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Last Updated: 29 November 2014

Mine Ban Policy

Mine ban policy overview

Mine Ban Treaty status

State Party

National implementation measures

National implementation legislation, Law 759, came into effect on 25 July 2002

Article 7 reporting

Submitted in 2014 covering calendar year 2013


The Republic of Colombia signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified on 6 September 2000, becoming a State Party on 1 March 2001.

National implementation legislation, Law 759, came into effect on 25 July 2002.[1] In relation to the Mine Ban Treaty, Colombia has also passed laws on victim assistance, land restitution, and civilian humanitarian demining operations. Law 1421 of 2010 permits NGOs to conduct humanitarian demining operations in the country.[2] On 13 July 2011, the Colombian Presidential Program for Comprehensive Mine Action (Programa Presidencial de Acción Integral Contra Minas Antipersonales, PAICMA) published the draft regulatory decree of Law 1421.[3] Law 3750 of 10 October 2011 regulates demining by civil society organizations.[4]

Colombia submitted its 14th Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report in April 2014, which covered calendar year 2013.[5] Under national implementation measures, it stated that activities addressed by the treaty were criminalized by the penal code and said it had “nothing new to report.”[6]

Colombia has continued its activity in support of the Mine Ban Treaty at the highest levels. It hosted the Second Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty in Cartagena in November–December 2009. It attended the Third Review Conference in Maputo, Mozambique in June 2014 as well as the First Review Conference in Nairobi, Kenya in 2004. Colombia has participated in every Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, including the Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in December 2012. It has also attended almost all of the intersessional Standing Committee meetings held in Geneva since 1999, including in April 2014.

Colombia served as co-chair of the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance and Socio-Economic Reintegration in 2002–2003 and co-chaired the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education, and Mine Action Technologies in 2011.

Colombia is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II on landmines, but has never submitted a CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 annual report.

The Colombian Campaign against Landmines (Campaña Colombiana contra Minas, CCCM) works to address the country’s extensive landmine problem.[7] It has called on the government to use military demining teams to clear coca crops because civilians employed by the Colombian government to eradicate the crops have become casualties due to explosive devices.[8]

In January 2014, Vice President Angelino Garzon called on Colombia’s principle armed group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo, FARC) as well as the National Liberation Army (Unión Camilista-Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN) to stop using landmines.[9]

On 4 April 2014, thousands of people in the different cities of the country joined the annual Remangate (“Roll-up”) action, first organized by Fundación Arcangeles in 2011, which involves people making the symbolic gesture of rolling up a pant leg in support of efforts against landmines and in solidarity with victims. President Juan Manuel Santos rolled up his pants during a meeting with victims of violence and Vice President Garzón and the secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, also joined the campaign.[10]

In 2012, Colombian music star Juanes joined a high-level group supporting universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty.[11]

Production, transfer, use, and stockpiling

Colombia’s State Military Industry (Industria Militar, INDUMIL) ceased production of antipersonnel mines in September 1998 and destroyed its production equipment on 18 November 1999.[12]

The government of Colombia is not known to have ever exported antipersonnel mines.

Colombia reported completion of the destruction of its stockpile of 18,531 antipersonnel mines on 24 October 2004.[13]

Colombia has retained the same number of mines for training purposes since 2007. It declared a total of 586 MAP-1 mines retained for training purposes in its 2009 Article 7 report and has not provided a number in subsequent reports, but has instead declared “no change in the quantity of retained antipersonnel mines.”[14]

Colombia last destroyed or consumed mines in training activities in 2006, when 300 retained mines were destroyed in three separate events.[15]

Colombia has not reported in detail on the intended purposes and actual uses of its retained mines, as agreed by States Parties, but in 2011 Colombia informed the Monitor that the mines were “used for training the humanitarian demining units [of the armed forces], in the use of equipment for mine clearance.”[16]

Antipersonnel mines discovered during mine clearance are destroyed on site and not kept for training purposes.[17]

Transfer and production by non-state armed groups

In the past, there were reports of mines being transferred in illegal weapons shipments to non-state armed groups (NSAGs) in Colombia, but not since 2003.

NSAGs in Colombia are experts in the production of explosive devices. Both FARC and the ELN manufacture antipersonnel mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that are both victim-activated and remotely-controlled.

Colombia’s Article 7 reports contain information on mines produced by NSAGs by type, dimensions, fuzing, explosive type and content, and metallic content; the reports also include photographs and additional information. Twelve different design types are manufactured which include antipersonnel, antivehicle, and Claymore-type directional mines, as well as IEDs. The military states that the mines are sometimes fitted with antihandling devices.[18]

Use by non-state armed groups

FARC has continued to use antipersonnel mines and IEDs on a regular basis.[19] Government forces continued to recover mines from the ELN, which has been documented as an antipersonnel mine user. [20] In the past decade, paramilitary forces have also used antipersonnel mines, most notably the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia until its disbandment in 2006.[21]

FARC is probably the most prolific user of antipersonnel mines among rebel groups anywhere in the world. Peace talks between the government of Colombia and FARC continued in Havana in the first half of 2014. The CCCM has called for a special agreement to be reached to demine areas along Colombia’s border areas and southern provinces where the fighting with FARC has been most intense.[22]

Colombian NSAGs lay mines near their campsites or bases, on other paths that lead to areas of strategic importance (such as paths to main transit routes along mountain ridges) and to protect caches of explosives, weapons, medicine, and clothing.[23] NSAGs, predominantly FARC, also plant antipersonnel mines in or near coca fields to prevent eradication efforts, causing casualties among coca eradicators.[24]

The areas of Colombia where armed conflict has been intense and landmines have been planted often coincide with areas from which internally displaced persons (IDPs) fled and to which they are now seeking to return. In September 2013, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that, according to the Ministry of Agriculture’s Land Restitution Unit, the government has recorded landmine incidents in approximately 70% of the municipalities where IDPs have filed land restitution claims.[25]

In July 2014, a HRW report on serious rights violations committed by FARC guerrillas in attacks on the Pacific port city of Tumaco confirmed more than 120 new victims of landmines since 2011, more than in any other municipality in Colombia.[26]

Media reports and statements by the armed forces show how NSAGs continued to use landmines in 2014 despite ongoing peace talks, while the Colombian Army has continued to recover mines from FARC and the ELN in its operations.

In July 2014, three Colombian soldiers were killed by landmines reportedly placed by FARC forces in Norte de Santander department.[27] In April 2014, a Colombian soldier was killed and 13 wounded when their convoy hit a mine on a road between the towns of Tibu and El Tarra in the Catatumbo area of Norte de Santander.[28]

In February 2014, a civilian was killed by a suspected FARC landmine in the Yarumal region of Antioquia department.[29]

In March 2014, FARC militants allegedly placed landmines near voting stations in the Solano area of Caquetá department.[30] Also in March, landmines reportedly used by FARC wounded two farmers in Acandi in Choco department.[31]

In June 2014, Colombian forces reported the discovery and destruction of a FARC arms cache of 660 pounds of explosives, as well as an IED “minefield” and 1,000 non-electric detonators.[32]

In July, 1,500 landmines were reportedly seized from a FARC weapons cache.[33] Colombian forces reported the capture of 76 landmines from FARC forces in September 2014.[34]

In October 2014, several tons of IED-making equipment was seized in the municipality of Ricaurte in Nariño department, including explosives and detonators.[35] An October 2014 raid by Colombian forces on an ELN training camp reportedly recovered 86 “booby trap” mines and various other mine components.[36] Four victim-activated explosive devices reportedly laid by FARC guerrillas were found in trees in Huila department in the south of the country in September 2014, a practice first reported in 2012.[37]

Incidents of FARC and ELN landmines were also reported in 2013, including the army’s discovery of two weapons caches containing a total of 7,345 antipersonnel mines in the municipality of Albania in the Caquetá department in April.[38]


[1] For details on penal sanctions and other aspects of Law 759, see Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form A, 6 May 2005; and Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 255.

[2] Statement of Colombia, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 20 June 2011.

[3] Presentación borradores de los documentos del decreto reglamentario de la Ley 1421 de 2010 y Estándares Nacionales de Desminado Humanitario” (“Presentation of draft documents of the Decree Law 1421 of 2010 and National Standards for Humanitarian Demining”), 15 July 2011.

[4] Ministry of Defense, “Decreto Número 3750 de 2011” (“Decree Number 3750 of 2011”), 10 October 2011.

[5] Previous reports were submitted in April 2013, on 25 April 2012, 30 April 2011, 30 April 2010, 30 April 2009, in April 2008, in April 2007, and on 29 June 2006, 6 May 2005, 11 May 2004, 27 May 2003, 6 August 2002, and 15 March 2002.

[6] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, April 2014, Form A.

[7] CCCM was established in 2000 and has local sections in 22 of the 32 departments of Colombia.

[8] Anastasia Moloney, “Colombia’s coca clearers face landmine danger,” Alertnet, 30 November 2011.

[10]Colombia se 'remangó' por víctimas de minas,” El Tiempo, 4 April 2014.

[11] Mine Ban Convention Implementation Support Unit Press Release, “International music superstar Juanes joins high level push to ban landmines,” 25 May 2012.

[12] Interviews with Eng. Sergio Rodríguez, Second Technical Manager, INDUMIL, 5 July 2000, and 24 July 2001. As of 2001, INDUMIL was still producing Claymore-type directional fragmentation mines. Colombia has stated that these mines are used only in command-detonated mode, as permitted by the Mine Ban Treaty. However, Colombia has not reported on steps it has taken to ensure that these mines are used only in command-detonated mode.

[13] In addition to these 18,531 mines destroyed, the government has reported three other destructions of a total of 3,404 antipersonnel mines. Over the years, there have been many inconsistencies and discrepancies in Colombia’s count of stockpiled mines and their destruction. The Ministry of Defense sent a letter to the Monitor in September 2005 to clarify many of the problems. For details, see Landmine Monitor Report 2006, p. 302.

[14] “Colombia no reporta novedad con respecto al informe anterior” (“Colombia does not report any change with respect to the previous report”), Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form D, April 2013.

[15] In 2003 and 2004, Colombia reported it retained 986 mines for training. It reduced that number to 886 in 2005 when it decided the larger number was not necessary. It destroyed 300 more mines in 2006 (100 each in March, September, and December), but the number has not changed since December 2006. See Landmine Monitor Report 2007, pp. 267–268; and Landmine Monitor Report 2006, pp. 302–303.

[16] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Amb. Alicia Arango Olmos, Permanent Mission of Colombia to the UN in Geneva, 13 May 2011.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Presentation by the Colombian Armed Forces, “Desarrollo Compromiso con la Convención de Ottawa” (“Development Commitment with the Ottawa Convention”), Bogotá, 6 March 2006. Antipersonnel mines and IEDs manufactured by armed groups are constructed out of everything from glass bottles to plastic jerry cans. The explosive used is normally ANFO (made from fertilizer), but sometimes is a conventional explosive such as TNT. The mines are initiated by pressure-activated syringe fuzes (chemical initiation), battery-operated fuzes, and electric fuzes activated by both pressure and tripwires. These mines often have high levels of metal fragmentation in them.

[20]In August 2012, the ELN again called for peace talks with the government, but the vice president stated that the ELN should halt mine use before commencing peace talks.  La guerrilla tiene una deuda moral con la población civil colombiana: Angelino Garzón” (“The guerrilla has a moral debt to the civilian population of Colombia: Angelino Garzón”), Emisora del Ejército de Colombia (army radio), 29 August 2012; and Luis Jaime Acosta and Helen Murphy, “Colombia's ELN rebels offer peace talks, refuse ceasefire first,” Reuters Canada, 27 August 2012.

[21] The Monitor has not seen reports of mine use by paramilitaries since 2006. See Landmine Monitor Report 2006, p. 300; Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 264; and Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 324.

[23] Email from Matthew Hovell, Programme Manager, HALO Trust, 14 April 2010.

[24] See, for example, Chris Kraul, “Land mines take a toll on Colombia’s poor,” Los Angeles Times, 6 March 2010; CCCM, “Problemática de los erradicadores manuals de cultivos ilícitos víctimas de minas antipersonal” (“Problem of illicit manual crop eradicators landmine victims”), June 2011; and “Landmine injures 12 coca eradicators,” Colombia Reports, 7 October 2011.

[25] HRW telephone interviews with Restitution Unit official, 16 January 2013, and 8 March 2013; “Los grandes desafíos” (The greatest challenges”), Semana (magazine), undated; and HRW, “Colombia: The Risk of Returning Home,” September 2013.

[26] HRW Press Release, “Colombia: FARC Battering Afro-Colombian Areas,” 30 July 2014.

[27]3 Colombian soldiers killed by rebel land mines,” Fox News Latino, 2 July 2014.

[28] “Landmine attack kills soldier in Colombia’s Norte de Santander,” Janes Terrorism Watch Report, 23 April 2014.

[29] “Landmine attack kills civilian in Colombia’s Antioquia,” Janes Terrorism Watch Report, 3 February 2014.

[30] “Suspected FARC militants plant land mines near voting booths in Colombia's Caqueta,” Janes Terrorism Watch Report, 10 March 2014.

[31] “Landmines attack wounds two farmers in Colombia’s Choco,” Janes Terrorism Watch Report, 20 March 2014.

[32] Colombian Army destroys ‘FARC’ explosives caches,” Colombia Reports, 17 June 2014.

[34]Military kills 6 ‘FARC guerrillas’ in central Colombia,” Colombia Reports, 12 September 2014.

[36]Army troops discover ELN bomb factory in northern Colombia,” Colombia Reports, 6 October 2014.

[37]Tree bombs – The FARC’s new war tactic?Colombia Reports, 30 September 2014.

[38] In the first cache, 2,345 antipersonnel mines were discovered; 5,000 in the second. Both caches were found within five days of each other. See “Putumayo tendrá centro de rehabilitacion para victimas de minas antipersonal” (“Putumayo will have a rehabilitation center for victims of antipersonnel mines”), La F.M., 27 May 2013; and “Ejército halló y destruye 5,000 minas antipersonal de las Farc” (“The Army found and destroys 5,000 antipersonnel mines from the FARC”), La F.M., 10 May 2013.