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Country Reports
FALKLANDS/MALVINAS, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


The Falklands/Malvinas are administered by the United Kingdom but claimed by Argentina, and have been a disputed territory between these two countries since the nineteenth century.[1] In April 1982, Argentine military forces occupied the territory but were defeated two months later on 14 June by the U.K. forces in a short but bloody naval, air and ground war. Thousands of antipersonnel and antitank mines were laid on the Falklands/Malvinas by both parties to the conflict.

Both Argentina and the United Kingdom have signed the Mine Ban Treaty but to date, only the U.K. has ratified. As the islands are under the authority of the United Kingdom, it is obliged to clear the island territory within ten years after the treaty has entered into force -- this means by 1 March 2009.

Argentina and the UK both acknowledge using mines during the conflict. (See also U.K. and Argentina country reports). Argentina states it has handed to the British maps of where the mines were laid.[2] Many of the mines used were remotely-delivered (scatterable) antipersonnel and antitank mines. The United Nations lists at least nine types of landmines found in the Falklands/Malvinas including the following antipersonnel mines: No. 4 (Israel), SB-33 (Italy), FMK-1 plastic blast mine (Argentina) and PB4 (Spain).[3]

Estimates of the number of landmines buried in the Falklands/Malvinas vary greatly. In 1993, the U.S. Department of State estimated 500,000 mines, then lowered this figure drastically in 1994 to “117 identified minefields, with a total of 25-30,000 landmines.”[4] In 1998 the State Department reported 101 mined areas totaling twenty square kilometers.[5] The official UK assessment is that there is no reliable figure for the number of Argentine mines in the Falklands, but the “best current estimate is that some 18,000 Argentine mines and similar devices of various types were laid, including some 14,000 antipersonnel landmines.”[6]

The main problem areas for landmines are located in and around the parts of the islands which saw conflict: Port Howard, Port Fitzroy, Fox Bay, Darwin, Goose Green, and especially around Port Stanley. There is an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Operation Center in Port Stanley which reminds locals and visitors that “all parts of the Falklands/Malvinas may contain dangerous materials and ammunition.”[7] Mines laid in peat and beach sand sometimes move from their original locations. The UK government maintains that “remaining minefields, or areas where it is suspected that mines might be, have been marked and fenced. These areas are monitored regularly to ensure that remaining mines present no danger to civilian or military personnel on the Islands.”[8] The 1998 Hidden Killers report by the U.S. Department of State lists a total of 14 casualties to landmines in the Falklands/Malvinas.[9] Since the war ended, 4,220 mines have been cleared along with 2,713,658 assorted pieces of unexploded ordnance.[10]

On 17 November 1998, Argentina’s representative told the United Nations General Assembly the Argentina and the UK had “signed a declaration through which they agreed to work together on the evaluation...and costs of the removal of antipersonnel mines in Malvinas Islands,”[11] and that the governments hoped to arrive soon at an Memorandum of Understanding describing the way in which this evaluation will be carried out.



[2]Information provided by the Argentine Foreign Ministry in response to a LM questionnaire in January 1999.

[3]See UN Country Database- www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/country/falkland.htm

[4] United States Department of State, Hidden Killers: The Global Problem with Uncleared Landmines, July 1993, p. 172; and United States Department of State, Hidden Killers: The Global Landmine Crisis, December 1994, p. 22.

[5]United States Department of State, Hidden Killers: The Global Landmine Crisis, September 1998, p. A-4.

[6]Hansard, 28 April 1998, cols. 64-65

[7]UN Country Database - www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/country/falkland.htm

[8]Hansard, 28 April 1998, cols. 64-65.

[9] U.S. State Department, Hidden Killers, September 1998, p. A-4.

[10]UN Country Database - www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/country/falkland.htm,

[11] Intervencion de la Delegacion Argentina en el Tema 42: Asistencia para el Desminado, Nueva York, 17 de Noviembre de 1998.