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Falkland Islands

Falkland Islands/Malvinas

Scope of the Problem

The 1982 armed conflict between Argentina and the United Kingdom resulted in many thousands of antipersonnel and antivehicle mines being laid on the Falkland Islands/Malvinas, most by Argentina. There is also UXO, including a number of areas that contain cluster munition remnants resulting from the use of BL-755 cluster bombs by the UK against Argentine positions. The precise extent of UXO contamination is not known. The UK has also noted the presence of booby-traps on the Falkland Islands/Malvinas.[1]

The UK has reported that 117 mined areas remain, covering a total area of some 13km2—a significant reduction from previous estimates of 20km2—which contain “just over” 20,000 mines.[2] Moreover, this reduced estimate includes four suspected hazardous areas amounting to almost 5.8km2, which “probably have no mines but there are still suspicions.”[3] The mined areas are mainly beaches and peat bogs. Three minefields are said to be within one mile (1.6km) of the capital, Port Stanley. When depositing its initial Article 7 report in August 1999, the UK included minefield maps for the Falkland Islands/Malvinas.[4]

Minefields are said to be surrounded by a three-strand fence and marked with danger signs at regular intervals around the perimeter, in addition to the NATO standard mine warning triangles. No human casualties from mines or UXO have been reported in the Falkland Islands/Malvinas since 1984, although there have been a number of “infringements of minefields” recorded, including a few children and several tourists, with some people arriving in the mined areas after disembarking from boats.[5] A number of cattle have been killed in minefields.[6] Presumably, minefields are not fenced where the edge of the minefield touches the coast. The UK has reported that six military personnel were injured in 1982 and a further two were injured in 1983. Most military accidents took place while clearing/lifting the minefields in the immediate aftermath of the 1982 conflict or in the process of trying to establish the extent of the minefield perimeters, particularly where no detailed records existed.[7]

[1] See UK Article 7 Report, Form C, 11 April 2006.

[2] UK Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 30 May 2008, p. 2.

[3] UK Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 30 May 2008, p. 13.

[4]See Landmine Monitor Report 2007, p. 720.

[5] Email from Tamar Gabelnick, Treaty Implementation Director, ICBL, 23 July 2009.

[6] See report on the United Kingdom in this edition of Landmine Monitor.

[7] See Landmine Monitor Report 2008, p. 1,070.