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Last Updated: 14 September 2014

Mine Action

Contamination and Impact

Overall Mine Action Performance: AVERAGE[1]

Performance Indicator


Problem understood


Target date for completion of clearance


Targeted clearance


Efficient clearance


National funding of program


Timely clearance


Land release system


National mine action standards


Reporting on progress


Improving performance




The Republic of Colombia’s mine and explosive remnants of war (ERW) problem is the result of decades of conflict with non-state armed groups (NSAGs). The precise extent of contamination remains unclear, though the national database contains information that at least 30 of the 32 departments may have a mine threat. The most affected departments are believed to be Antioquia, Arauca, Caquetá, Cauca, Meta, Nariño, Norte de Santander, Putumayo, and Tolima.[2]

In 2013, the Presidential Program for Comprehensive Mine Action (Programa Presidencial para la Acción Integral contra Minas Antipersonal, PAICMA) received reports of 2,672 “events.”[3] These events occurred in 28 departments.[4] Antioquia and Meta made up almost one-third of the 2013 total. Each event is recorded in the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) database at PAICMA, which continues to undergo clean-up. By the end of 2013, half of the database entries had been cleaned up.[5]

Colombia has stated that all existing mines and minefields laid by the Colombian Armed Forces prior to entry into force of the Mine Ban Treaty were cleared before its initial Article 5 deadline of 1 March 2011.[6] Remaining contamination is due to mine laying by NSAGs whose continued and irregular use of improvised devices makes it very difficult to obtain an accurate picture of contamination.[7] Grant Salisbury, HALO Trust’s Program Manager for Colombia, has commented that “Colombia is the first country that we’ve worked in, indeed the first country that I know of, where all the mines used are improvised (explosive devices) – every other country where we work, the vast majority of mines come from state factories.”[8]

The possibility of conducting survey is limited by security conditions.[9] As things stand, the full extent of the contamination is therefore unknown.[10] The Organization of American States (OAS) has also reported that no mined areas have been found in Colombia that could be considered as high- or medium-density minefields. Nuisance mines have been found in schools, water sources, pathways, and stream crossings in order to allegedly intimidate or displace the local population.[11]

In peace negotiations with the FARC in La Habana, Cuba, government negotiators announced that a pre-agreement had been reached whereby the FARC committed to support humanitarian demining and that, once a final peace agreement has been signed, demining of areas affected by mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) will be conducted.[12] Progress will depend on the continuation of the peace process by the newly elected government starting in August 2014.

Contamination also arises from abandoned or illegal ammunition storage areas, clashes between NSAGs and the Colombian Armed Forces, and aerial bombings.[13] Explosive devices and other ERW are found in former battle areas, bombing sites, drug routes, and areas where the government is seeking to destroy coca plantations.[14] In 2013, only 6% of the 368 casualties recorded in IMSMA were from UXO.[15]

Mine Action Program

Established on 30 July 2002 under Law No. 759/2002, the National Interministerial Commission on Antipersonnel Mine Action (Comisión Intersectorial Nacional para la Acción contra Minas Antipersonal, CINAMAP) is the National Mine Action Authority responsible for implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty, including development of a national plan, policy decisions, and coordination of international assistance. Two new key actors for mine action in Colombia are the Victims Unit and the Land Restitution Unit, neither of which existed when CINAMAP was created. Changes to the law are needed in order for them to become full members of CINAMAP.[16]

PAICMA, the technical secretary of CINAMAP, is responsible for coordinating implementation of the 2009–2019 Integrated Mine Action Plan, with the aims of minimizing the socio-economic impact of mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and UXO, and of implementing sustainable development programs in affected communities.[17] The Interagency Humanitarian Demining Group (Instancia Interinstitucional de Desminado Humanitario), commonly referred to as the Instancia Interinstitucional, is the government’s decision-making body for humanitarian demining, comprising the director of PAICMA, the Minister of Defense, and the Inspector General of the army.[18] It approves accreditation, national standards, tasks, and clearance priorities. The OAS and the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) are advisors to the Instancia Interinstitucional on accreditation and national standards.[19]

The Armed Forces Humanitarian Demining Battalion (Fuerzas Armadas del Batallón de Desminado Humanitario, BIDES) has been conducting humanitarian demining since 2005, when it began clearance of 35 military bases. It completed the clearance in 2010.[20]

In September 2013, HALO Trust became the first NGO to conduct demining in Colombia when it began clearance operations at the El Morro minefield, Nariño municipality, in Antioquia department.[21] The other municipality assigned to HALO is San Rafael, also in Antioquia.[22]

The OAS serves as the monitoring body for humanitarian demining in Colombia.[23] The OAS is responsible for managing and implementing a national monitoring system on behalf of the Instancia Interinstitucional.[24] The OAS also serves as an advisor to the Instancia Interinstitucional on accreditation of NGOs in Colombia.[25]

Since 2010, UNMAS has been advising PAICMA on a legal and technical mine action framework to allow NGOs to conduct mine clearance. UNMAS also assists PAICMA in accreditation and monitoring procedures as well as management processes.[26]

During 2013, OAS, UNMAS, and PAICMA provided technical assistance to the Humanitarian Demining Battalion on development of standing operating procedures (SOPs) for non-technical survey (NTS), quality management, manual and mechanical clearance, and mine detection dogs, as well as on training and skills.[27]

Land Release

The Instancia Interinstitucional has approved interventions by demining organizations in 19 municipalities in the departments of Antioquia, Bolivar, Caldas, and Santander for clearance “events.” The BIDES is conducting clearance operations in some of these areas.

Municipalities prioritized in 2013 were Carmen de Viboral, Cocorná, La Unión, Nariño, San Luis, San Rafael, Sonsón, Granada, and San Francisco in Antioquia; Córdoba, San Juan Nepomuceno, Carmen de Bolívar, San Jacinto, and Zambrano in Bolívar; Samaná in Caldas; and Barrancabermeja, Sabana de Torres, Carmen de Chucurí, and San Vicente de Chucurí in Santander department.[28]

In 2013, NTS was conducted in eight of the 19 municipalities prioritized for clearance; in addition, the municipality of San Carlos, which had been previously declared as “Free of Suspicion of contamination from landmines in 2012,” had NTS as part of Colombia’s Residual Risk Policy.[29]

During 2013, the clearance capacity of the BIDES was increased by adding two platoons to the existing eight. According to Colombia’s latest Article 7 report, the BIDES has 10 platoons with 30 independent demining teams and three mechanical teams with two Hitachi minesweepers, two Bozena mine sweepers, and one Mini Wolf donated by Japan.[30] It is planned that two platoons will be added each year until 2020.[31]

The BIDES continues to clear a significant number of suspected hazardous areas that do not contain any explosive ordnance. In 2013, it almost doubled productivity compared to 2012, clearing almost 0.47km2 but only destroying in the process 170 explosive items.[32] The number of mines destroyed has not been reported.

Mine clearance by the BIDES 2013[33]



Area cleared (m2)

Items destroyed





San Francisco




Carmen de Bolívar








Carmen de Chucurí



San Vicente de Chucurí







In 2013, HALO operated in two municipalities clearing 5,200m2, destroying in the process 11 IEDs and four items of UXO.[34]

Article 5 Compliance

Under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty (and in accordance with the 10-year extension granted by States Parties in 2010), Colombia is required to destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 March 2021.

Colombia’s extension request projected that all mined areas will be released by 2020, even though “it is not possible to establish an operational plan which determines the exact number of squads, squadrons and municipalities where the organizations must operate.”[35] Colombia’s 2011–2013 operational plan was to address 6,000 dangerous and mined areas in 14 of 660 mine-suspected municipalities covering an estimated 15km2.[36] Colombia did not reach its targets.

Colombia was due to submit an operational plan for 2014–2020 at the Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties in December 2013. On that occasion, PAICMA informed States Parties that it would present the operational plan at the Third Review Conference in Maputo in July 2014.[37] The plan is to contemplate the increase in areas susceptible to demining, the annual projection for demining, as well as the techniques to be applied; and other relevant aspects for planning and resource mobilization.[38]

 Support for Mine Action

Mine action in Colombia during 2013 received support from Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, the European Union (EU), Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, the United States (US), the OAS, and UNMAS. In 2013, Colombia received US$11.3 million of international funding from nine donors (the US, the EU, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Switzerland, and Belgium). The EU and the US accounted for about 60% of all international funding.[39] Canada, Japan, and the US supported national capacity through the OAS Mine Action Program.

The BIDES visited the Croatian Mine Action Centre, exchanged experience on information management with Ecuador, and sought technical assistance on use of mine detection dogs (MDDs) in demining from Bosnia and Herzegovina.[40]

In Colombia’s 2013 national budget, PAICMA was allocated the sum of Col$3.29 billion, of which Col$3.14 billion had been “committed” by 30 November 2013, corresponding to 95% expenditure of the national mine action budget.[41] PAICMA transferred more than half of its budget (Col$1.7 billion) to the Ministry of Defense for strengthening of the BIDES.[42] Additionally, as part of its International Cooperation Strategy Colombia received US$6.7 million through PAICMA and US$180,000 from the private sector.[43]


·         Colombia should significantly accelerate the pace of identifying and clearing mined areas.

·         IMSMA database clean-up should also be considered an operational priority.


[1] See “Mine Action Program Performance” for more information on performance indicators.

[2] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form C, 30 April 2014; and Monitor analysis of available data.

[3] An event involving a mine may be initially reported as a suspected hazardous area (SHA), the location of a mine accident, or a single mine encountered and destroyed by the army. Events also include incidents from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and unexploded ordnance (UXO) as well as military demining operations.

[4] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form C, 30 April 2014.

[5] Statement of Colombia, Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, 5 December 2013.

[7] Statement of Colombia, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 11 April 2014.

[8] Benjy Hansen-Bundy, “Landmines major obstacle for land restitution: NGO,” Colombia Reports, 12 March 2013.

[9] Statement of Colombia, Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, 5 December 2013.

[10] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form C, 30 April 2014.

[11] Email from Carl Case, OAS, 29 June 2012.

[14] Ibid.

[15] PAICMA, “Situacion Nacional 1990–2014,” accessed 10 May 2014.

[16] Acta CINAMAP 02/2013, 18 December 2013, pp. 3–4.

[17] Presidency of Colombia, Decree 2150 of 2007.

[18] Ministry of Defense, Regulatory Decree No. 3750 de 2011.

[19] Emails from Carl Case, OAS, 29 June 2012; and Marc Bonnet, Program Manager/Senior Technical Advisor, UNMAS, 23 September 2013.

[20] PAICMA, “Desminado Humanitario,” accessed 1 April 2014.

[21] HALO Trust, “HALO starts humanitarian demining operations in Colombia,” 24 September 2013.

[22] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form F, 30 April 2014.

[24] OAS, “Humanitarian Mine Action-Colombia,” Mine Action, Arms Control, Destruction of Ammunition Projects Portfolio 2010–2011, 2011, pp. 34–38.

[25] OAS, “Mine Action Colombia 2012,” Annual Report, undated but 2013.

[26] UN, “UNMAS Annual Report 2012,” New York, August 2013, p. 7.

[27] Acta Instancia Interinstitucional No. 012, 4 July 2013; and “OAS AICMA Program Colombia Executive Summary, External Monitoring Component 2012/2013.”

[28] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form C, 30 April 2014.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid., Form F.

[31] Statement of Colombia, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 11 April 2014.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form G, 30 April 2014.

[34] Ibid.

[36] Ibid., p. 65.

[37] Statement of Colombia, Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, 5 December 2013.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Jérôme Legrand, Policy Officer, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Conventional Weapons and Space Division, European External Action Service, 5 May 2014; email from Ingunn Vatne, Senior Advisor, Humanitarian Affairs Section, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 28 April 2014; response to Monitor questionnaire by Claudia Moser, Programme Officer, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, 15 April 2014; email from Lisa D. Miller, Public Engagement and Partnerships, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, United States Department of State, 9 April 2014; Belgium, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form I, 30 April 2014; Canada, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form J, 30 April 2014; Germany, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form I, 5 May 2014; Japan, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form I, 30 April 2014; and Sweden, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form I, Table 1, 25 April 2014.

[40] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form F, 30 April 2014.

[41] PAICMA, “Avances de Gestión 2013,” 18 December 2013, p. 7.

[42] Ibid., p. 16.

[43] Ibid., p. 10.