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Country Reports
FINLAND, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

It is of little surprise that Finland has not signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Finland has been one of the more vocal countries in support of the legitimate right of a government to self defense, including the use of APMs. While it did attend various of the Ottawa Process meetings as an observer, it was often outspoken in its opposition to a ban. Currently, Finland is the only country in the European Union that stands outside the Treaty and seems increasingly uncomfortable to be in that position.

In one analysis of the Finnish position, it was noted that the government had never expected that 122 countries would sign the Mine Ban Treaty and that it has become politically very difficult for the country. Finland does not want to be seen as an irresponsible member of the international community but continues to view APMs as vital for its defense. Finland fears signing the Treaty when potential aggressors have not, which it would see as harmful to its security. “The worst scenario for Finland would be to commit itself to a convention, 1) which prohibits defensive antipersonnel landmines but, 2) outside of which a number of militarily strong states decide to remain, and 3) which does not prohibit technologically advanced, remotely delivered mines, capable of being used for aggressive purposes.”[1]

In 1997 a governmental working group was created to examine the landmine question. In December of that year the group, comprised of officials from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense, declared that Finland is in the process of moving toward a total ban of antipersonnel mines and will be prepared to replace APMs with other methods of independent and reliable defense. At the same time, the governmental working group insisted that Finland needs additional money (several million US dollars) for such alternatives to APMs and that the time for the transitional period will be at least ten years. In the future Finland will allocate more money for the mine clearance programs and programs of mine awareness.[2]

According to the coordinator of the Finnish Campaign to Ban Landmines, an explanation for why APMS are regarded as being so important for Finland and why the country has found it impossible to join the Ottawa process is bound up with perceptions concerning threats it has faced in the past and the notion of what sort of defense it can pursue:

“Finland has a relatively big area with a small population and is a smaller nation with limited resources. Finland has a big neighbor, Russia, with whom it has fought two wars less than 60 years ago. Finland wants to have, and to give the signal that it has, a ‘strong, credible, independent defense,’ but because of its limited resources Finland has to depend more on the ‘psychological’ side; on all levels are strong patriotic feelings, a conscript army involving all men from 18 years etc. Due to limited resources Finland has not had the chance to build a ‘high-tech’ and ‘professional’ army even if developments are pushing it in that direction. Finland has one of the biggest European reserves when you look at the population number. The conscription-based reserve does not possess very developed weapons. If the military were to admit that APMS are an out-dated form of defense, they would risk a discussion on the relevance of the whole current defense doctrine and the ‘realism’ of current defense plans. It is a discussion the Finnish defense establishment is unready to take up.”[3]

Finland has also had major difficulties accepting the Ottawa process itself. Being situated between what is traditionally seen as the East and West it has always strongly underlined “realism” in its foreign political thinking, and this is something which it has been much respected for during the Cold War. The Ottawa Process did not seek the approval of the superpowers; the negotiation process has been very open (NGO-friendly and responsive) and based on a strongly optimistic vision that smaller and medium-size powers can make a difference. This new, changed approach and the fast timetable of the Process has been too hard for Finnish foreign politics to follow.

Between 1995 and 1999, however, the attitude of official Finland toward the total ban of APMs has evolved quite a lot. At first, its position was firmly against a ban because of Finland's “legitimate defense needs.” Finland argued that it could not accept a ban unilaterally because it does not believe that all the countries in the world would adhere to the ban.[4]

At a seminar on landmines held in the European Parliament in 1995, Mr. Pasi Patokallio, director of the unit on Non-proliferation and Arms Control at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, made the following remarks: “We know that many argue for a total ban on antipersonnel landmines. We don't agree, the reason being our legitimate defense needs, and I will come back on that. But even if a total ban were the best solution, the beast could once again turn out to be the enemy of the good. We certainly feel that it is better to gain a broad support for effective albeit limited steps (restrictions on use instead of a ban) than to end up with a situation where the total ban is adhered to by a very small group of Western countries while the rest of the world keeps its distance.”[5]

In August 1996 Foreign Minister Tarja Halonen admitted that in all probability an international ban would come about. The Minister voiced support for the European Union's joint efforts on the landmine question, but at the same time she stated that Finland could not unilaterally get rid of its APMs, which are so important for the country. The Minister also said that the “normal” way to negotiate would be through the Conference on Disarmament (CD). What was new here is that the Minister stated that the Ottawa and Geneva processes could be complementary.[6]

During the Ottawa Process, Finland's position softened a little, but its statements still strongly underlined the fact that if the country were to join a ban on APMs it would have to be “legally binding,” “global” and “verifiable.” Speaking at an event in Helsinki in August of 1996, the Foreign Minister offered the following comment: "But it is increasingly clear that in the end, only a prohibition of inhumane and indiscriminate landmines use can bring a real solution. To be effective, such a solution must be legally binding, global and verifiable. As the first step, all states should adhere to and abide by the significantly strengthened landmine protocol to the CCW. I find it very hard to understand why two out of three UN member states continue to remain outside the Convention. As concurrent step, Finland proposes the initiation of global negotiations on a treaty banning antipersonnel landmines altogether...The natural forum for such negotiations would be the single negotiating body for disarmament that the international community has at its disposal, namely the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva."[7]

In September 1997 during the Mine Ban Treaty negotiations in Oslo the (observer) Finnish delegation expressed support for a verifiable treaty:

“Finland believes that through a global and effective treaty it is possible to stop the further spread of APMs and hold those who use APMs against civilians population to account. This is why Finland has pronounced her support for a global, verifiable treaty banning APMs. This is not an easy commitment for us, given the fact that APMs continue to have an important role in our national defense, but we are ready to follow through that commitment provided that the treaty will truly affect the landmine crisis?.

“We also believe that there have to be effective mechanisms within the treaty to ensure that parties comply with the treaty commitments and that anyone not complying can be held accountable. Any future conflict will be the moment when credibility of the total ban treaty will be at stake; given the kind of conflicts where APMs have been used, mostly internal conflicts, one should not expect that the international community will be able to receive reliable information of violation of a total ban unless the treaty provides a mechanism for that. If it is possible to verify what is happening out in the field in conflict areas, the international community can have a credible norm. Efforts to water down the provision concerning verification of compliance through various filters and veto right for the suspected country only pave the way for the violation of the treaty commitment and are in flagrant contradiction with the humanitarian objectives of the process toward a total ban.”[8]

But on the time frame for the destruction of stockpiled APMs as compared to the clearance of minefields, Finland argued:

“Isn't there something wrong with the priorities from a humanitarian perspective? No limit is established for destruction of mines that are the most dangerous for civilians - those mines that are the scattered outside marked minefields. Marked minefields also kill civilians, if poorly marked or poorly guarded, or both. On the other hand, APMs in stockpiles do not per se pose a threat to civilians unless taken out for use in the field. Under the total ban treaty, stockpiles should not be the most urgent priority. Indeed, one could argue that, from the humanitarian perspective, the first thing to ask ought to be to ask that all APMs be withdrawn into military storage...One could even wonder whether the inadvertent message is that countries should deploy their stockpiled APMs in the field in the order to gain time for their destruction and replacement with other means. Surely that is not the message this conference should send. For us, stockpiles are the key issue because all of our APMs are in storage.”[9]

But even as the delegation in Oslo was expressing some support, eventually, for a ban, the contradictions within policy remained evident. On 4 September 1997, Finland’s Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen spelled out clear reservations to a unilateral ban on landmines. ”Why aren’t they proposing a ban on Kalasnikows? They are killing more people - have killed more people,” Lipponen told Reuters in an interview.[10]

Finland did send an observer delegation to Ottawa in December of 1997 for the signing of the Mine Ban Treaty. The day before the Treaty opened for signature in Ottawa, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs issued a press release stating that “Finland takes part in the Ottawa Meeting as a observer. A group of officers are to present a report for a total ban of APMs. It is researching how to replace the use of APMs in Finland's defense.”[11]

Current Finnish policy is to voice support for the total ban of APMs[12] and the government has indicated its “readiness” to ban antipersonnel landmines at some future date. “It is a process which will become true maybe in ten years time,” according to Lt. Col. Kukko from the Main Headquarters.[13]

Finland has signed and ratified both the original and the revised Protocol 2 of the CCW.[14]

As already noted, Finland has always supported the possibility of landmine negotiations in the CD and has been in the core of CD supporters, even after softening its position toward the Ottawa Process. In a statement to the First Committee of the United Nations in November of 1996, Counselor for Foreign Affairs Iivo Salmi outlined the Finnish position:

“The CD is an established forum which is available for new negotiations after the conclusion of CTBT?Provided that the political will is there. The only other credible alternative is the CCW process but it may not have an other review conference until 2001. We believe that the work at the CD could start faster and that the negotiations could be more intensive?.The CD would not be unaffected by the political momentum that largely thanks within the CD, the momentum would increase and, we believe, expand into countries which are not yet committed to the goal of total ban. Accusations that the support for the CD as the forum would be a delaying tactic are totally unfounded. The momentum is there and it will remain....It is clear that the CD route would bring into the process countries that are not able to commit themselves here and now to an APL ban. This would be a more painful road to follow compared with a ‘quick fix.’ But through such a process, the commitment of most, if not all, those participating in the negotiations, would grow.?if a process could be started within in the CD, we believe that a treaty is achievable within a couple of years.”[15]

Finland believed then and continues to believe that the way forward within the CD was through the appointment of a special coordinator to help establish an ad hoc committee to deal with issues related to antipersonnel mines:

“In order to obtain an effective ban, all the relevant countries should, from the outset, participate in the negotiations: as my minister announced at UN general Assembly last September Finland regards the CD as the most suitable forum for the negotiations on APLs [antipersonnel landmines]. With its members and observers, the Conference on Disarmament is a negotiating body of more than 90 countries. To reach concrete and notable results soon, a step-by-step approach could be considered as away forward. Now we are facing a procedural challenge: how to respond to this global call? The Conference on Disarmament should establish an ad-hoc committee on antipersonnel landmines and start serious negotiations. Therefore as an immediate task we would kindly invite you, Mr. President, to seek an urgent agreement on the appointment of a special coordinator to consult the way in which the issue of antipersonnel landmines could best be moved forward."[16]

Even though a special coordinator was appointed (Australian Ambassador Campbell), the CD has not proved capable of any agreement on discussions on landmines. Various countries oppose such discussions for a variety of reasons, not all of which are related to the concern of some that to negotiate anything related to APMs in the CD would undercut the establishment of the international norm provided by the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty. Finland continues to support, along with others, negotiations on a transfer ban of APMs in the CD. In February of 1999, the Bulgarian Ambassador to the CD issued a statement, co-sponsored by 21 other governments including Finland, calling upon the CD to begin negotiations of an antipersonnel landmine transfer ban.


The Finnish government has stated that it does not produce antipersonnel mines and has not done so since 1981.[17] Almost all APMs in stock are Finnish-made mines. The capability and the know-how to produce APMs exists and it is, in principle, possible that while there is no legislation which forbids production, it could begin if and when the government were to decide to do so.[18]

Until 1981 several Finnish companies produced components for simple mines which the army assembled as blast mines,[19] fragmentation mines,[20] and also some Claymore mines.[21] Finland will not give details of the costs of producing and/or acquiring its mines. But as one army officer noted, “We do not give this information to the public, but they are more advantageous to produce in the large amounts.”[22]

Information about APMs is not secret but neither is it easily available. Because the mines are Finnish-made it is quite difficult to compare them with international types and codes. Some known types include the SM 65-98 blast mine; the PM 68 stake mine,[23]which according to a Defense Staff official is only used in command-detonation mode although it is possible to use them with tripwires;[24] and the VM 88 directional fragmentation explosive,[25] which like the PM 68 is to be used in command detonation mode although it can be used with a tripwire.[26]

According to the Defense Staff: “Antipersonnel mines are all produced by the Defense Force. Some components are may be bought from outside but never explosives.”[27] Nor has Finland licensed production of APMs in another country.[28] An official of the Ministry of Defense said that "Finland does not transfer APM production technology to any other country. This concerns the CCW obligation which came into force on 3 December 1998.”[29]

Finland does not produce Claymore mines and now classifies all Claymore mines as munitions, to be used in command-detonation mode only.[30] But they have not been modified to make it impossible to trigger them by tripwires.[31]

According to the Defense Staff, “Finland does not produce or conduct research on munitions which could function as APMs. The Pohjamiina is an antitank mine which is of no danger to civilians. We follow CCW obligations very seriously and all the equipment is adjusted to CCW specifications.”[32] On the other hand researcher Arto Nokkala notes that APM technology is very simple and from that perspective it is easy for any country to resume production of such weapons in the event of a change in policy. Finland, with its advanced electronics industry, has the basic capacity to develop devices which are allowed in treaties.[33]

Lieutenant-colonel Jaakko Martikainen from the Defense Staff affirms that Finland does not produce APM components, nor delivery systems that can be used for APMs.[34] And the military is monitoring the development of alternatives being researched in other countries.[35] Arto Nokkala says that it is difficult to assess such development, but Finland probably does research on systems which can replace APMs and which are in accordance with different treaties it has signed.[36]


Finland does not export APMs.[37] According to a senior government official in the Ministry of Defense, Finland has never exported APMs.[38] Additionally, Finland has announced that it “seeks to end the export and production of antipersonnel landmines worldwide. Finland has never itself exported antipersonnel landmines, nor has there been any antipersonnel landmine production in Finland since 1981.”[39] Finland has made political declarations regarding exports but made no legally-binding decisions.[40] However Lieutenant-colonel Yrjö Kukko of the Defense Force stated, “Finland has exported components of mines but never whole APMs.”[41]

Finland has imported Claymore mines. The name of the model is VM 88, which probably means that the import year was1988. No other information is available.

Information also exists that bounding fragmentation mines had been bought from Germany in the 1940's, but the government denies that they are still in stockpiles and the Finnish Campaign to Ban Landmines has been told that the army no longer trains troops to use bounding fragmentation mines.[42]

The transit of APMs is not possible except with the permission of the Ministry of Defense or Council of the State. If APMs come from a country which is the member of the European Union, Finland considers that another member country has prepared the documents needed before transiting any munitions through Finland. The transit of components and technology is also forbidden without permission.[43] Lieutenant Colonel Kukko says that the transit of APMs is speculative anyway as such a situation would not come about very easily given that Finland's attitude is quite negative.[44]


Finland does not release precise information on the total number of mines in stock.[45] The official statement is that they number in the hundreds of thousands but less than a million.[46] The Finnish national daily, Helsingin Sanomat, has estimated quantities of APMs as more than the official range given: “The military does not want to tell how many APMs Finland has in stock. When the Ministry of Defense says ‘enough’ and the Defense Staff says ‘plenty,’ it is possible to estimate that there are millions of APMs in stock. There are probably fewer Claymore mines because they are more expensive than APMs.”[47]

The Finnish Campaign has doubts that range of numbers of mines made public is close to accurate. “The stated amount is in clear contradiction with statements that APMs are an essential part of Finland's defense, and especially in consideration of Finland's long land border [with Russia] and with the statement that it would be very expensive to consider alternatives and destroy the stocks because Finland has more landmines on average than other European countries.”[48]

Finland is not going to destroy stockpiles before it finds alternatives to APMs for its defense and signs the Mine Ban Treaty. A press release of 28 August 1998 from the Council of State announced that: “Research on Finland's possibilities to join to the total ban of APMs and to find replacing methods and arrangements will be continued. The aim is that first time the use of alternative methods and arrangements...is considered to happen by the year 2001.”[49] Even so, the government working group on landmines has suggested that if Finland finds alternatives to APMs for its defense, plus the money to acquire them, and then if Finland were to sign the Treaty in 2006, it would destroy all the APMs by the year 2010.[50]

But in compliance with the CCW’s revised Protocol 2, Finland has had to adapt some of its existing mines and also destroy others. Finland has destroyed its old SM 57 and SM 61 blast mines. “We started to destroy old blast mines already before the end of last year (1998) and they are already all destroyed,” according to Lieutenant Colonel Heikki Bäckström.[51]

The Defense Force is also obliged to make changes to SM 65 blast-mines,[52] which are still part of Finland's defense but do not contain enough metal to make them detectable – a requirement under revised Protocol II. After these changes these mines will be renamed Sakaramiina 65-98s. As noted above, Claymore mines are no longer defined as antipersonnel mines; as of 3 December 1998, they were classified as directional fragmentation explosives.[53] All these old mines have been destroyed in Lapland or parts have been recycled. For example all the copper has been collected for re-use. [54]


Finland continues to reserve the right to use APMs, Claymore mines and other weapons that might function as APMs. Thus, the statement from a Defense Force Brigadier General that “antipersonnel landmines are still an essential part of the Finnish defense doctrine.” However, the General also adds that “There are no minefields in peacetime in Finland.”[55] Many people believe that there are minefields in the guarded and closed border zone between Finland and Russia. All official statements refute this common belief.[56]

Mine Action Funding[57]

For various humanitarian mine action programs, Finland has spent US$14,445,000 between 1991-1998. The first country to receive support was Afghanistan, which received a total of US$1.5 million. between 1991-1994. During 1995 Finland allocated US$715,000 for mine programs in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Angola and Mozambique. That same year, the government spent US$715,000 to send mine clearance specialists on a fact-finding mission to Angola and Mozambique, in conjunction with UNDHA to assess the possibility of Finnish in-kind assistance and expertise for DHA demining operations.

In 1996 the total amount spent was US$1,306,000 US, including in-kind contributions and mine clearance equipment worth US$196,000 for Angola and Mozambique; US$435,000 through the Finnish Red Cross and WHO for prostheses for mine victims in Bosnia; US$22,000 for a rehabilitation program of Save the Children in Bosnia; and direct contributions of US$218,000 and US$435,000 for Cambodia and Afghanistan respectively for mine clearance operations.

Finnish allocations more than tripled in 1997 to US$4,478,000 for mine-action programs in Angola, Afghanistan, Mozambique, Cambodia and Laos. Of those funds, US$163,000 was allocated to establish a Finnish stand-by unit for humanitarian demining.

In 1998, the last year for which a breakdown of figures is available, Finland allocated US$6,565,000 mostly for mine action programs in Angola, Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Mozambique. Of the total, US$196,000 was channeled through the Finnish Red Cross to produce prostheses in Bosnia, and finally, US$1,620,000 was spent to purchase demining vehicles for the Finnish stand-by unit.

Between 1998-2001, Finland will allocate US$22.56 million for mine action programs.[58]


[1]Lauri Hannikainen, Correspondents’ Reports, Comments on Finland’s Position on Anti-Personnel Landmines: Fact Sheet of the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Political Department, 26 August 1997, Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law, Volume 1, T.M.C. Asser Press, 1998, pp. 436-437.

[2]Ministry for Foreign Affairs, press release No 352, 16 December, 1997; Jalkaväkimiinatyöryhmän raportti (Report of the APM Working Group), Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 16 December, 1997.

[3] Laura Lodenius, 25 February 1999.

[4]Newspapers: Kansanuutiset, 29 June, 1995 and Helsingin Sanomat, 27 July 1995.

[5]Pasi Patokallio, Director of the Unit on Non-Proliferation and Arms Control, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, at a seminar of The European Parliament on Finland's position towards a ban, 22 March 1995.

[6]Minister for Foreign Affairs Tarja Halonen, speech at Hiroshima event in Helsinki, 6 August 1996.

[7]Minister for Foreign Affairs Tarja Halonen, United Nations, 27 September 1996.

[8]Ambassador Pasi Patokallio, head of the Finnish observer delegation, Diplomatic Conference on an International Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Landmines, Oslo, Norway, 2 September 1997.


[10]Newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, 5 September 1997.

[11]Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Press Release, 2 December 1997.

[12]Council of State, Report to the Parliament, 17 March 1997.

[13]Interview with Lieutenant Colonel Yrjö Kukko, Main Headquarters, Defense Force, 12 December 1998.

[14]Finland signed the CCW treaty 10 April 1981 and ratified it 8 May 1982. Finland signed the revised protocol 2 and ratified it 3 April, 1998, Defense Forces, Press Release 200, 2 December 1998.

[15]Counselor for Foreign Affairs Iivo Salmi, First Committee of the United Nations, 4 November 1996.

[16]Ambassador Markku Reimaa, Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, January 1997.

[17]Defense Staff, Press Release, 3 December 1998; Interview with Lieutenant Colonel, Jaakko Martikainen, Ministry of Defense, 5 February 1999.

[18]Laura Lodenius, Finnish Campaign Coordinator, 31 January 1999.

[19]In Finnish, “polkumiina tai räjähdemiina.”

[20]In Finnish, “sirpaloituvat miinat (putkimiina).”

[21]Directional fragmentation mine in Finnish, “sirpaloituva viuhkamiina.” Nowadays classified as munitions.

[22]Kukko, 5 February 1999.

[23]International classification U/I FI (AP.1).

[24]Mikkonen, 18 February 1999.

[25]“Sirpale viuhkaräjähdepanos” in Finnish; a Claymore-type mine.

[26]Mikkonen, 18 February, 1999;. Miinojen käyttö Suomen puolustuksessa (Using Mines in Finland's Defense), Ministry of Defense, Seminar on Landmines, 1 October 1997.

[27]Interview with Lieutenant Colonel Jaakko Martikainen, Defense Staff, 5 February 1999.

[28]Mikkonen, 18 February 1999.

[29]Kukko, 5 Feburary1999.

[30]Ibid; also Martikainen, 5 February 1999.

[31]Mikkonen, 18 February 1999.

[32]Martikainen, 5 February 1999.

[33]Interview with Arto Nokkala, 14 February 1999.

[34]Martikainen, 5 February 1999.

[35]Kukko, 12 February 1999.

[36]Interview with Arto Nokkala, 14 February 1999.

[37]Defense Force, Press Release no: 200, 2 December 1998.

[38]Interview with Senior Governmental Secretary Jari Takanen, Ministry of Defense, 5 February 1999.

[39]Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Press Release no 292, 22 August 1996.

[40]Defense Force, Press Release no: 200, 2 December 1998; Takanen, 5 February 1999.

[41]Kukko, 12 February 1999.

[42]Lodenius, 31 January 1999.

[43]Interview with Senior Customs Inspector Siv Kanerva, National Board of Customs, 18 February 1999.

[44]Kukko, 12 February 1999.

[45]Kukko, 5 February 1999.

[46]Remarks of Major Markku Nikkilä, 21 September 1995.

[47]Newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, 23 November 1997.

[48]Lodenius, 31 January 1999.

[49]Council of State, Press Release 171/98, 28 August 1998.

[50]Report on antipersonnel mines, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 16 December 1997.

[51]Interview with Lieutenant Colonel Heikki Bäckström , 22 December 1999.

[52]Sakaramiina SM 65.

[53]Defense Staff, Press Release, 3 December 1998.

[54]Bäckström, 22 February 1999.

[55]Brigadier General Kari Rimpi, Defense Force, Press Release, 2 December 1998.

[56]Lodenius, 31 January 1999.

[57]Finnish assistance on mine action in 1991-1998, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Department for International Development Cooperation, Unit for Humanitarian Assistance, 25 January 1999.

[58]Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Department for International Development Cooperation, Press Release, 18 December 1998.