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Country Reports
ECUADOR, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

Ecuador’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Diego Ribaneira signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 4 December 1997. Ecuador has yet to ratify it.

On 18 November 1998, a Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson informed reporters that the Government had begun the constitutional procedure to ratify the ban treaty.[1] He stated that the treaty had the support of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministries and that it had been sent to the Constitutional Tribunal for consideration. After the Constitutional Tribunal’s judgment, the treaty will be sent to the National Congress for ratification.[2]

Ecuador participated in all of the ban treaty preparatory meetings, endorsed the pro-treaty Brussels Declaration, and took part in the Oslo negotiations. It also voted in favor of the pro-ban UN General Assembly resolutions in 1996, 1997 and 1998, as well as the pro-ban resolutions of the Organization of American States (OAS).

Despite its participation in the Ottawa Process, Ecuador was not an early or enthusiastic supporter of a comprehensive ban on antipersonnel mines, citing its tense security situation with Peru. Ecuador particularly disturbed ban proponents when during the Oslo treaty negotiations it supported proposals put forward by the United States which if they had been accepted, would have severely weakened the treaty text. These included a delay of nine years in the proposed entry into force period, and a clause permitting withdrawal from the treaty in times of war.

Ecuador is a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its original Protocol II on landmines but it has not yet ratified amended Protocol II.

Production, Transfer and Stockpiling

Ecuador is not believed to have ever produced or exported antipersonnel landmines. There is no information available about the size or composition of Ecuador’s landmine stockpile. It is known that Ecuador imported 1,248 antipersonnel mines from the United States (648 M18A1 Claymore mines in 1987, and another 600 M18A1s in 1991).[3] Ecuador instituted a moratorium on antipersonnel mines on 1 May 1995 when it told the United Nations, “Ecuador has decided not to issue permits for the export of this type of weapon [AP mines], if any requests for such permits are submitted in the future.”[4]


On 26 October 1998 the Presidents of Ecuador and Peru signed a peace agreement putting an end to a 57-year-old border conflict, which saw intense fighing in 1941, 1981 and February 1995. Tens of thousands of landmines were laid during the border conflict, most of them during the 1995 fighting.

While Ecuador acknowledges laying mines in the border region, Peru denies that its Army laid any mines, a denial Ecuador rejects.[5] On 3 May 1995, Ecuador’s Ambassador to the United States wrote to a U.S. Senator, “In the recent border war with Peru, my country was compelled to use landmines along its border with Peru and in the disputed area for defensive purposes only. The deployment and the utilization of such mines was done in conformity with...the Convention on Landmines of 1981 and its Protocol II.... [Ecuador] took all the necessary steps to assure the safety of the civilian population, including...clearly marking the mined areas...[and] a detailed register of the deployment of landmines was kept.”[6]

Landmine Problem

In its most recent landmine report, the U.S. State Department estimated the number of mines in Ecuador at 60,000-80,000.[7] The ICRC reportedly estimated 100,000.[8]

Amazonian indigenous people, the Shuar and Achuar, live on both sides of the border are affected by the presence or suspected presence of uncleared mines. In November 1998, the “Families Shuar and Achuar of the Frontier” issued a joint declaration to the international community, asking for the governments of both countries demine the border.[9] On 5 December 1998, the Ecuadorian Indian Confederation of the Amazonia (COICA in Spanish) demanded the clearance of landmines along the border.

According to media reports, over sixty people, both civilian and military, have been injured or killed by mines along the Ecuador-Peru border since 1995.

Mine Clearance

Since the Peace Accord was signed in Brazil on 26 October 1998, Ecuador and Peru have made significant progress in different issues related to the border situation, including mine clearance. Both countries asked the Ecuador/Peru Multinational Observation Mission (MOMEP) for support in order to achieve their goals. The MOMEP is made up of military representatives of the United States, Brazil, Argentina and Chile, the four countries that are guarantors of the 1942 Peace Protocol.

On 13 November 1998, MOMEP’s general coordinator, General Plinio Abreu said that a plan by the presidents of Ecuador and Peru, through Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso, to remove mines from the border had been completed at the strategic but not at the technical level.[10] It included disclosure from both sides on the sites “where mines were detected or planted.” The first phase of the clearance operation plan aims to establish boundary markings between the two countries. On 28 December 1998 clearance began at an area known as Lagartococha.[11] The Ecuadorian Army is training forty dogs in detection of landmines for use in the border clearance effort.

At the January 1999 Regional Seminar on Landmines in Mexico City, Ecuador and Peru made a joint presentation on the demining program of the Peruvian-Ecuadorian frontier. Both countries reaffirmed their committment to eradicate landmines and to make “a specific and tangible contribution toward the objective of the OAS to get a Hemisphere Free of Antipersonnel Landmines.”[12] Clearance work is divided between Peru and Ecuador, according to the geographical access of each country. According to the agreement, the demining groups of each country are integrated by officers and voluntary soldiers, one observer of MOMEP and another one of the other country.

Due to the high costs of the equipment, both countries are making efforts to work together to obtain international cooperation to reinforce the national efforts. At the Mexico City Seminar, Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy announced a donation of $100,000 (Canadian) in equipment to be used in the first phase of mine clearance.[13] Other nations are also contributing funds, equipment and technical support, including Japan, Spain, Russia and the United States.


[1] Agence France Presse Quito, 18 November 1998.

[2] Ibid.

[3] U.S. Army, Armament, Munitions, and Chemical Command (USAMCCOM), Letter to Human Rights Watch, 25 August 1993, and attached statistical tables.

[4] “Report of the Secretary General: Moratorium on the export of antipersonnel landmines,” A/50/701, 3 November 1995, p. 13.

[5] See: Letter from Ministro Juan M. Leoro, Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the OAS to the OAS Landmine Register,14 March 1997, N.029-97 MPE-OEA; letter from Ambassador Beatriz Ramaccion, Permenent Representative of Peru to the OAS, Washington DC, 1 March 1997,7-5-M/073; and letter from Ambassador Beatriz Ramaccion, Permenent Representative of Peru to the OAS, Washington DC, 21 April 1997,Nota 7-5-M/132.

[6] Letter from Ambassador Edgar Teran to Senator Patrick Leahy, No. 4-7-146/95, 3 May 1995.

[7] U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers, September 1998, p. A-1.

[8] Quito El Comercio, 29 December 1998.

[9] The declaration was dated 19 November 1998.

[10] Edwin Fernandez, “Plan to Remove Mines from Border Ready,” Quito El Comercio (Internet Version) in Spanish, 13 November 1998.

[11] “Fujimori: Demarcation Work Begins 28 Dec,” EFE, 12 December 1998.

[12] Remarks made at Regional Seminar on Landmines, Mexico City, Mexico, 11-12 January 1999.

[13] “Axworthy Announces Mine Action Funding in Latin America,” Press Release, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ottawa, Canada, 11 January 1999.