Publications > Previous Publications > Paper 11: The Antipersonnel Landmines Issue in the Mediterranean
Paper 11: The Antipersonnel Landmines Issue in the Mediterranean
Written by Elvira Sánchez Mateos   
This paper is the result of the research undertaken by the Fundació CIDOB in the framework of EuroMeSCo in 1998. Its main goal is to describe the antipersonnel landmines issue situation in the Mediterranean and to propose some policy oriented measures with the aim of building confidence and improving security in the area.


Some Technical Issues

International legal Instruments and Commitments of the 27 Partners

Some Data about the Situation in the Mediterranean

Policy Orientations


1. Presentation

This paper is the result of the research undertaken by the Fundació CIDOB in the framework of EuroMeSCo in 1998. Its main goal is to describe the antipersonnel landmines issue situation in the Mediterranean and to propose some policy oriented measures with the aim of building confidence and improving security in the area.

I would like to express my gratitude to the group of people who have participated in different stages of the research and workshops and who have contributed to report with information and insights: Ahmed Ibrahim Mahmoud, Al Ahram Center, Cairo; Lucía Alonso, Seminario de Investigaciones para la Paz, Saragossa; Rafael Monsalve UNITAR Consultant, Madrid; Raül Romeva, researcher, UNESCO Chair on Peace and Human Rights, Autonomous University of Barcelona; Alfred Tanner, Geneva Center for Security Policy; Roberto Aliboni, Istituto Affari Internazionali, Rome; Martín Ortega, WEU Institute for Security Studies, Paris; Rafael Estrella, Spanish Parliament; Carles Campuzano, Spanish Parliament; Anna Terrón, European Parliament; EuroMeSCo Secretariat, Lisbon.


2. Technical issues

2.1. Definition of AP:

An antipersonnel landmine is a mine designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person and that will incapacitate, injure or kill one or more persons (Ottawa Convention 1997).

This definition clearly distinguishes antipersonnel (AP) mines from other types of mines, such as antitank mines or unexploded devices or ordnance (UXO). In practice, due to deterioration, unexploded devices or antitank mines can have similar effects to those of an anti-personnel mine. This makes it difficult to produce accurate estimates of their numbers and location, since some countries consider AP mines in the narrower sense (the design) and others in the broader sense (the effect that it produces), thus including antitank mines and UXO.

AP mines have been historically used for military purposes. However, some specialists argue that "the military utility of such mines is marginal, particularly if one compares that utility with the horrendous human and economic costs they entail. But it is conceivable that, in some instances, at least tactical military advantages could be extracted from laying AP mines against an enemy who does not possess them and who does not expect the other side to deploy them, so that a surprise effect could be achieved". (Müller, Wisotzki, Keller: 1997)

2.2. Location, detection and clearance

AP mines are usually deployed around a village, along a road, on bridges, near single trees, along a riverbank, or in concentration as a mechanism of defence. AP mines location is difficult, since sometimes they are deployed in unmarked minefields, and there are no maps and/or warning signs; in some cases, even when there are maps, weather conditions may move landmines from one place to another. AP mines detection is another problem; an anti-personnel landmine can be smaller than a pack of cigarettes and/or extremely difficult to detect (for example, a PMA-2 mine is made of plastic and TNT and is practicably undetectable). Destruction and clearance is very expensive: the cost of a single mine is less than $10, while the cost of locating and destroying one is estimated at between $200 and $1,000. Most countries have mine detection and clearance mechanisms in place, but their forces are often badly equipped and require additional equipment, such as anti-fragmentation helmets and suits, special shoes and ambulances. There is also a widespread need for training in new detection methods

There are three basic demining techniques; the clearance of lanes to facilitate progression and the clearance of routes and adjacent areas to allow deployment of troops and materials are basically military techniques. For military demining the surface to be cleared is very limited (lanes 4-to-5 meters wide) and an 80 per cent mine clearance level is considered sufficient. Military experts carry out such operations. The third technique is humanitarian demining: here it is necessary to clear broad areas to allow civilian use of the mined land, including specified areas, hills and valleys; it requires 100 per cent success in mine localization. Military personnel, civilian experts or local people with some training carry out humanitarian demining.

Individual European country initiatives in minefield location, currently funded from defence budgets, are largely limited to defence objectives although a few countries have engaged in humanitarian demining programmes under the auspices of defence agencies. Without civilian Research and Development (R&D) programmes, no significant contribution by European countries to the issue of localization and identification of AP mines can be expected. As a study by the European Commission Joint Research Centre stated in 1995: "There is a need for new methods, such as airborne and space-borne sensors, a standardized geographical information system (pilot experience in Angola to be exported to other areas) and new techniques for mine clearance and destruction should be investigated." (Van Orden, Van del Pyl, Sims, Sieber: 1997)


3. International legal instruments: commitments by the 27 partners

3.1. The Convention on Conventional Weapons

Early in 1974, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), with the support of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), held a conference for governmental experts on certain conventional weapons which are considered to be inhumane. The work of this conference continued until 1977, when the UNGA recognised that mines, among other war remnants such as unexploded devices, made economic and social development difficult in countries where such devices had been extensively used. In 1978 an International Conference opened and this eventually gave birth to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Treaty in 1980. The Treaty is also known as the Inhumane Weapons Convention or as "the Convention on the prohibition and restriction in the use of certain conventional weapons which may be deemed to be excessively injurious or to have indiscriminate effect." It was opened for ratification in 1981 and entered into force in 1983.

Critics of the Convention stressed the fact that it did not provide for control and verification mechanisms, that it was full of exceptions and was difficult to implement and that it excluded internal conflict. As a result, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Vietnam Veterans of War Foundation in the United States started a campaign on the consequences of the use of landmines and widened its campaign to stress the need to prohibit such weapons in 1991. In 1992, this campaign broadened into the International Campaign for the Banning of Landmines (ICBL), when other non-governmental organisations (NGOs), some United Nations agencies and the ICRC joined in.

In the following year, France asked for a review of the Inhumane Weapons Convention. This led to the approval of the CCW Amended Protocol on the prohibition and restriction on the use of mines, booby traps and other devices in 1996. The problem of reaching agreement by consensus (which in practice meant a generalised right-of-veto) led to a very limited review, which concluded that the Convention was applicable to internal conflicts for all conflicting parties if the state concerned had ratified the abovementioned convention. Criticisms of the outcome also included the fact that the definition of landmine was very narrow since it was defined as a device primarily designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of persons, and, thus, excluded other mines, as anti-tank mines designed for other purposes but which have, in fact, similar effects to those of a landmine. These unsolved issues led to the Ottawa Convention.

3.2. The Ottawa Convention

The conference held in Ottawa led to the signature in 1997 of a convention on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines and also dealt with their destruction. This is known as the Ottawa Convention and its main provisions include:

* The definition of a landmine: (Article 2)

* Exceptions permitted by the treaty: the retention or transfer of anti-personnel mines for the development of and training in mine detection, mine clearance, or mine destruction techniques is permitted. The number of such mines shall not exceed the minimum number absolutely necessary for this purpose. This statement is, however, far too broad a criterion for determining, in practice, what an acceptable minimum would be (Article 3).

* National commitments to destroy or to ensure the destruction of all stockpiled anti-personnel mines a country, owns, possesses, or that are under its jurisdiction or control, no later than four years after the entry into force of the Convention (Article 4).

* The commitment to destroy or ensure the destruction of all anti-personnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control no later than ten years after the entry into force of the Convention (Article 5).

* If any state party believes that it will be unable to destroy or ensure the destruction of all anti-personnel mines within the stated time periods, it may submit a request to a meeting of the state parties to the Convention, or to a review conference, for an extension of the deadline (Article 6).

* Entry into force: this was to occur on the first day of the sixth month after the month in which the 40th instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession had been deposited. For any state which deposits its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession thereafter, the Convention shall enter into force the first day of the sixth month after the date on which the deposit was made (Article 17)

* The Articles of the Convention should not be subject to reservations (Article 19).

Some of the most important antipersonnel landmine producers, such as the United States, China and Russia, have not signed the Convention. As far as the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership is concerned, the status of the 27 partners in March 1999 was as follows:

* Countries that have signed and ratified Ottawa Convention:

Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, Tunisia, United Kingdom.

* Countries that signed but have not yet ratified it:

Algeria, Cyprus, Greece, Malta.

* Countries that have not signed:

Egypt, Israel, Finland, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Turkey, Libya (the Palestinian National Authority is a particular case as it does not yet have the international status of being a state).

Some non-member states have made special commitments with respect to antipersonnel mines: in particular, Russia and the United States have announced moratoria on exports

3.3. The European Union's commitments

The growing international concern on the landmines problem also had an influence on the European Union during the 1990s, leading to several initiatives related to the elimination of landmines. These included a moratorium on transfers and production of mines and contributions to mine clearance operations, as well as financial contributions to and research on demining and demining operations:

* As far as the elimination of landmines was concerned, the European Union adopted a Joint Action on 1 October 1996 on antipersonnel mines (96/588/CFSP; OJ L 260, 12, 10, 1996, p.1); its objective was to end the indiscriminate use and spread of anti-personnel landmines throughout the world. The Union committed itself to the goal of the total elimination of antipersonnel landmines.

* With respect to the moratorium on transfers and production of mines and on contributions to mine clearance, the European Union urged the international community to negotiate a binding international agreement prohibiting the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines, in the Brussels Declaration of June 1997. Later on, in the Joint Action of 28 November 1997 the European Union committed itself "to the goal of total elimination of anti-personnel landmines worldwide as well as to contributing to solving the problems already caused by these weapons". This would involve "a common moratorium on transfers and a common moratorium on production of anti-personnel landmines" as well as "a multi-faceted contribution by the Union to mine-clearance and related activities". The joint action also states that "the European Community has increased its contribution in the field of mine clearance and relief for victims in the context of its humanitarian aid, reconstruction and development cooperation" and that it will continue to support these activities as well as research activities relevant to mine-clearance. Furthermore, the Union "shall provide assistance or contribute financially to programmes or projects in response to a request from a regional organization, a third country's authorities, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations or other organizations concerned". The priority guidelines for Union assistance are the participation in mine clearance operations; relief for victims, including assistance towards their rehabilitation, training of mine clearance specialists and mine clearance instructors, development of a database on mine clearance assistance and mine awareness activities. Lastly, the Union would have recourse to the Western European Union for the development and implementation of specific actions with regard to assistance for mine clearance. The Council was to decide on the allocation of financial contributions, and was to establish priorities and determine the conditions for implementing specific actions. The Presidency was to ensure liaison with the United Nations, the ICRC and other organisations and establish contacts with regional organizations and third countries to implement specific actions.

* Under the financial contributions and research on demining rubric, approximately ECU50 million were allocated to mine clearance and assistance to victims by various Commission Departments in 1996-1997. The Union and individual member states account for two thirds of the resources allocated to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund. The Commission's policy on AP mines was coordinated by Directorate General 1A, but specific actions are the responsibility of the relevant country desks (such as DG 1B for South Asia, DG 8 for Africa and DG1A for Bosnia and Croatia) and the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO).

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) acts as the central focus for the Commission's research and development effort in support of humanitarian demining. The Technologies for Detection and Positioning Unit operates within the Space Applications Institute of the JRC. Current projects include the provision of technical support to the EC civilian demining projects, including the development of a standard Geographical Information System for mine infected areas as well as the verification of advanced methods for minefield survey. At the request of the European Parliament, this Unit started experimental tests on the use of advanced radar remote sensing techniques for the detection and identification of AP mines in 1994. The European Microwave Signature Laboratory at the JRC is designed for experiments in the field of radar signature research. Its work complements in-field, air- and space-borne radar measurement techniques. Also a fully automated European Goniometric Facility is in operation at the JRC performing bi-directional reflectance measurements when appropriate, for optical and infra-red systems can reveal mines through the differences between reflectance properties of mines and of the environment. The JRC is also working on developing a Land Mines Information System for storing and disseminating a range of information and data relating to demining issues.

* Demining operations have also been undertaken. The European Union has had demining operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Mozambique and northern Iraq. Demining is also taking place in Croatia, in the wake of the Council Decisions of 9 November 1998 on specific actions in the field of assistance for mine clearance. Joint Actions 96/588/CFSP and 97/817/CFSP "provide for the possibility of specific actions in the field of mine clearance and indicate that such actions could take the form of training of mine specialists and mine clearance instructors" and this is particularly needed in Croatia. As a result, the Union decided on a specific action consisting of "coordinating, supervising and training mine clearance specialists and mine clearance instructors in Croatia" for a total cost of Ecu435,000, charged to the budget of the European Commission. The European Union requested the WEU to implement this action, what is known as WEUDAM (WEU de-mining assistance mission in Croatia)

Besides these operations, some individual state initiatives should be emphazised. An example is the Italian-Libyan Agreement of July 1998, which seeks to liquidate the remnants of colonization by the demining of areas mined by Italy during the Second World War. Both countries agreed upon the need to train specialised units and on the creation of a centre for the relief of victims, financed by both countries by means of a Social Fund.

3.4. Other initiatives

* The United Nations have been active at three levels; first, through the United Nations Demining Database, which collects data provided by national governments and NGO's; second, initiatives from the General Assembly, such as the UNGA Resolution of 22 October 1997 inviting all states to sign the Ottawa Convention and urging its ratification, and in the Resolution of 4 February 1997 on assistance in mine clearance, inviting states to develop national programmes to promote awareness of landmines, specially among children and stressing the importance of international assistance for the rehabilitation of landmines victims; and third, in supporting demining programmes in several affected countries.

* The United Nations Conference on Disarmament (CD) also has tackled the issue of antipersonnel landmines, but through an arms control, not a humanitarian, approach. In 1997 the United States decided to initiate negotiations on a worldwide ban of landmines in the sixty-one-member CD. The CD operates through consensus and its deliberations are still in progress. It seems that the resistance of the United States and others to the complete elimination of landmines stems from the military reluctance to abandon high technology mines.


4. Data on the situation in the Mediterranean

4.1. Countries affected by past wars

- Egypt: 23,000,000 (data supplied by the Government of Egypt to the UN), from the Second World War (El Alamein battlefield) and the Arab-Israeli wars (minefields in the Sinai Peninsula). "Large numbers of uncleared mines are scattered throughout the country, largely in thin populated areas".

- Egyptian-Libyan border: number unknown

- Greek-Turkish border: possible minefields

- Israeli-Jordanian border: possible minefields in military-controlled areas along the borders. Sporadic floods wash mines out. Poor maintenance of warning signs and lack of information on the precise location of each mine.

- Jordan: around 300,000, from Arab-Israeli wars.

- Jordanian-Syrian border: possible minefields in military controlled areas along the borders. Incidents due to accidental entry into a marked minefield or mines washed out of marked minefields in floods.

- Libya: number unknown, mainly from the Second World War. The country has asked the former Axis and Allied powers to remove them and to provide minefield maps

- Tunisia: number unknown, from the Second World War; the Tunisian military authorities report that 200-300 landmines are cleared annually.

4.2. Areas of unsolved conflict

- Cyprus: 16,942 (data supplied by the Government of Cyprus to the UN). Located mainly along the green line dividing the island; AT: 8,966; AP: 7,976. There are 100 confirmed minefields, considered by both governments an integral part of their defences.

- Gaza Strip: unclear status; number unknown. There are reports of locals detonating mines being used by Israeli forces for self-protection

- Lebanon: Known mines total 8,795 - 8,428 of them are AP mines. Estimates raise the figure to more than 200,000 AP mines, including possible landmines in Southern Lebanon, the Beqaa Valley, and the former Green Line in Beirut. Other figures estimate 20,000 landmines spread in 182 unmapped minefields, both in rural and urban areas.

- Syrian-Israeli border (Golan Heights): extensive "defensive" landmines; no exact location (close to the UN buffer zone) and number unknown. Unmapped minefields.

- Turkey: number unknown, located in the southeastern border with Iraq and Syria for "defensive" purposes. Iraq laid some during 1988-1991 in the ill-defined common border region. The government laid them along the PKK's (Kurdish Workers Party) main infiltration routes although the movement uses other routes as well; the PKK also uses landmines on transportation routes

- Western Sahara: number unknown, possibly from Moroccan origin. No location of minefields. Exact location of landmines is made additionally difficult by shifting sands.

4.3. Country by country situation

European Union


Austria has signed and ratified the Ottawa Treaty. It is a member of the CCW and has also ratified Amended Protocol II. Antipersonnel mines (excluding Claymore types) have not been used in Austria for decades, except for training purposes. The Claymore type (directional fragmentation mine) continues to be produced today. Production, export and use of other mines were formally renounced in 1995. Mine action includes direct financial assistance, in-kind contributions and research and development technologies related to demining. Austria has given assistance to Mozambique, Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Namibia and Cambodia. It has also provided mine/UXO clearance teams to Cyprus, the Golan Heights and Bosnia-Herzegovina.


Belgium has signed and ratified the Ottawa Treaty. It is a member of the CCW and signed the Amended Protocol II. Before the 1990s Belgium produced antipersonnel and antitank mines. In 1993 it established a moratorium on exports and passed a national prohibition law in 1995. In 1996 it started destruction of the stocks. Belgium keeps a small stock of mines for training and research purposes. Belgium has stated that it has not used mines since 1951 in the Korean War. It is not a country deeply affected by landmines, although, in both world wars, the territory was affected by mines and UXO. The latter issue still requires specialist intervention today. Mine action includes financial contributions and in-kind support. Belgium has participated in mine clearance operations in Somalia, Rwanda, Zaire, Iraq, Bosnia, Cambodia and Laos.


Denmark has signed and ratified the Ottawa Treaty. It is also a member of the CCW and has signed the Amended Protocol II. Denmark has stated that it has not produced any antipersonnel mine since the 1950s. It has never exported AP mines. It has started destroying its stocks, though it retains some AP mines for training purposes. It substantially contributes to humanitarian mine action programs, mainly channelled through UN agencies, the ICRC and NGOs. It is a country affected by mines since World War II (approximately 10,000 mines). The peninsula of Skallingen is an affected area and remains closed to the public.


Finland has not signed the Ottawa Treaty. It supports the legitimate right to self-defence and is the only country in the European Union that stands outside the Treaty.. Finnish authorities have stated that Finland has not produced AP mines since 1981. It does not export them, although it posses hundreds of thousands of AP mines. It reserves the right to use AP mines or other weapons that might function as AP mines. Finland has contributed to various mine action programs in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Angola, Mozambique, Bosnia and Laos.


France did not fully embrace the Ottawa process until the Brussels Conference in June 1997. It signed and ratified the Treaty, is a member of the CCW and signed the Amended Protocol II. France officially announced a moratorium on the manufacture of AP mines in 1995. In 1993 it announced a moratorium on exports. It has reported that it has 1.4 million antipersonnel mines in stockpile but has started destruction. Landmines might have protected some military installations in French territory. The possible use of landmines by French troops in overseas operations has to be verified. France contributes to multilateral mine action funding, especially UN agencies, and has provided bilateral aid to Angola, Cambodia, Honduras, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Chad.


Germany has signed and ratified the Ottawa Treaty. It is a member of the CCW and has ratified the Amended Protocol II. In the late 1950s Germany began producing AP and AT mines under license from foreign countries. Though information on landmines exports is classified, Germany has exported to several European and non-European countries. In December 1997 Germany finished destroying AP mines (1.7 million). It has retained 3,000 AP mines for training purposes. However, stockpiling and transfers of US AP mines are still allowed within Germany. Germany has and continues to fund mine action programs, specially providing support for humanitarian mine action (mine clearance and mine awareness) in the following countries: Nicaragua, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Georgia, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Azerbaijan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Laos, Sudan, Croatia, Egypt, Somalia and Vietnam


Greece has signed but not ratified the Ottawa Treaty. It is a party to the CCW but has not ratified the Amended Protocol II. Greece is known to have produced and exported AP mines. There is no definitive information on the current size of its stockpile. The Greek authorities have asserted that AP mine production has ceased, and in 1994 declared an indefinite moratorium on exports. Mines are not considered a severe problem, though there might be mines along the Greek-Turkish border and also some dating from the Greek Civil War along the northern border. Greece has donated funds to UN agencies for mine clearance, demining and victim rehabilitation.


Ireland has signed and ratified the Ottawa Treaty, is a member of the CCW and ratified the Amended Protocol II. According to official statements, Ireland has never produced or exported landmines. It has 130 AP mines for training purposes. Its mine action contributions include Angola, Bosnia, Cambodia, Mozambique and UN agencies.


Italy has signed and ratified the Ottawa Treaty, is a member of the CCW and has ratified the Amended Protocol II. Italy was one of the major AP mine producers and exporters in the past. In 1993, it began to change its landmine policy. It has passed strict laws on this issue. The list of military and commercial stocks of landmines is incomplete, but Italy possesses at least 7,500,000 AP mines. Last year Italy started the destruction of its stockpile. Italy was one of the most mine-affected countries after World War II, but today there are no mined areas in Italy. Private companies and the Armed Forces have been involved in demining operations and UXO clearance. Italy funds bilateral and multinational programmes and has contributed to demining operations in Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, the Caucasus, Croatia and Mozambique.


Luxembourg has signed but not yet ratified the Ottawa Treaty, is a member of the CCW but has not ratified the Amended Protocol II. Luxembourg has never produced or exported landmines. The authorities announced in 1996 the beginning of the destruction of the stockpile. Luxembourg is not a mine-affected country. It has contributed to UN agencies and ICRC demining operations.


Portugal has signed and ratified the Ottawa Treaty, is a member of the CCW and also ratified the Amended Protocol II. It has been a producer of AP mines, and Portuguese mines have been found in several African countries. In 1996 it announced an indefinite moratorium on production, export and use, except for training purposes. It has started destroying its stockpile. It funds mine actions programs through UN agencies and in Angola.


Spain has signed and ratified the Ottawa Treaty, is a member of the CCW and ratified the Amended Protocol II. It produced AP mines in the past, but stopped in 1996 and has now begun to destroy its stockpile. In 1945 it passed a moratorium on exports. The issue of US AP stockpiles is being discussed with US representatives. It has contributed to humanitarian mine action programs, to UN agencies and to the Organisation of American States since 1995.


Sweden has signed and ratified the Ottawa Treaty, is a CCW member and has also ratified the Amended Protocol II. It produced AP mines in the past, but since 1974 no longer produces or exports. It is in the process of destroying its stockpile, except for a small number, which will be retained for training purposes. The Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) is responsible for funding mine action projects. It has supported operations in Angola, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Iraq, Cambodia, Laos, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

The Netherlands

The Netherlands was one of the first countries to opt for a fast track procedure to ban AP mines. In 1996 the Parliament approved a ban on the use or possession of AP mines. It has signed and ratified the Ottawa Treaty, is a member of the CCW and has ratified the Amended Protocol II. It produced landmines in the past. In 1994,it started destroying of the stockpile, though it will retain some 5,000 mines for training purposes. The Netherlands has made significant contributions to mine action programs, through UN agencies, NGOs and governmental mine action in the following countries: Angola, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Mozambique, Bosnia, Iraq and Laos.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has signed and ratified the Ottawa Treaty. It is a member of the CCW and has ratified the Amended Protocol II. It has been a major producer of AP mines. In 1994 the government announced a partial moratorium on exports, which applied to conventional (dumb) APMs (those that do not self-destruct or self-neutralise). This was extended in 1996, and described as indefinite. It is in the process of destroying its stockpiles and will retain 4,000 AP mines for training purposes. The UK funds mine action programs on humanitarian demining. It has supported mine clearance projects in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Laos, Iraq and Mozambique

Other Mediterranean partners


Algeria signed the Ottawa Convention but has not ratified it yet. Ii is a member of the CCW, but has not ratified the Amended Protocol II. Algeria does not produce or export AP mines. It has imported mines from Italy, France, Yugoslavia, UK and China. Its stockpile is unknown. Minefields have been found in the region where Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA) operates. Algeria has a slight landmine problem. German and Italy laid mines during World War II in the northern coastal areas and France did so near the Tunisian and Moroccan borders during the Algerian war of Independence until 1962. According to the government there are still 1.3 million mines in place. After 1962, the Army undertook to demine affected areas. It has received maps from France. There are no clear figures on landmine casualties. Since Independence, there have been more than 3,000 victims. Other sources estimate that at least 40,000 people have been killed and 80,000 wounded.


Cyprus has signed but not yet ratified the Ottawa Treaty. It seems that Cyprus will be unwilling to ratify it as long as Turkey refuses to sign the treaty. It is a member of the CCW but has not ratified the Amended Protocol II. Cyprus is a former producer of AP mines, but is not known to have exported them. It has a stockpile of which the size and composition is unknown. During the 1974 hostilities attendent upon the Turkish invasion of the island, both Greek Cypriot and Turkish forces laid thousand of mines in and near the buffer zone of the "Green Line". The government of Cyprus estimated in 1995 that there were 16,942 mines in Cyprus, of which 7,976 are landmines. According to UN sources, there are 38 known or suspected minefields inside the buffer zone and an additional 73 fields within 400 metres of the buffer zone. All of the known minefields have been marked, but rain, landslides or earthquakes may have moved the landmines. There have been several attempts to clear the landmines, but the authorities on both sides of the island have failed to reach a consensus on this issue. The problem of demining the buffer zone also remains unsolved, since it is not under jurisdiction of any of the parties.


Egypt participated in the Ottawa process as an observer. It voted in favour of the 1996 UNGA Resolution urging states to pursue an international agreement, but abstained from voting for the 1997 UNGA Resolution inviting states to sign the Mine Ban Treaty. Egypt proposed some amendments to the treaty which were not accepted - the time period for stockpile destruction be extended to 5-to-10 years, the costs of destruction should be taken into account and all major parties were take part in the negotiations. Egypt's reasons for not signing the treaty included the fact that it did not take into account the legitimate security and defence concerns of states, particularly those with extensive territorial borders which need landmines to protect against terrorist attacks and drug traffickers. Also, Egypt voiced concern at a lack of financial and technical incentives in the treaty to help countries with landmine problems. Egypt signed the Convention on Conventional Weapons on 10 April 1981, but has not ratified it yet. Egypt produces APMs (8 types) and antitank mines (10 types). Egypt has exported mines to at least seven countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Nicaragua, Rwanda and Somalia. Egypt announced at the OAU conference in May 1997 that it no longer exported APMs, but it has not confirmed the statement in writing. There are no details available on its stockpile. German, Italian and British forces used landmines in the Western Desert (El Alamein, Rommel's Devil's Garden), and Egyptian and Israeli forces used them in the Eastern Desert. Egypt is one of the most seriously affected countries in terms of landmines. In May 1999 the UN proposed sending a team to assess the landmine problem in Egypt, and is waiting for an answer from the Egyptian authorities. According to governmental sources, there are 22,7 million landmines (one mine for every three citizens) and 288,000 hectares are contaminated. Egypt has asked the international community for financial support ($200 million). The UN has requested Western countries responsible for El Alamein to contribute $142 million, and the Egyptian government would pay an additional $50 million. Germany has provided some equipment, the UK has offered $145,000 and the US $1,5 million. It seems that the British have provided information on maps and types of mines laid. In December 1997 the Egyptian government asked the WEU for its help in a specific de-mining project; in May 1998, the WEU denied the request and provided information about demining national actions, offering to co-ordinate national contributions to Egypt. Egypt has four national military demining battalions (480 troops). Mines move due to weather conditions and World War II antitank mines have degraded and act as APM mines. There is a need for an awareness campaign, including better minefield marking and media advertising. Some NGOs have made efforts to increase awareness, such as the Landmines Struggle Centre in 1997 and Egyptian Campaign to Ban Landmines in 1998. In February 1999 the Egyptian Army stated that landmines have claimed 8,313 casualties, of which 696 were fatalities.


Israel did not sign the Ottawa Convention, although it attended the Ottawa conference as an observer. The government states that it needs APMs for self-defence, to protect civilians threatened by terrorists and Israeli forces operating in areas of armed conflict. Israel is a party of the CCW, but has not ratified the Amended Protocol II. Israel stated in 1998 that it had ceased production of APMs. In 1994 it instituted a two-year moratorium on exports, renewed in 1996 for three years. In the past it was a significant producer and exporter to Argentina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nigeria and Zaire. Details of the stockpile are not available. It has used APMs in combat and for border protection (Jordan and Syria, the Occupied Territories and South Lebanon). There are an estimated 260,000 mines in Israel. There is no information available on systematic mine clearance or mine awareness programs. Israel has considerable expertise in demining and has offered assistance to some countries, such as Angola. There have been landmine casualties in the Golan Heights, West Bank and other areas.


Jordan signed the Ottawa Convention on 11 August 1998 and ratified it on 13 November 1998. It was an active participant in the preparatory meetings for the treaty, endorsed the pro-ban treaty Brussels Declaration in June 1997 and participated in the Oslo negotiations. Jordan has yet to enact domestic implementation legislation. Jordan is not a party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons. According to governmental sources, Jordan is not an antipersonnel landmine producing country. Jordan imported landmines in the past from the United States, Belgium and the United Kingdom. It maintains a stockpile of landmines, but details are unknown. The Armed Forces have used landmines for defensive purposes in the past, but has not laid new mine fields since 1973. Jordan is one of the most affected countries in Middle East. One document from the US Corps of Engineers, in February 1999, estimates the number of mines at 303,431. Other estimates (US State Department) are lower. There are some 492 minefields, in the Jordan valley and along the Israeli and Syrian borders. Israel also laid 66,219 mines in the Wadi Araba area. Norway, the US and Canada have supported Jordan's demining programs. In December 1997 Jordan made a request to the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) for financial or material support. The US Corps of Engineers undertakes mine clearance. In 1993 King Hussein started demining programs. Military sources confirm that all mine areas are well marked to alert civilians. Awareness campaigns were launched in the past via the media and schools and supported by the ICRC, the US Corps of Engineers and NGOs. The Armed Forces report that 400 civilians have been killed and several thousands injured by mines, including 176 military personnel since 1967. Ministry of Health hospitals and Royal Medical Services provide landmine Survivor Assistance.


Lebanon has not signed the Ottawa Convention. Government representatives have stated that Lebanon cannot sign any treaty that has negative implications for national resistance against Israel "and that any treaty must contain items taking into consideration the self-defence principle, and the state of the occupied territories". Lebanon did not sign the treatybecause of the Israeli occupation of West Bekaa and South Lebanon. In February 1999 the "Regional Conference on the Menace of Landmines in the Arab Countries" took place in Beirut, with representatives from the non-governmental Landmines Resource Centre in collaboration with the Lebanese Army, and was financially supported by Canada, Norway, the UK and the ICBL. The Conference sought to begin developing collaboration and coordination among various parties on issues related to landmines and their eventual elimination. Lebanon is a non-signatory of the CCW. Lebanon is not a producer or exporter of AP mines. During the civil war it imported mines from different countries, such as the United States. Details of the stockpile are unknown. Non-state actors in Lebanon have used mines and improvised explosive devices, both of local manufacture and from external sources. According to the UN, there are 8,795 landmines, but estimates go to 35,000, in some 182 minefields. In the February 1999 Conference, the Army estimated that there were 681 minefields containing 28,508 mines, with another 868 suspected minefields containing 28,500 mines, excluding the Israeli-occupied areas. The Army is exclusively responsible for carrying out mine clearance. The US Department of Defence provides support for the creation of a National Demining Office in the Lebanese Army, including training, equipment and operational costs. The French Army has also provided technical assistance. The number of trained professionals is inadequate and there are limited material resources. Mine awareness was very low until the World Rehabilitation Fund project was established in June 1998. This has resulted in an increase in the number, scope and coverage of mine awareness activities implemented with NGO's and community leaders. Data on landmine casualties is very incomplete. According to a survey of the Ministry of Health, more than 35 per cent of individuals in need of prosthetic and orthotic devices and services are survivors of landmine injuries. Programmes to assist survivors, families of victims and mine-affected communities are scarce. Governmental funds are very limited. First aid and emergency care are not readily available, particularly in rural areas.


Libya has not signed the Ottawa Convention. Governmental representatives have stated that "the instrument should address the question of demining" and that Libya requires technical assistance for demining efforts". Libya is not a member of the CCW. Libya is not considered a producer or exporter of AP mines. It has imported mines from the former Soviet Union. Its stockpile is unknown. Libya planted landmines during its 1977 war with Egypt and from 1977 to 1987 in its conflict with Chad. Libya has used AP mines for perimeter defence in economically important sites and military bases. There are mined areas in the regions south of the Sahara and in Benghazi, and also in the Gulf of Sidra and along Libya's borders with Egypt and countries to the south. The US State Department claims that there are approximately 100,000 landmines, mostly from World War II. The Armed Forces have carried out some demining, but lack of maps and technical expertise has hampered efforts. Some mines have been removed from the Benghazi region as well as from the Sahara. Libya signed an agreement with Italy in 1997 on demining, rehabilitation of affected areas and the training of specialists. Libya has reported 11,845 landmine victims, including 6,749 deaths.


Malta has signed but not yet ratified the Ottawa Treaty. It is a part of the CCW but has not ratified the Amended Protocol II. It does not possess, produce, transfer or use AP mines and is not mine-affected. It has donated funds to UN agencies.


Morocco has not signed the Ottawa Convention. It is not a member of the CCW. It does not produce or export AP mines. It has imported from Italy, Spain, Russia, France and the US. No details on the stockpile are available. There are some 200,000 landmines in Morocco, mostly in the South and in Western Sahara. There are no governmental programs on mine clearance There have been limited efforts to survey mark and clear mines and UXO. In March 1999, Morocco accepted a proposal from MINURSO to begin mine removal in the Moroccan-held territory in the Western Sahara. The UN Mine Action Service has identified the Western Sahara as a priority for Level 1 Survey to identify contaminated areas and associated socio-economic impact to determine demining and victim assistance priorities and resource needs. There are no details available, except for isolated mine accidents, on landmine casualties


The PNA does not have the international legal status to sign or ratify international treaties. The PNA has not made any statements with regard to the Ottawa Convention or a landmine ban. The problem of landmines or unexploded devices has not been discussed in the peace negotiations with Israel. The number of landmines is unknown. Landmine and UXO (unexploded ordnance or devices) occur frequently in the Palestinian territories, producing tens of victims annually. Mines were laid during the British Mandate or by the Jordanian army before the 1967 war. After the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Israel has not attempted to clear those minefields that are located in the centre of the West Bank. The majority of minefields are located in areas under the Israeli security authority (zones B and C). Other than these fields, some reports assess that there other minefields located along the border areas between Jordan and the West Bank, near Allenby Bridge and Abdullah Bridge and on the sides of main roads in the Jordan Valley that lead to Jerusalem and Nablus. Mine clearance requires international technical assistance, training, equipment and funding. Palestinian NGOs are working to develop a comprehensive mine action program to raise awareness and create interest from local institutions. The Defence for Children/Palestine Section implemented a project in March 1999 and other foreign organizations addressed to the rural population of the West Bank. According to a study by the Defence for Children International/Palestine Section, carried out in 1998, since the beginning of Israeli occupation in 1967 there have been more than 2,500 landmine and UXO victims. As far as landmine survivor assistance is concerned, there is an absence of effective health insurance systems. There are some rehabilitation services, but they do not cover all areas and their capacity to deal with serious cases is limited.


Syria has not signed the Ottawa Convention and is a strong defender of the continued need for antipersonnel mines. It has stated that AP mines are an important weapon of defence against Israel. It is not a member of the CCW. Syria is not known to have produced or exported AP mines. It has imported large numbers of AP mines, but details are not available and there is no information available on its stockpile. Minefields have been laid in areas adjacent to the UN buffer zone. The Golan Heights are heavily mined with unmarked and unmapped minefields. The landmines found are from Russian, Czech, French and US origin.


Tunisia has signed and ratified the Ottawa Convention, but has not deposited its instrument of ratification with the United Nations. It is a member of the CCW but has not ratified Protocol II of 1996. Tunisia is not a landmine producer or exporter. It has imported landmines from Italy, France, Yugoslavia and the UK. Details of the stockpile are not available. Following the Inter-Maghreb Seminar on anti-personnel landmines in Tunis in January 1999, the Tunisian Defence Ministry announced that it would begin destroying its stock of mines. There are some regions known to be infested with mines, including areas near Kasserine, Sbitla, Sidi Bouzid and Marit, in West and Central Tunisia, and also some areas in the North. Most of the mines were laid during World War II. There is no comprehensive assessment of the extent of the landmine problem or the number of casualties that have occurred. The army is developing educational programs. The Arab Institute for Human Rights has plans to begin training instructors to educate civilian population.


Turkey has not signed the Ottawa Treaty and is not a member of the CCW. Both the Turkish Armed Forces and the PKK forces during their armed conflict have used AP mines. Turkey is a landmine producer but not an exporter. It has imported landmines from the United States. Turkey has used landmines in its border regions with Syria, Iran and Iraq, but there are no charts available for many of the minefields. The PKK uses mines against the Armed Forces, particularly on roads travelled by military personnel in the South-east. It is extremely difficult to determine who lays mines and where. Landmine casualties in this region are common. Turkey has not contributed to UN agency mine action programs. However, it has contributed to mine clearance in Bosnia-Herzegovina and has also offered to provide mine clearance assistance to Egypt.

Summary of the country-by-country report

European Union

APM Production and Export

All European Union countries, except Greece, have stopped production of AP mines. Turkey is still a producer. No country is believed to be engaged in AP exports.

APM Stockpiles

The biggest stockpiles are those of Italy (7 million), Sweden (3 Million), the UK (850,000), France (650,000) and Spain (595,000). Destruction is underway or in the planning stage. Greece may also have a significant stockpile, but no plans for destruction are yet in place. In recent years, millions of mines have been destroyed by Germany, France, Belgium, the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark and Austria. Austria, Belgium, Germany and Luxemburg have completed the destruction of their operational stocks of AP mines. The US has stockpiles in several nations, which have signed the Ottawa Convention: Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and the UK.

Landmine Problem and Mine Action

Cyprus, Greece and Turkey are mine-affected countries. Some countries are still suffering from mines and unexploded devices from Word War II, notably Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxemburg. Some of the top seventeen donors are from this region, including Sweden, the UK, Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy, Finland, Belgium, Austria and Ireland. The European Union has committed itself to mine action world-wide to support demining programs, assistance to mine victims, and research and development of technology on mine detection and clearance. Currently, large-scale European Union humanitarian mine clearance programs are underway in Bosnia and Croatia. There are no mine action programs in any Mediterranean country.

Mediterranean partner-states

APM use

AP mines have been extensively used in the region. Some reports confirm new use in 1988 and 1999 in Southern Lebanon and in Southeastern Turkey.

APM Production and Export

Egypt and Israel are producers and exporters. Israel stated in 1997 that it no longer produced AP mines and has a formal moratorium in place. Egypt has declared that it no longer exports such weapons. Not a single country in the region has divulged details about their stockpiles. The biggest are probably those of Egypt, Israel and Syria.

Landmine problem and mine action

All countries have a landmine problem. Affected nations where some mine clearance occurs are Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. However, the landmine problem of those countries is too great for their financial resources and technical know-how. Moreover, the landmines issue affects the populations and thus has a humanitarian dimension, as well as constraining economic development.


5. Policy orientations

5.1 General considerations

- The landmines issue in the Mediterranean has to be tackled from a humanitarian approach which may both help to solve the problem and build confidence amongst partners, in the political, cultural and social fields, as proposed by the Palermo ministerial meeting of June 1999.

- Nevertheless, the landmine issues has a military component which should not be neglected, since some countries still consider landmines as part of their military posture. It is true that the existence of sub-regional conflict makes it premature to consider landmines as part of broader Confidence-Building Measures which could perform structural functions in the field of arms limitation and control. However, it is possible to consider them as part of a long term Euro-Mediterranean policy in this field.

- Thus, despite these constraints, the landmines issue could be considered a broad Partnership-Building Measure designed to strengthen partnership, interaction and mutual trust. In the short-term it could be considered a humanitarian and political undertaking which should involve the intergovernmental level as well as other state institutions, international organizations and societies.

- Humanitarian mine action needs a comprehensive approach, which must include survey assessment, mine clearance, mine awareness and victim assistance. It needs both the financial support of governments from the affected countries and from the international community, including research on mine clearance technology and methods; it also has to support the principle of transfer of capacity to the affected countries.

5.2. Proposals

5.2.1 Short run

Survey assessment and mine clearance:

- There is a need to create a EuroMediterranean Landmines and Demining Database, in coordination with other initiatives in this field (such as the United Nations database and the Mine Clearance Management Module of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre at Ispra) with information provided by governments, NGO's and other institutions on types of landmines, detection mechanisms, mine clearance operations, landmines destruction, which could be shared by all partners. It should also take into account other initiatives, as the WEUDAM Mines Information System in Croatia. The development of this database could be extremely helpful at the organizational and operational levels in mine clearance operations.

- There is a need to draw the attention of landmine producers and of governments who use them for defensive purposes to the dramatic consequences of some designs which create confusion (landmines designed as toys) and produce casualties (specially children) and of the need to produce designs which are clearly visible and detectable.

- The European Union could conduct or support demining operations in response to specific requests, under an ad hoc team funded by the MEDA financial programmes. To that end, the European Union and/or its member countries should especially take into account the degree of European responsibility for the landmine problem in some Mediterranean countries.

- The European Union could contribute financially and technically to the creation and training of demining teams and to the use of demining techniques in affected countries. These, in turn, should acquire the ability to collaborate in demining other areas with landmine problems.

- The Euro-Mediterranean partners could jointly conduct or collaborate in mine clearing operations in areas other than the Mediterranean, as both a measure of solidarity towards others and as a mechanism to exchange information and generate mutual trust.

Mine awareness:

- The best method of creating mine awareness would be through direct contact with affected communities and would include:

- NGO training, with the help of international NGOs with long experience in the field.

- Increase awareness of children (schools campaigns) and women (NGOs and ICRC)

- Government campaigns in mine field marking and media advertising

Victim assistance:

- This should include emergency medial care, surgery, physical and psychological rehabilitation, as well as returning victims to economic productivity. In that sense, there is a need for:

- Support for the training of specialised medical teams and the creation of medical centres for civilians, which, in turn, could participate in assistance to casualties of other regions.

- Support for the creation of specialised manufacturers of prosthetics adapted to geography.

Landmines and Development:

- Given the situation in most affected countries, there is a need to link the need for demining to the creation of development poles in different economic sectors (as agriculture or tourism) and in improving other basic services (schools and hospitals). The identification of specific "demining areas for development" should lead to a set of actions which run from the construction of roads and the re-utilization of demining infrastructure for civilian purposes (specially military vehicles) to irrigation, natural resources exploitation or other projects.

Declaratory policy:

- There should be a declaratory policy statement from the Euro-Mediterranean partners in the form of a Mediterranean Landmines Free Zone, jointly, individually or through other regional organizations (such as the Arab League) or national institutions (Parliaments, NGOs), committing the partners to cease further use of AP mines. This could be a significant initiative. Furthermore, funds for mine clearance interventions should be allocated to countries whose authorities cease further use of AP mines, take steps to cease the trade, manufacture and stockpiling of AP mines and undertake to support the proposed mine actions.

5.2.2. Long run

- Make realistic proposals to ban landmines and redefine what the term "antipersonnel landmine" really means. One of the reasons for current criticism of the Ottawa Convention is that it defines the concept of antipersonnel landmine too narrowly and may be of little use in some contexts where other types of mines have deteriorated and effectively operate as landmines. Secondly, the ratification of the Convention and the subsequent control mechanisms it imposes on members - especially the timetable for destruction - makes extremely difficult for countries with severe landmine problems to accomplish its terms unless they have access to significant financial resources .

- Explore possibilities of a policy of "landmines substitution" which could assure similar levels of security in areas where landmines are used for deterrent purposes. This could pave the way for a policy of arms limitation and control in the Euro-Mediterranean area.

- Work is in progress towards the goal of creating a Landmines Free Zone in the Euro-Mediterranean area (Landmines Free Zone Treaty). To achieve this end there is a need for the comprehensive clearing of landmines in the region which must involve helping the affected states to achieve these objectives.



- Ahmed Ibrahim MAHMOUD (1999) "The problem of landmines in Egypt", 14 p.

- Lucía ALONSO OLLACARIZQUETA (1995) Enemigos invisibles, campos de la muerte. Las minas antipersonal", Informe del Centro de Investigaciones para la Paz y del Seminario de Investigación para la Paz, n. 13, 1995, 26 pp.

- Lucía ALONSO OLLACARIZQUETA (1998) Las minas antipersonal, Madrid: Anuario CIP 1998, pp. 149-158.

-David C. ATWOOD (1998) "Tackling the problem of anti-personnel landmines: issues and developments", Working Paper produced by the GCSP research project: Cluster of Competence on Arms Control and Disarmament, 17 p., (

- Philippe CHABASSE (1998) "Mines antipersonnel: Les défis au lendemain d'Ottawa", Revue des Questions Humanitaires, n. 1, Printemps.

- "Conference on Global Humanitarian Demining", For Your Information, May 21, 1998. U.S. Embassy in Madrid

- Council Decision of 28 November 1997 on the implementation of Joint Action 96/588/CFSP on anti-personnel landmines with a view to co-financing the special appeals from the ICRC (97/818/CFSP), Official Journal of the European Communities, 9 December 1997.

- Council Decision of 28 November 1997 on the implementation of the Joint Action 96/588/CFSP on anti-personnel landmines with a view to contributing to the funding of certain programmes of the SADC and the ICRC (97/819/CFSP), Official Journal of the European Communities, 9 December 1997.

- Council Decisions of 9 November 1998, adopted on the basis of Article J.3 of the Treaty of the European Union concerning specific action of the Union in the field of assistance to mine clearance (98/627/CFSP and 98/628/CFSP), Official Journal of the European Communities, 11-11-98.

- Joint Action of 28 November 1997 adopted by the Council on the basis of Article J.3 of the Treaty of the European Union, on antipersonnel mines (97/817/CFSP), Official Journal of the European Communities, 9-12-97.

- Landmine Monitor, Report 1999, International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Landmine Monitor Core Group (Human Rights Watch, Handicap International, Kenya Coalition Against Landmines, Mine Actions Canada, Norwegian People's Aid), 1999

- Bernard MIYET (1997) "Les Nations unies et la lutte contre les mines antipersonnel: au-delà d'Ottawa", Politique Étrangère, 4.

- Harald MÜLLER, Simon WISOTZKI, Alexander KELLER (1997) "Verification: between the desirable and the feasible", The elimination of landmines, UNIDIR Special Issue 3, p. 15-19.

- Alois J. SIEBER, John T. DEAN (1997) "The Joint Research Centre: a centre or excellence to support humanitarian mine clearance", The elimination of landmines, UNIDIR Special Issue 3, p. 30-36

- UNIDIR Newsletter, no. 28/29, Dec. 1994/May 1995

- "U.S. leads in land mine removals while others talk", Defense Issues, Vol. 12, no. 47, US Department of Defence, 1997

- Geoffrey VAN ORDEN, Thierry VAN DER PYL, Graham SIMS. Alois J. SIEBER (1997) "The EC's initiatives in support of humanitarian demining", The elimination of landmines, UNIDIR Special Issue 3, p. 21-26

- Geoffrey VAN ORDEN, Robert COX (1997) "The European Union's role in overcoming the tragedy of anti-personnel landmines", The elimination of landmines, UNIDIR Special Issue 3, p. 26-29.

- Jacques VERMOREL (1998) "Sciences et techniques de déminage", Défense Nationale, décembre, p. 120-131.


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