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Mines Retained – What Are They Used For?

The Mine Ban Treaty allows States Parties to keep or transfer antipersonnel mines for training and research in mine clearance (Article 3). The number of mines retained should "not exceed the minimum number absolutely necessary", which the ICBL believes should be in the hundreds or thousands or less, but not tens of thousands. In fact, we encourage States Parties to keep none at all, since training and research do not necessarily depend on using live mines.

States retaining mines should declare the intended purposes and actual uses of these mines. States that retain antipersonnel mines and do not use any of these mines for permitted purposes abuse the exception permitted by Article 3.

States Parties need to take a closer look at how Article 3 is being implemented, and to carefully consider if there are compliance matters to address. The ICBL is concerned that:

  • Some States Parties have yet to use their retained mines for either training or development purposes; the mines are simply sitting in storage.
  • Some States Parties are retaining mines when they do not have active demining, training, or development programs.
  • Many States Parties have not provided sufficient detail and justification for their requirement to retain any mines, or a certain number of mines.
  • Many States Parties have not undertaken a detailed process to determine the minimum number of mines needed.
  • Some States Parties maintain that they are using retained mines for training or development purposes, but the number of retained mines does not change from year to year, indicating none of those mines are consumed (destroyed), contrary to the experience of many other states engaged in those activities.
  • Many States Parties provide inadequate and inconsistent information about retained mines in their annual Article 7 transparency reports.
  • Too few States Parties are using the expanded Article 7 Form D agreed to at the Sixth Meeting of States Parties to facilitate reporting on the intended purposes and actual uses of retained mines.

The ICBL continues to question the need for live antipersonnel mines for training and calls on States Parties to continue to evaluate the necessity for this exception, especially for those states that have not used mines for permitted purposes in prior years.

The ICBL urges all States Parties that retain mines under Article 3 to adopt the following best practices in order to ensure that the exception granted for retaining antipersonnel mines is not being misused:

  • Use the expanded format of Form D for annual transparency reporting.
  • Declare the intended purposes and actual uses of antipersonnel mines retained under Article 3 in statements made at Meetings of States Parties, intersessional Standing Committee meetings, or in communications with Landmine Monitor.
  • Carry out a detailed evaluation of the precise number of antipersonnel mines needed for specific activities. Provide the justification for why and the method how a particular number was arrived at.
  • Regularly re-evaluate the number of retained mines to ensure that it is the minimum number absolutely necessary for permitted purposes.
  • Reduce the number of retained mines to a level consistent with an annual requirement for live mines actually being used in training and research activities.
  • Explore available alternatives to using live mines for training and research activities.
  • Do not retain any antipersonnel mines as a contingency for possible future needs, as opposed to demonstrated current needs.