty or their national implementation measures. Norway, through a bilateral agreement with the US, has stipulated the mines must be removed by 1 March 2003, which is the deadline for Norway to comply with its Mine Ban Treaty Article 4 obligation for destruction of antipersonnel mines under its jurisdiction and control.

The United States has also discussed with a number of treaty States Parties the permissibility of the US transiting mines through their territory. Research published in previous editions of Landmine Monitor showed that States Parties in this region, including France, Denmark, Slovakia, and Spain have indicated transit is prohibited. Norway and Germany indicated that this is permitted. During this reporting period, the number of States Parties indicating that transit would not be allowed has increased, with Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal and Switzerland added to the list.

Antivehicle Mines with Antihandling Devices

A key issue of concern to the ICBL is that of antivehicle mines with antihandling devices or sensitive fuzes which cause them to function as antipersonnel mines, and thus are prohibited under the Mine Ban Treaty. The ICRC hosted a technical experts meeting on the issue on 13-14 March 2001 in Geneva, which was attended by fifteen countries, including nine States Parties from this region (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom) and one non-signatory (Finland). During the reporting period, officials of a number of States Parties in this region made policy statements on this matter, including Belgium, the Czech Republic, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands, the Slovak Republic, Spain, and the United Kingdom. In the Belgian Parliament, legislation banning antihandling devices, or interpreting existing law to ban them, has been proposed and studied. In Germany, some Parliamentarians and government officials are considering options to ban or regulate use of antivehicle mines.

Landmine Problem

Of 53 countries in Europe and Central Asia, 24 are mine-affected, as well as the regions of Abkhazia, Chechnya, Kosovo, and Nagorno-Karabakh. Last year, Bulgaria and Slovenia were reported as mine-affected, but are now considered mine-free. Uzbekistan is now listed as mine-affected due to its mining of its borders with both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. FYR Macedonia is also now considered mine-affected, due to use of mines in the conflict with Albanian insurgents during 2001; casualties have been reported, but the extent of mining has not been determined.

Of the 23 affected states in this region, eight are States Parties (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, and Tajikistan) and four are signatories (Cyprus, Greece, Lithuania, and Ukraine). Eleven mine-affected countries in the region have not yet joined the treaty (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Russia, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Yugoslavia). In some cases, there is considerable contamination with unexploded ordnance (UXO) as well as mines.

The most serious problems are in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Yugoslavia (including Kosovo), Chechnya, and Nagorno-Karabakh. Bosnia and Herzegovina has recorded a total of 18,145 minefields. In Croatia, there are an estimated 4,000 square kilometers of mined or suspected mined areas. In Kosovo, a total of 620 minefields have been identified. Yugoslavia laid an estimated 50,000 mines. NATO bombing left as many as 30,000 unexploded cluster munitions which function like antipersonnel mines. Albanian officials state that the entire Albania-Kosovo border is affected by antipersonnel and antitank mines laid by Serbian forces. Nagorno-Karabakh reports that thirty percent of the territory’s agricultural lands are not being used because of the danger of mines. In Abkhazia, HALO Trust completed a minefield survey and estimated over 18.3 square kilometers of land were potentially mine-threatened.

World War II mines and UXO still require clearance in Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine and Russia. Other countries, such as the Czech Republic, have mine/UXO problems from munition dumps left by the former Soviet Union.

In Kosovo, a modified Landmine Impact Survey has been conducted. Advance survey missions have been conducted in Azerbaijan and Bosnia and Herzegovina, with plans for Landmine Impact Surveys in the future. In 2000 and 2001, the UN has carried out assessment or fact-finding missions in Belarus and Georgia/Abkhazia.

Mine Action Funding

Thirteen of the top seventeen mine action donors in 2000 are from this region, led by the United Kingdom ($21.5 million), Norway ($19.2 million), Germany ($14.5 million), the Netherlands ($14.2 million) and Denmark ($13.4 million). In 2000, notable increases in mine action funding were recorded in Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Mine action funding fell substantially in Italy and Sweden.

In Europe, research and development (R&D) programs are also a central part of mine action initiatives. On 17 July 2000, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed by the European Commission, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, and the United States, in order to establish an International Test and Evaluation Program (ITEP) to promote the development of new technologies for humanitarian demining. These countries, as well as France, Germany, Norway, Denmark, and Croatia are devoting considerable resources to R&D.

The major recipients of mine action funding in the region are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Croatia. Mine action funding for Kosovo in 2000 totaled about $33 million, more than any other location in the world. Bosnia and Herzegovina received about $15 million, a significant decrease from the previous year; funding shortfalls in 2000 and 2001 put the existence of the Mine Action Center at risk. Croatia has provided the vast majority of funding for mine action there, but foreign donors provided some $6 million in 2000. Estonia received $2.2 million from the US in 2000 for demining training and equipment.

Mine Clearance

During 2000 and early 2001, mine clearance operations of some sort (including sporadic clearance and clearance for military purposes) could be found in: Abkhazia, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, Chechnya, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, Nagorno-Karabakh, Poland, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Yugoslavia. Compared with last year’s Landmine Monitor reporting, additional countries with clearance operations are Kyrgyzstan and FYR Macedonia.

In 2000 and early 2001, Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Moldova had humanitarian mine action programs underway, as did Abkhazia, Kosovo, and Nagorno-Karabakh. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 2000, 1.7 million square meters of land were declared to be mine-free. In Croatia, 9.8 million square meters of land were cleared, and in Kosovo, 19.4 million square meters were cleared, including destruction of 10,713 AP mines, 3,920 AT mines, 3,729 cluster bomblets and 9,643 UXO. The UN Mine Action Coordination Centre plans to complete clearance of all known minefields and surface CBU by the end of 2001.

Mine Awareness

Mine awareness programs have been implemented in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Georgia, and the Russian Federation (Chechnya and Ingushetia), as well as Abkhazia, Kosovo and Nagorno-Karabakh. In Albania, in June 2000, an assessment mission was carried out jointly by the ICRC and a mine clearance NGO to determine the extent of the mine/UXO problem in the three most contaminated districts. As a result of the recent fighting in FYR Macedonia, the ICRC conducted a needs assessment in June 2001 in order to assess the extent of the UXO problem. In Kosovo, after the early proliferation of mine awareness programs, the UN Mine Action Coordination Center required accreditation of mine awareness organizations and also required that mine awareness be included as an element of all clearance tasks. In June and July 2001, the GICHD conducted a mine awareness and advocacy assessment mission on behalf of UNICEF to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Mine Casualties

In 2000-2001, mine/UXO accidents occurred in 19 countries in Europe and Central Asia. In Albania, 35 casualties were recorded in 2000, down from 191 in 1999. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, 92 casualties were recorded in 2000. In Croatia, 22 casualties were recorded in 2000, down from 51 in 1999. In Georgia, 51 casualties were reported between January and June 2001. In Kosovo, 95 casualties were recorded in 2000, down from 342 registered between 16 June (end of conflict) and 31 December 1999. In Nagorno-Karabakh, 15 casualties were recorded in 2000, down from 30 in 1999. In Tajikistan, mine injuries appeared to be on the rise with 58 casualties reported between August 2000 and early May 2001.

In 2000/2001, landmine/UXO casualties also include nationals coming from mine-free countries, or other mine-affected countries, killed or injured while abroad engaged in military or demining operations, peacekeeping, tourism, or other activities. These countries include France, FYR Macedonia, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Belgium and Uzbekistan reported mine/UXO casualties in 2000 and 2001, but not in 1999. Cyprus and Moldova reported no new casualties in 2000 or 2001, although these countries remain mine-affected.

Survivor Assistance

Among the notable developments with respect to survivor assistance in this region are: in Albania, an agreement was signed between the Albanian Mine Action Center and the Slovenian International Trust Fund to provide forty mine survivors with prostheses up to June 2001; in Armenia, in October 2000 the Yerevan Prosthetic and Orthotic Center stopped providing medical assistance due to a lack of funding, but operations were resumed in February 2001; in Azerbaijan, the Victim Assistance component of the National Mine Action Plan, budgeted to cost $150,000, has not been implemented due to the absence of donor funding; in Chechnya, UNICEF with the support of a local NGO, Voice of the Mountains, is developing a database on mine casualties; women and children were reported as suffering 34 percent of all landmine and UXO injuries; in Georgia, the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs is developing a special program for the care and rehabilitation of the disabled; and in Ukraine, the government fulfilled its budget obligations and financed the activities of the orthopedic centers in full; a series of state decrees relating to the disabled, including mine victims, have been accepted.

Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Sweden utilized the new Article 7 Form J, aimed mainly at voluntary victim assistance reporting.