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BELGIUM, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

Belgium signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997. This act is the result of a global movement to ban antipersonnel landmines initiated in the early 1990’s in which Belgium has played a decisive role. “In June 1993, the Belgian government established a moratorium on the export of antipersonnel mines, before providing itself with legislation in 1995 which modifies the law of 3 January 1933 relating to the manufacturing, trade and carrying of firearms and the trade of ammunition. The law of 9 March 1995 which henceforth includes antipersonnel mines, booby traps or other devices of a similar nature was amended by the law of 24 June 1996 which provides for a complete ban concentrating on the use, stockpiling, manufacturing and the transfer of antipersonnel mines. Belgium was the first state in the world to declare de jure a complete ban of antipersonnel mines.”[1]

Following its signature, the Belgian Senate ratified the Mine Ban Treaty on 9 July 1998 with a unanimous vote.[2] The Chamber of Representatives then passed the ratification measure on 16 July 1998 with 137 votes for and two against.[3] The instrument of ratification, after having been signed by the King, was deposited at the United Nations on 4 September 1998.[4]

No interpretative declaration was filed with the instrument of ratification.[5] The ratification law appeared in the official bulletin, issued by the government giving details of laws and official announcements, of 18 December 1998 without any interpretative note.[6] It has not been possible to obtain a copy of the instrument of ratification. Because the Belgian law provides for a complete ban, no further implementing legislation is necessary.[7]

Belgium was at the root of the proposal for Article 18 during the treaty negotiations in Oslo.[8] In his speech on 3 December 1997 at the occasion of the signing of the Treaty, the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Erik Derycke, encouraged countries to commit to the article -- namely the provisional application of the important obligations of the Treaty before entry into force: “For many governments, Article 18 nonetheless represents the possibility to immediately apply the essential points of the Convention. I encourage all of the States Parties to use this possibility for provisional application without waiting for it to officially enter into force.” In view of the internal legislation already in effect in Belgium at the time the treaty was signed, it was not necessary to make specific mention regarding the application of this article: "Indeed, this provision is not applicable for countries, such as mine, which have had a radical law for years which bans antipersonnel mines."[9]

Belgium has already begun preparing the requisite report to be handed over to the United Nations 180 days after the Convention went into effect, that is before the first of September 1999. In order to underscore its ongoing commitment to this process, Belgium expects to present the report before the deadline.[10]

Belgium’s Role in the Global Ban Movement

In 1993 the Belgian Network of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) was created and started to rally public opinion in support of a ban. In 1994 members of Parliament were mobilized and in March 1995 passed the first unilateral domestic law banning mines. From this time, the government began to take a lead internationally as well.

Early on, Belgium supported the role of the United Nations as the coordinating forum for mine action, and has co-sponsored a number of resolutions related to that matter. In 1994, its proposed the idea, later taken up by the European Union, of creating the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Demining.[11] An international conference on humanitarian mine clearance was held in Geneva in July of 1995. In presiding over the meeting, Belgian Foreign Minister Derycke emphasized the necessity of expressing a strong political commitment and to making available sufficient resources, both financial and in kind, to provide effective action against mines and to curb the humanitarian catastrophe. In his short introductory speech, he also mentioned the need to ban landmines: “My third appeal will request everyone to give more comprehensive thought to mines. It seems to me that the time has come for an initial examination of the timeliness of an international convention banning antipersonnel mines following the example mutatis mutandis of chemical and biological weapons.”[12]

The government continued to back up its words with action -- its representatives participated in ICBL-sponsored meetings during the final sessions of the CCW Review Conference in Geneva in 1996. These sessions gave birth to what became the “Ottawa Process” when Canada offered to host a meeting later that year to strategize as to how to reach a global ban. During the Ottawa conference in October 1996, the head of the Belgian delegation took a very firm position in favor of a total and global ban: “the first element should be the total and immediate ban on the production of all antipersonnel mines ?, the second essential element to be included in the convention is also of paramount importance because it bears upon the rapid destruction of our stocks?.”[13]

Belgium was a key member of the core group of states that carried the Mine Ban Treaty process through to successful completion. Before the Ottawa October conference, Belgium had already offered to host a follow-up meeting in June of the next year and was named in the “Ottawa Declaration” as the host of that very important conference, seen as the mid-way point of the Ottawa Process.

At the close of that watershed meeting, the secretary general of the conference declared, "What we wanted was the adoption of a declaration of the conference which restates the essential elements of the treaty which are not negotiable and we also wanted to know exactly how many of us share this objective. This had never been done before. I think that now it has. We have the participation of 153 states and today we have 91 signatures supporting and upholding the declaration of Brussels."[14]

In Oslo, Belgium actively participated in the negotiations of the entire text; its positions were very strong and one of the key elements in avoiding weakening the text.[15] And in Ottawa, at the time of the signing of the Treaty, Foreign Minister Derycke promised to continue efforts towards universalization: “Belgium will continue its efforts to rally countries which still feel hesitant in support of the convention.?My country will carefully examine each request for assistance by a State Party in the enforcement of the treaty.”[16]

Throughout the Ottawa process, a close collaboration between the representatives of the NGOs and of the government developed. In each of the conferences that marked the return to Ottawa for the signing of the Mine Ban Treaty, the Belgian delegations included an NGO representative. This allowed for real, constructive collaboration, in particular throughout the negotiations in Oslo.

Belgium has contributed to the organization of the First Conference of the State Parties of the Ottawa Convention, in Maputo from 3 to 7 May 1999, in addition to its obligatory contribution. Foreign Minister Derycke announced the figure of 3 million Belgian francs (US$82,200) on the first of March 1999, the day the Treaty entered into force.[17]

Belgium has also been an active supporter of various efforts in the context of the Ottawa Process and the Mine Ban Treaty. In 1997, BADC[18] supported Handicap international with 2,300,000 BEF ($63,000) for the organization of various activities for the Brussels conference for banning landmines, as well as participation in Belgium of the representatives of the ICBL and mine victims.[19] One million BEF ($27,400) was also given for the making of the 10 short films “Spotlight on a Massacre.”[20]

In support of Handicap International’s global plan of action, BADC is financing the organization for 1,400,000 ($38,350) for 1998 and 1,945,000 BEF ($53,289) for 1999 for its work coordinate the Belgian network of the ICBL and for continuing to build public awareness in Belgium of the landmine problem and its solutions..[21]

For 1998, the Belgian government allocated one million BEF ($27,400) to Handicap International Belgium as a member of the core group of the Landmine Monitor research team for the collection of data and preparation of this report.[22] Belgium also supported the Campaign of the International Committee of the Red Cross in 1997 and 1998[23]

Belgium in the European Context

Belgium assumed the presidency of the Western European Union (WEU) in 1996 with the Birmingham declaration that consisted of an initiative on WEU demining actions, in the framework of the European Union (EU), without exclusion of other forms of collaboration. That approach was concretized by the EU joint action of November 1997 that gives to EU the possibility of using the demining capacities of WEU for EPCS actions (European policy for common security). The EU Council subsequently decided to provide assistance to Croatia for humanitarian demining. Belgium provided one expert trainer for that mission.[24]

In November 1997, Belgium launched an initiative in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for more transparency in state landmine policies, consisting of a questionnaire related to the legal and political measures adopted vis-a-vis landmines. Each year the secretariat will compiles the responses to the questionnaires and publish a report. The first report will be available in the Spring of 1999. The main objective of this initiative is a confidence-building measure among the members of the OSCE.[25]

Belgian National Legislation

In Belgium, largely because of the work of the Belgian Network of the ICBL to build public awareness of the landmine problem, there was a change in Belgian policy to support national legislation to ban antipersonnel landmines. The public pressure was supported by steps being taken in the European context and internationally. In December 1992, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling upon its member states to ratify the CCW and calling urgently for a five year European moratorium on the sale, transfer and export of antipersonnel mines.[26]

Then, on 11 February 1993, French President Francois Mitterand "announced that France calls for the rapid convening of a Review Conference of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW)".[27] This helped build momentum in Belgium which in 1993 Belgium enacted a moratorium on the export of mines.[28]

From that period, Belgium advanced on two fronts: the first on the process of ratification of the CCW and the second in the preparation of a law banning antipersonnel mines. The law banning antipersonnel mines was adopted on 2 March 1995. The first law banned the production, procurement, sale, export, use and custody of mines. [29] On 2 May 1996, the Parliament passed a second law which included a ban on stockpiling and imposed a deadline for destruction of stockpiles within three years from 9 July 1996.[30]

Belgium was the first member state of NATO, in fact the first country in the world, to adopt such a severe law, which worried some in the Belgian government. The Minister of Defense Delcroix, while supporting the principle of a serious restriction in the use of antipersonnel mines, booby traps and devices of a similar nature, was opposed to a total ban which would isolate Belgium within NATO and prevent it from fulfilling its military obligations vis-a-vis the other members of the Alliance.[31] “However, these arguments were rejected following the recognition of the risks of anarchic use of this armament, the very theoretical nature of the so-called necessity of their use (the last use of this armament by Belgian forces was in 1951 during the Korean War) and the important symbol which a total ban would represent in the view of the international community.”[32]

The definition of mines in the Belgian law is interesting. The Belgian law deals with antipersonnel mines, booby traps and devices of the same nature. If the definition given is clear for antipersonnel mines,[33] this is not the case with booby traps and devices of the same nature. The introductory section of its report on the law, the Commission of Justice gives several examples : “it could be a question of antitank or anti-vehicle mines which are dealt with to explode not under the pressure of the weight of a tank or vehicle, but by contact with a person; or of ‘sub-munitions’...which have been deliberately regulated to not explode from a first contact but can be disseminated and have the same effect as antipersonnel mines.”[34] It seems obvious to NGOs that anti-handling devices should be considered as devices of the same nature and therefore fall under the ban law.

The Belgian army does not agree with this interpretation and considers that from the moment an anti-handling device is in place on an antitank mine, it becomes an integral part of the ATM and that ATMs are not prohibited by the law.[35] The army also acknowledges that “a certain percentage of antitank mines retained by the army are equipped with anti-handling devices.”[36] Of course, the Ottawa Treaty excludes prohibitions on anti-handling devices (although the diplomatic record notes that if they act like an APM they should be considered one and thus outlawed[37]), but the Belgian law was written before the treaty and it contains strict penal codes which have priority over international law.

Convention on Conventional Weapons

Belgium signed the CCW on 10 April 1981, but did not ratify it until 7 February 1995.[38] One of the first acts of the Belgian network of the ICBL was to encourage the urgent ratification of the Convention so that Belgium could actively participate in the review conference.

Throughout the two sessions of this review conference, Belgium took the following position: “We have banned antipersonnel mines. We have a two-pronged political position which is namely in international matters, we would like to push every initiative towards a total ban on antipersonnel mines but regarding the conference here which was the finalizing of new regulations on the use, the production and certain technical aspects of the use of mines, we have aligned our position with the Joint Action of the European Union (Joint Action, 12 May 1995) with a specific focus on the extension of the scope of the protocol in internal conflicts and on detectability. The third point which was extremely important for Belgium and the European Union was the ban on transfers, that is to say, the international trade of mines.”[39]

On 9 July 1998, the Senate unanimously passed the ratification of the additional Protocol and of Protocol II as amended in the CCW.[40] The Chamber of Representatives did the same on 16 July 1998.[41] The instruments of ratification were deposited at the United Nations on 10 March 1999.

Conference on Disarmament

While defending the ultimate objective of a total ban on mines, Belgium was already envisaging discussing mines in the CD during the international meeting on mine clearance in July 1995 when Minister Derycke, while talking about an international convention banning mines, stated, “Why not entrust the Disarmament Conference with the preliminary studies of such a convention.”[42] At the end of the review conference of the CCW in Geneva on 3 May 1996, the head of the Belgian delegation declared: “We are prepared to devote several years to putting in place a system totally banning antipersonnel mines first by passing a resolution (at the General Assembly of the United Nations( and if possible by obtaining a mandate which would lead to the negotiation of a worldwide ban treaty at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. This takes time but it is possible, we did it for chemical weapons, we will finish by doing it for nuclear tests, we believe that it is possible for mines. But this would not be done tomorrow. It is a long-winded issue which requires a great deal of assiduity and which requires continuity in the political willingness of which, in Belgium, there is no doubt.”[43]

After the conclusion of the Brussels conference, Belgium continued to favor an approach on a number of fronts: "It is true that at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva, certain countries would like to discuss mines. Belgium is one of these countries. We do not see a contradiction between the Ottawa process and the Disarmament Conference. We are convinced that the only true objective is the ban of antipersonnel mines. The paths that we take to achieve this objective are a matter of indifference to us. Our analysis is that for the moment, the Ottawa process will lead us there more certainly and more quickly. However, we are open to any developments at the Disarmament Conference. What matters to us is the final objective."[44]

In March of 1999 the Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Service of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs-confirmed this view: “Belgium's approach is inspired by a wish for integrity. We have always, from the very beginning of the Ottawa Process, expressed the desire to attend the two complementary processes. At the Disarmament Conference, there are countries which did not attend the Ottawa Process. Discussing these issues in different fora is one way to commit those countries towards the banning of APLs. But it remains clear that in our minds we will never agree with any initiative which should risk to weaken the Convention.”[45] Belgium was one of twenty-two countries to co-sponsor a Bulgarian statement in February 1999 calling for negotiations of a transfer ban of antipersonnel landmines in the CD.


It was in 1778 that in Wetteren (which was not yet Belgium at this time) the first powder factory was created. By 1979, United Powder Factories of Belgium, or Poudreries Reunies de Belgique -- PRB held more than 73 factories around the world with production in 5 sectors: industrial explosives, foam, chemistry, defense and mechanical, and miscellaneous. The headquarters is located in Brussels.[46] Military production was carried out at six sites: Matagne, Clermont, Vivegnis (in Wallonia) and Mechelen, Kaulille and Balen (in Flanders).[47]

Mine production was mainly located at Balen.[48] However, in parliamentary debates on the law banning mines it was revealed that the "Matagne la petite" site had also produced mines.[49] In fact, mine production took place at three of the sites: at Matagne, elements were produced (plastic and metal); at Kaulille it was explosives; and at Balen, the explosive was poured into the cases.[50]

Before the 1990s, Belgium produced antipersonnel and antitank mines.

Antipersonnel mines included:

- The NR409 also known by the name PRB M409 is a blast mine which is placed manually. It was also produced in Portugal under the reference M411 or MAPS. This mine contains very little metal and is therefore difficult to detect. These mines have been found in Angola, Iraq, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia and Zambia.[51]

- PRB BAC H-28: antipersonnel blast mine, precursor to the NR 409.[52] The Belgian army did not acquire this mine.[53]

- The PRB M35: small cylindrical blast mine which is found in Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Angola.[54] This mine was included in the basic equipment of the Belgian Army.[55]

- The NR 413 is a relatively simple fragmentation mine which is triggered by trip wires. It is found in Rwanda.[56]

- The PRB M966: bounding fragmentation mine copied from a series M2 model from the United States. This mine was also produced in Portugal under the reference M/966.[57]

- The NR 442: bounding fragmentation antipersonnel mine.[58]

Antitank mines included:

- PRB M1, PRB M2 , PRB M3 and its variation PRB M3A1 are antitank mines with a blast effect.[59] The variation has two secondary fuze-wells for booby-trap purposes.

- PRB III: blast mine. The fuze is the same type as used on the M 35 antipersonnel mines.[60]

- PRB IV: The fuze is in fact an antipersonnel mine.[61]

- The PRB 408 blast antitank mine.[62]

- NR 141 and the NR 210: antitank mines with a blast effect. The NR 210 has a secondary fuze-well at the base of the mine for boobytrap purposes.[63]

In the 1980s, PRB experienced financial difficulties which led the company to declare bankruptcy in 1989 and the different branches were put into liquidation.[64] In a letter dated 25 January 1999, the trusteeship of the PRB Company confirmed that the bankruptcy of PRB had been closed on 27 December 1993, but did not release any details.[65] As for their side, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirms the destruction of the Belgian production capabilities: “The manufacturing of antipersonnel mines in Belgium has stopped since the bankruptcy of the PRB company well before the introduction of the national prohibitory legislation in this matter. The PRB substructures were dismantled by a specialized company.”[66] A request had been made in order to obtain, if it exists, a copy of the certificate signifying the end of the demilitarization of the site. [67]


Belgium participates in various fora where studies relative to APM alternatives are being carried out. At the same time, it respects the letter and the spirit of the Ottawa Convention and the national legislation in this matter. To date, there have been no budgetary implications for alternatives.[68]


In June 1993, the Belgian government established a moratorium on the export of antipersonnel mines, which was superseded by the national law of 1995.[69] It was not possible to obtain information on any import of mines in the past, but in view of the fact that the stocks of destroyed mines (see below) were Belgian-made mines, it is unlikely that any imports of large quantities ever took place.[70]

Stockpiling and Destruction

One year after the Belgian national ban law of 1995, stockpiling was also banned through a new law, which went into effect on 9 July 1996. From that moment on, the Belgian armed forces began the destruction of the stocks, in order to meet the three-year deadline.[71]

Belgian stocks mainly consisted of M35 antipersonnel mines, which were sent to a weapons dismantling plant in Pinnow, Germany. Not having adequate facilities in Belgium, a contract was signed for the incineration of 428,952 explosive devices.[72] “The demilitarization and destruction of the antipersonnel mines in Belgium's possession has been the subject of a contract (jointly with the Netherlands) fulfilled in 1997 by the German civil company ‘BUCK INPAR GMBH, Am Waldrand, 2 at 16278-PINNOW.’ The destruction was carried out by the dismantling of the components, followed by the destruction of certain elements by explosion. These operations were carried out in accordance with German law and European directives relating to respect of the environment. The certificate of destruction was delivered by the German company to the Ministry of National Defense, in accordance with the contract established between the two parties.[73]

This destruction was carried out in two stages with the departure of a first lot of more than 300,000 mines from the Bertrix military station munitions depot on 20 December 1996.[74] The media reporting the event mentions 313,472 mines loaded onto 272 pallets[75] which represents 6 freight wagons.[76] On 25 August, the Army's Media Service announced in its press release N?148, the departure of the second lot made up of 115,480 for Germany. On 26 August 1997, at 13H45 the 115,480 mines manufactured in the 1960s, approximately 45 tons, left in a convoy.[77]

On 8 November 1997, the media announced that dismantling operations had been completed. [78] It has not been possible to obtain any details regarding the types of mines destroyed. [79] However, a camera crew from Handicap International was able to get on site in Germany and film the dismantling of the Belgian mines. The mines that were filmed were type M35.[80] The cost of the destruction is estimated at 39.5 BEF ($1.08) per mine, plus German taxes and the cost of transport.[81] The total cost was more than 17,960,000 BEF ($492,068) which was borne by the Ministry of National Defense.[82]

Besides the dismantling of the above stocks, the Mine Clearance Service of the Armed Forces destroyed 4,489 antipersonnel mines. These operations were part of on-going military directives, carried out on the destruction grounds provided for this purpose and in accordance with standards decreed by the European Union and national legislation.[83] Belgium therefore destroyed 433,441 antipersonnel mines.

Belgium kept a small stock of mines for training and research purposes. The media reported some 8,800 mines in November 1997,[84] but in a document dated February 1999, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced: "Today, Belgium has a minimum stock of 6,240 active type M35 antipersonnel mines. These are intended for the education and training of specialists in mine clearance operations as well as for ‘mine awareness’ instruction of personnel. The use of this stock, kept by the Ministry of National Defense, is subject to both strict military regulations and to the provisions provided by Belgian law.”[85]

Various inert or rendered inoperative antipersonnel mines are also used for training purposes as well as in research and development programs for mine clearance methods and techniques. These mines mainly come from zones in which Belgium has been involved in mine clearance operations. Belgium has also supplied such mines to the Netherlands (11 cut and inert APMs) in July of 1998, in accordance with Article 3 of the Ottawa Convention.[86]

In the 1960s, the Belgian army had American type M2A1 bounding mines which were subsequently withdrawn from stocks.[87] As far as the Claymore type mines or munitions are concerned, "Belgium does not have any fragmentation mines which could be likened to antipersonnel mines."[88]

During the debates on the Belgian law in 1995 and 1996 and again at the time of the ratification of the Ottawa Convention, the question arose regarding the stockpiling and the transfer of non-Belgian mines in Belgium in the framework of NATO. On 1 December 1998, Hugo Vandienderen, Belgian Member of Parliament, questioned the Minister of Defense, Mr. Jean-Pol Poncelet, about this issue. The Minister replied that “Belgian legislation and the Ottawa Treaty ban the stockpiling of antipersonnel mines. U.S. authorities have been informed of this ban and they have confirmed that they did not organize the transport of antipersonnel mines on our territory?.The situation regarding antipersonnel mines is studied at different levels within NATO?.Our national legislation bans the transit of antipersonnel mines. Furthermore, this matter is regularly the subject of discussion within NATO.”[89]


During the parliamentary debates of 1995, it was declared that Belgium had not used mines since 1951 in the Korean War.[90] The question was asked to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which replied, in coordination with the Ministry of Defense that “To our knowledge, the Belgian troops did not place antipersonnel mines in Korea. Belgium does not have any information regarding the situation of mine fields in Korea.”[91]

In Belgium today, the only legal uses of mines are for training or research projects for detection and mine clearance techniques. As noted above, the government stated that it has retained 6,240 M35 APMs for these purposes. It also noted that the stock is controlled by the MoD under strict military regulations and those of Belgian law.[92] According to information obtained from the Removal and Destruction of Explosive Devices Service (SEDEE), training mine clearance personnel does not, on their side, require possession of active mines.[93] However, SEDEE does use active mines for research projects for new techniques for mine clearance and detection[94]

The Engineering school does use active mines in its training. There are two types of training that call for active mines. One is “mine awareness”: statutory one-day training for warrant officers and officers. This training includes an on-site demonstration of the explosion of a mine type M35bg in order to illustrate the noise, range and impact of the explosion. In 1998, there were some fifty such sessions. There will be approximately the same number in 1999. The second is specialized training of combat engineering members. Four categories of military personnel from this unit receive training, which includes the use of mines: the soldiers, two levels of warrant officers and the officers. The statutory training includes mine clearance. For this, type M35bg mines are used at first to illustrate (as in the above-mentioned training), subsequently, the individual defusing of a mine of that type and finally, a practical “mine plug” demining exercise with on-site destruction. These types of training require approximately 200 to 210 mines per year.[95]

Landmine Problem

Belgium is not deeply affected by mines, however, following the two world conflicts of 1914-18 and 1940-45, the territory has been affected by mines and unexploded ordnance. The latter still require the intervention of specialists in 1999. In Belgium, mine clearance is the responsibility of the Ministry of Defense. Within the armed forces, operations are carried out by SEDEE. This Service consists of around 97 deminers who perform approximately 3,000 interventions per year. Throughout the 1990s more than 200 tons of devices have been destroyed each year, including 260 tons in 1998.[96]

In Belgium there is no need of mine risk education for the public. Mine awareness was carried out after the two World Wars but today mines are not considered a risk. Some mine awareness training is organized for the armed forces and for civilians who are going to be in a position to face dangers, e.g., journalists, diplomats.[97]

International Cooperation and Funding

In the framework of mine action, Belgium follows a multi disciplinary approach that prioritizes mined areas which are absolutely necessary for the survival of the civilian population. The approach follows some basic principles including the integration of demining programs into global regional development plans, the creation of local capacity, and the support of research and development of new demining techniques mainly oriented to “low-tech” solutions.[98]

Belgian support for humanitarian mine action includes financial contributions and in-kind support, in particular Belgian deminers of SEDEE, all of whom are NATO-certified and capable of mine clearance as well as for the treatment of UXO. They have participated in mine clearance operations in Somalia, Rwanda, Zaire, Iraq, Bosnia, Cambodia and Laos.[99]

Since the creation of the United Nations Voluntary Fund in 1994, Belgium annually contributes a non-earmarked sum of 5,600,000 BEF ($150,000) to the Fund. In addition, Belgium granted an additional amount of 25 million BEF($685,000) in 1997 and has already contributed 10 million BEF ($274,000) to the Fund for the year 1999. Belgian also contributes through international organizations of which it is a member.

Since the 7 April 1992 start of United Nations and NATO operations in Croatia and in Bosnia-Herzegovina, more than 120 Belgian mine clearance personnel have participated in mine clearance activities there. In Croatia, one mine clearance expert will participate from February 1999 onwards in a WEU demining mission. In 1998, a budget of 3 million BEF ($82,000) was granted to a "lessons learned" project in Croatia. (BADC Budget, 1998)

In Cambodia, two mine clearance experts have served as technical advisors for the Cambodia Mine Action Center (CMAC) in a mine clearance project supported by Belgium up to 45 million ($1,233,000)[100] for the period from 28 February 1994 to 31 March 1999. The international financial and technical backing given to CMAC is coordinated with UNDP. Technical assistance is given with the goal of making the Cambodian CMAC teams independent. In 1997, the “Trust fund for Capacity Building in Demining Operations” was also supported by Belgium with 30 million BEF ($822,000) paid to the Voluntary Fund of UNDP (in the 1996 budget).

Since April 1998, three mine clearance experts have served as technical advisors for the Laos National Unexploded Ordnance Program (UXO LAO). This project aims to train Laotian mine clearance experts by Belgian specialists and is supported by a Belgian grant of to 15 million BEF ($411,000) for one year. Belgium is also supporting UXO-LAO with 15 million BEF ($411,000) for an awareness campaign of the existence of unexploded projectiles and of the cleaning up of affected areas. In order to see this program through to a successful conclusion, UNDP has established a voluntary Fund, which mobilizes donations.

The Belgian contribution to the program is allocated for the “Savannakhet Provincial Program” which is coordinated by Handicap International. This contribution was made on the 1998 budget and covered the activities for the period from the first of April 1997 to 31 March 1998. The operations of Handicap International in Laos are also supported with the secondment of an EOD expert to HI. The 1994 law enables such secondment of experts with less than five years from retirement; the costs in Laos are shared by the Ministry of Defense and Handicap International.[101]

Belgium is also member of the ad hoc "High-Level UN Mine Action Support Group" which was established apart from the United Nations in 1998 and mainly consists of the main donors countries to mine action.[102]

Assistance in the development of mine clearance technology[103]

Until now, Belgium has granted 26,255,400 BEF ($720,000) to the research program for mine clearance technology called “HUDEM”, launched in 1997, at the instigation of the Ministry of National Defense. It is financed by the Ministry of National Defense and by the Secretary of State of Development cooperation (6,255,400 BEF, $171,400). This program is based on the sharing of expertise of eight Belgian University institutions in the fields of detection, locating and neutralization of mines and in the field of merging data. A new phase is planned for 1999.

In 1998, the Belgian government decided to grant 44,000,000 BEF ($1,205,400) for a European pilot project “Airborne Minefield Detection”. This also involves a co-financing: 30,800,000 ($843,800)comes from BADC (in 1997 and 1999), 5,600,000 ($153,400)comes from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 7,600,000 ($208,200)from the Ministry of Defense.

Also in 1998, the government granted 10,743,150 BEF ($294,300) for the first phase of a project concentrating on the development of mine clearance technology. The project concerns research in the use of biosensors (rats) for humanitarian mine clearance operations. The aim of the research project – APOPO – is the development of an inexpensive and effective technology for the detection of mine fields. The general project is divided into two phases, of which the first two-year phase in Belgium consists of a concept feasibility study, and in the second phase, which consists of the pursuit of development of a functional mine detection system that will be developed in South Africa. A budget of 15,750,000 BEF ($431,500) has been given for the second phase in 1999.

Landmine Casualties[104]

Today in Belgium there are no longer accidents due to landmines. From time to time, UXO incidents occur in the civilian population. In Belgian peace keeping operations in Croatia and in Somalia, at least 3 accidents were reported. All three, which occurred in 1992 and 1993, were vehicle-detonated antitank mine incidents. One resulted in no serious injuries. But the other two resulted in one dead and one injured in Croatia and in the Somalia incident, 3 dead and two injured – all Belgian military. The Somalia explosion also injured one Somali passenger.[105]

For Belgium, policy to aid mine victims is placed in a double perspective : short term and long term. The actions conducted by Belgium in the short term are geared to have immediate socio-economic impact. For the longer term, the actions conducted by Belgium are aimed at sustainable development.

In the context of the Post-Ottawa process, the ICRC is called on to play an important role with respect to the application of article 6 paragraph 3 of the Treaty which provides for the support of states parties for victims of antipersonnel mines. The Belgian government decided from that moment on to release a sum of 16 million BEF($438,000) (6 million ($164,400) from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 10 million ($273,600)from the development cooperation) for ICRC programs in 1998 to assist victims in rehabilitation, surgical and medical support, awareness program, "advocacy" campaign and special funds for the disabled.

Mine clearance is an important part of the cooperation program led in Angola. The mine clearance program is based on an integrated approach, on medical care and rehabilitation of disabled persons in coordination with Handicap International in Kuito. Belgium granted a sum of 5,200,000 BEF ($142,500) to this project.


[1]Belgian response to the Landmine Monitor questionnaire, 26 February 1999; responses coordinated by the Ministry of Defense, the State Secretariat for Cooperation and Development and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under the coordination of the latter, p. 2. This is further referred to herein as “MFA response.”

[2]Report of the plenary session of the Senate, Ordinary Session 1997-1998, afternoon session, 9 July 1998.

[3]Report of the plenary session of 16 July 1998 of the Chamber of Representatives, Nominal vote N°87.

[4]Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Fax memorandum from Legal Affairs General Direction, Treaties Service, 23 October 1998.

[5]UN website, www.un.org/Depts.Treaty/final/ chapter XXVI Disarmament, N°5.

[6]Le Moniteur, Official Journal, 18 December 1998.

[7]MFA response

[8]APL/CW.47 Amendment proposed by Belgium, Article 16 Bis, 2 September 1997.

[9]Speech of Mr. Eric Derycke, Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Signing Conference of the Mine Ban Convention, Ottawa, 3 December 1997.

[10]Discussion with the Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Service at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 9 March 1999.

[11]MFA response.

[12]Speech of Foreign Minister Erik Derycke, Chairman of the International Meeting on Demining, Geneva, 6 July 1995.

[13]Intervention of the Belgian head of delegation, “Towards a Global Ban on Antipersonnel Mines,” Ottawa, Canada, 3 October 1996.

[14]Video interview of Ambassador Mernier, general secretary of the Brussels conference, Handicap International, 27 June 1997; see also, Robert J. Lawson, Mark Gwozdecky, Jill Sinclair, and Ralph Lysyshyn, “The Ottawa Process and the International Movement to Ban Antipersonnel Mines,” To Walk without Fear, Maxwell A. Cameron, Robert J. Lawson, Brian W. Tomlin (eds.), (Oxford University Press, Toronto, 1998), pp. 173-174.

[15]Observation of the researcher who was the NGO member of the official Belgian delegation in the Oslo Treaty negotiations.

[16]Speech of Minister Derycke, Ottawa, 3 December 1997.

[17]Statement of Minister Derycke, Press Conference, 1 March 1999.

[18]Belgian Administration for Development and Cooperation.

[19]Royal Decree of 22 September 1997.


[21]Ministerial Decree, 24 April 1998; Ministerial Decree, 19 January 1999.

[22]Letter from MFA, 2 February 1999.

[23]MFA response.


[25]MFA response; discussion with the Department of Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, MFA.

[26]European Parliament, Resolution B3-1744/92, December 1992.

[27]Antipersonnel mines: For the banning of massacres of civilians in time of Peace, facts and chronologies, 2nd edition, June 1997.

[28]MFA response.

[29]Law related to antipersonnel mines, booby traps and devices of the same nature. N95-778.

[30]Law of 24 June 1996 modifying the Law of 3 January 1933 relative to the production, trade and carrying of arms and of commerce of ammunition with the intent of prohibiting the Belgian State or its public administrations from holding antipersonnel mines in depots. F96-1435, published in the Belgian Monitor on 9 July 1996, p. 18777.

[31]Parliamentary document, Senate, 1994-1995, 1009-2 (1993-1194), report by Mr. Pataer, pp. 7 ss., 35.

[32]Ibid, pp. 22-26.


[34]Parliamentary document, report by Mr. Pataer, p. 2.

[35]Discussion with the representatives of the interdepartmental meeting of 18 March 1999.


[37]International Campaign to Ban Landmines, “Statement to the Closing Plenary of the Oslo Diplomatic Conference on a Treaty to Ban Antipersonnel Landmines,” Oslo, 18 September 1997.

[38]UN website: www.un.org/plweb-cgi/idoc2.pl?53807

[39]Video interview of Ambassador Mernier of the Belgian Delegation, Geneva Review Conference, 3 May 1996.

[40]Report of the plenary session of the Senate , ordinary session 1997-1998, afternoon session of 9 July 1998.

[41]Report of the plenary session of 16 July 1998 of the Chamber of Representatives, Nominal votes N°71 and 81 (137 yes / 2 no).

[42]Derycke, Geneva, 6 July 1995.

[43]Mernier, Geneva video interview, 3 May 1996.

[44]Video interview of Ambassador Mernier, Handicap International, Brussels, 27 June 1997.

[45]Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Service, MFA, 9 March 1999.

[46]PRB, 1778/1978, brochure published at the occasion of the 200th anniversary, Brussels, 1978.


[48]PRB Alternative report : "Alternatief Verslag," Aktiekomitee aan de wapenhandel omschakeling wapenindustrie en de vlaamse vredeuniversiteit", Nico Van Duffel en Ernst Gulcher, 1985, p. 3.

[49]Report done in the name of the Justice Commission of the Belgium Senate, session 1994-1995, 20 December 1994, R.A 16526, p. 5.

[50]Confidential source.

[51]Jane’s Mines and Mine Clearance, 1997-1998, p. 51; U.S. Department of Defense, Mines Facts,” CD Rom.

[52]“Mine Facts” CD Rom.

[53]Comments by Colonel Paul Frank (ret),military engineers, now volunteer at Handicap international.

[54]Jane's, p..51; Mine Facts. Angola is mentioned only by Jane's.

[55]Colonel Paul Frank (ret),military engineers, now volunteer at Handicap international.

[56]Jane's, p. 51; “Mine Facts” CD Rom. Rwanda is mentioned only by Jane's.


[58]“Mine Facts” CD Rom.


[60]“Mines Facts” CD Rom.




[64]Press coverage: De Morgen, Het Gazet van Antwerpen, Le Soir, l'Echo de la Bourse, 1990/1991.

[65]Letter de Ronald Parijs , trusteeship office, 25/01/99, ref : RP/SD/99/F/ARCHIV.

[66]MFA response, p. 3.

[67]Request of 9 March 1999.

[68]Supplement to the Belgian response to the Landmine Monitor questionnaire, fax from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 12 March 1999.

[69]MFA response, p. 2.

[70]Letter of request written by the GRIP, 25 February 1999.

[71]Belgian law 24 June 1996, Le Moniteur, official journal, 9 July 1996.

[72]Vers L’Avenir, 27 August 1997.

[73]MFA response, p. 2.

[74]Armed Forces Press Service, Press Release 354/1, 19 December 1996.

[75]This figure is quoted in the following newspapers : La Lanterne, 28 August 1997; La dernière Heure, 8 November 1997; La Wallonie, 8 November 1997; Het Nieuwswsblad, 29 August 1997, Vers l’Avenir 27 August 1997; La Libre Belgique, 27 August 1997, Le Soir, 27 August 1997.

[76]Vers l’Avenir, 27 August 1997.

[77]This figure is quoted in the following newspapers: La Lanterne, 28 August 1997; La dernière Heure, 8 November 1997; La Wallonie, 8 November 1997; Het nieuwsblad, 29 August 1997; Vers l’Avenir, 27 August 1997; La Libre Belgium, 27 August 1997; Le Soir, 27 August 1997.

[78]Le Soir, 8 November 1997; La Dernière Heure, 8 November 1997; La Wallonie, 8 November 1997.

[79]Request of 19 November 1998 and repeated 7 March 1999 at the Ministry of Defense, The requests to the firm of Buck failed to obtain information.

[80]Visit made in May 1997; Footage available at Handicap International.

[81]Het Volk, 20 December 1996; Le Soir, 27 August 1997 and 8 November 1997; La Wallonie, 8 November 1997; Het Nieuwse Blad, 29 August 1997; La Libre Belgium 27 August 1997.

[82]MFA response.


[84]Le Soir, 8 November 1997; La Wallonie, 8 November 1997.

[85]MFA response, p. 3.


[87]Colonel Paul Frank (ret),military engineers, now volunteer at Handicap international

[88]Supplement to the Belgian response to the Landmine Monitor questionnaire, fax from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 12 March 1999.

[89]Response of the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense in Charge of Energy , Jean-Pol Poncelet, public meeting of the National Defense Commission, 1 December 1998, ref: C 683. p. 2.

[90]Senate of Belgium, session de 1994-1995, 20 December 1994, Bill, report done in the name of the fait Justice commission by Mr. .Pataer. doc ref 1009-2, p. 35.

[91]Supplement to the Belgian response to the Landmine Monitor questionnaire, fax from Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 12 March 1999.

[92]MFA response, p. 2.

[93]LM Researcher telephone interview with Major Lambrecht, second in command at the SEDEE, 8 March 1999.


[95]LM Researcher telephone interview with Adjudant-Major Henkinet, section commander of the DMTCC (Destruction, mines, travaux de campagne et camouflage) at the Engineering school. 16 March 1999.

[96]Statistic table received from Col. Devroe, Commander of SEDEE, March 1999.

[97]LM Researcher telephone interview with Adjudant-Major Henkinet.

[98]MFA response.


[100]45 million cover the costs of the technical advisers during that period.

[101]Management files of the Savannaketh project , Handicap International, 1997-98.

[102]MFA response.

[103]All information below is from the Belgian response to the Landmine Monitor questionnaire, MFA, 26 February 1999.

[104]Ibid, except where otherwise indicated.

[105]LM Researcher telephone interview with the Major Lambrecht.