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Country Reports
LESOTHO, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


The Kingdom of Lesotho signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 4 December 1997 and ratified nearly one year later, on 2 December 1998. Lesotho endorsed the Brussels Declaration and made a statement to the Brussels Conference affirming its commitment to a total ban on antipersonnel landmines before the end of 1997.[1] Lesotho was a full participant to the Oslo treaty negotiations. It also supported the June 1997 OAU resolution, based on the OAU Kempton Park meeting’s "Plan of Action." Lesotho voted for the key 1996 and 1998 UN General Assembly resolutions on landmines but was absent from the 1997 resolution.

Lesotho maintains a small armed force, ostensibly in order to protect the royal family and the preserve national security. Throughout the Cold War period, Lesotho had to contend with frequent cross-border raids by South Africa acting against rebels of the African National Congress (ANC). Controversy surrounding the May 1998 general elections led to chaos and a state of ungovernability in the country,[2] and ultimately the South African-led SADC intervention on the 22 September 1998.

Lesotho is not known to have produced or exported antipersonnel mines. Lesotho states that it does not maintain a stockpile of landmines. However, during the recent problems, rebel soldiers of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) claimed that they had a large quantity of arms in safe houses around the capital of Maseru and in surrounding villages, including 2000 AK-47 rifles, limpet mines and landmines.[3] There were no allegations of use of mines during this time.

Despite its conflict ridden past, this tiny mountain Kingdom is believed to be one of only two countries in Southern Africa unaffected by mines (the other being Mauritius) and is listed as such by the United Nations. There are no reports of uncleared mines.


[1]Statement by the Lesotho Delegation to the Brussels Conference, June 1997.

[2]Stephen Rule, The Lesotho Election, May 1998. (EISA: Johannesburg, 1998)

[3]Weekly Mail and Guardian, (Johannesburg), 2 October 1998.