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NEW ZEALAND, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

New Zealand’s Minister of Youth Affairs and Associate Minister of Women’s Affairs, the Honourable Deborah Morris, signed the Mine Ban Treaty in Ottawa, Canada on 3 December 1997. In a statement to the signing conference, she noted,“In a sense landmines is not just a matter of foreign policy or defense: it is a youth issue and a women’s issue.”[1]

One year after New Zealand signed the ban treaty, its ratification and implementing legislation --the “Antipersonnel Mines Prohibition Bill”-- completed its progress through Parliament. The legislation (referred to hereafter as the Act) was given the Royal Assent on 8 December 1998 and came into force the following day. New Zealand deposited its instrument of ratification at the United Nations in New York on 27 January 1999, the sixty-fourth nation to do so.

New Zealand first spoke in support of a total and immediate ban on antipersonnel landmines during the September 1995 Vienna session of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Review Conference. On 22 April 1996, at the Geneva opening of the final session of the CCW Review, New Zealand unilaterally renounced the operational use of antipersonnel mines through a joint statement by the Minister of Defence and the Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control.[2] This decision to renounce antipersonnel landmines came after three years of campaigning by non-governmental organizations under the umbrella of the New Zealand Campaign Against Landmines (CALM). Upon ratifying the ban treaty New Zealand’s Disarmament and Arms Control Minister, Don McKinnon, acknowledged the role of NGOs in making the ban a reality: "This has been a unique international movement. New Zealanders have played a significant role internationally in efforts to negotiate a ban on antipersonnel mines. They have been supported back home by the New Zealand Campaign Against Landmines (CALM) and many other groups."[3]

During the parliamentary debate on the ratification and implementation legislation, McKinnon explained the policy change this way: "New Zealand has already declared that we do not need antipersonnel landmines. Our forces have not used them since the Korean War, and we hold no stocks of these weapons. In 1996 the Government announced a moratorium on the use of landmines, which resulted in our Defence Force unilaterally renouncing the use of landmines as a weapon of war. By signing the Ottawa treaty, the Government made it clear that we will explore all avenues for achieving a complete global ban, and that is what this Bill seeks to do."[4]

New Zealand attended the early meetings of pro-ban governments during the close of the CCW Review in 1996 and from then on participated in the Core Group of countries driving the Ottawa Process. It signed the Brussels Declaration, actively supported the key General Assembly resolutions and in the lead-up to the December signing ceremonies, New Zealand encouraged as many countries as possible to sign the ban treaty.[5]

New Zealand is a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons, and ratified the amended Landmines Protocol on 8 January 1998. It is also one of the more recent members of the Conference on Disarmament. New Zealand's strong preference is to promote the Mine Ban Treaty, not lesser measures through the CD because “New Zealand believes that the best way to push forward is to continue to extend the Ottawa membership, not to develop new instruments that run the risk of diluting support for all mine control and elimination measures.”[6]

Antipersonnel Mines Prohibition Act

The prohibitions in the domestic ban bill apply anywhere in New Zealand territory and in Tokelau, a dependent territory administered by New Zealand.[7] Engaging in prohibited activity is made an offense at domestic law, punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years or a fine not exceeding N.Z.$500,000 (approximately U.S.$250,000). Antitank mines, antihandling devices and Claymore mines are not covered. Claymore mines are considered to be command-detonated devices and hence excluded from the Act. The rigging of Claymores so as to detonate by tripwire is a technique no longer taught or practiced by the New Zealand Defence Force.[8]

The Act contains a provision which allows a member of the armed forces "in the course of his or her duties, to participate in operations, exercises, or other military activities with armed forces of a state not a party to the Convention that engage in conduct prohibited by Section 7 (1), if that participation does not amount to active assistance in the prohibited conduct."[9]

The Act does not contain provisions with regard to international cooperation and assistance in areas such as demining, assisting mine victims, developing mine awareness programmes and sharing information on the means and technologies of mine clearance. They are considered as executive or administrative matters and not necessary to be included in legislation.[10]

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, Use

New Zealand has never produced or exported antipersonnel landmines.[11] In the past, New Zealand imported mines. U.S. Army records show that New Zealand imported 5,634 M18A1 Claymore mines from the United States from 1969-1988, with the most recent shipments of 3,096 mines in 1983 and 852 mines in 1988.[12] Another official U.S. government source indicates that the U.S. shipped 6,486 antipersonnel mines to New Zealand, including 4,800 mines in the period 1983-1992 but there is no breakdown of each year or mine type.[13] Under the new Antipersonnel Mines Prohibition Act, antipersonnel mines are prohibited outright in New Zealand and will fall within the ambit of the Customs and Excise Act 1996, allowing the New Zealand Customs Service to exercise import and export controls from the time antipersonnel mines enter New Zealand territorial waters.[14]

Rather than sell or transfer, New Zealand destroyed its small stockpile of antipersonnel and antitank landmines when the “de facto” ban was declared in 1996 and now there are no antipersonnel or antitank landmines belonging to the Army.[15] New Zealand retains a small stockpile of command-detonated Claymore mines.

New Zealand’s military has a history of mine use in conflicts dating from World War Two to Korea, but since 1996, operational use of antipersonnel mines has been banned. The Prohibition Act allows the presence and use of antipersonnel mines only as per the conditions of the Mine Ban Treaty regarding training and specifies that the Minister in charge may authorize use antipersonnel mines for this purpose. The Minister must specify, by notice in the official legislation journal (The Gazette), the number of antipersonnel mines determined to be the number absolutely necessary for the allowed purposes.[16] According to the government, however, the New Zealand Army does even not hold live mines for training purposes at the moment: "No live APMs are retained for operational or training purposes.... All mines being retained are either practice or inert and contain no explosives."[17]

Mine Action Funding

New Zealand’s involvement in humanitarian mine action dates back to the end of the Cold War when it sent military personnel to assist the United Nations in establishing an indigenous mine action program in Afghanistan. Since then, New Zealand has assisted the United Nations in mine action in countries including Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Croatia, Laos, Mozambique and Namibia, and for the last few years has seconded two personnel to UN Headquarters in New York to assist in the management of these mine action programs.[1818] The assistance provided by New Zealand Defence Force personnel has included training, mine clearance and destruction, logistics support, planning demining operations and survey operations. New Zealand’s contribution to mine action is a matter of considerable pride for the government and its citizens.

New Zealand’s in-kind commitments are supplemented by funding which, since 1992, totals N.Z. $2,793,000 (approximately U.S. $1,710,000).[19] Recipients include governmental programs such as the Angolan National Demining Program (INAROE) and the Lao UXO program; the UN Trust Fund for Mine Clearance; UN agencies and headquarters; the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC); and schools conducting training and research into demining, prosthetics, rehabilitation and mine detection. For example, the New Zealand branch of the Cambodia Trust (Aotearoa-New Zealand) has received N.Z.$200,000 over a four year period (approximately U.S. $120,000) which has gone toward supporting the Cambodia School of Prosthetics and Orthotics. The New Zealand Embassy in Bangkok has made two small grants to the School for the purchase of equipment. Rehab Craft Cambodia, a rehabilitation programme for disabled in Cambodia, has been assisted in part by Government subsidies.

New Zealand is completely clear of minefields and unexploded ordnance. There have been New Zealand civilian, military and peacekeeping casualties from landmines but no detailed data is available on these individuals. One recent case involved a New Zealand nurse, Maggie Bryson, who was injured when the vehicle she was traveling in hit an antitank mine in Kosovo, killing an ICRC doctor and injuring two others.[20]


[1]Statement by the New Zealand Head of Delegation, Honourable Deborah Morris, Minister of Youth Affairs at the Signing Ceremony, Ottawa, 3 December 1997.

[2]Antipersonnel Mines Prohibition Bill, Explanatory Note, November 1998.

[3]“NZ Ratifies Antipersonnel Mines Ban,” Media Statement by Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control, 28 January 1999.

[4]Rt Hon. Don McKinnon, Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control, Second Reading debate on the Antipersonnel Mines Prohibition Bill, 30 June 1998.

[5]Hon. Simon Upton, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Letter to Neil Mander, Convenor of CALM, 17 November 1998.

[6]Grahame Morton, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Email Correspondence with LM Researcher, 16 February 1999

[7]Antipersonnel Mines Prohibition Act 1998.

[8]Antipersonnel Mines Prohibition Bill - Report from the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, 14 September 1998.

[9]Antipersonnel Mines Prohibition Act 1998.

[10]Antipersonnel Mines Prohibition Bill - Report from the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, 14 September 1998.

[11]Brigadier C W Lilley, Deputy Chief of General Staff, NZ Defence Force, Letter to Neil Mander, Convenor CALM, 23 February 1999.

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

[13]Letter from Valerie Belon, Demining Action Officer, US Dept. of State, to Human Rights Watch, 29 March 1994, and attached table from the Defense Security Assistance Agency, "US Landmine Sales by Country."

[14]Hon Simon Upton, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Letter to Neil Mander, Convenor of CALM, 17 November 1998.

[15]Interview with Captain Martin Donoghue, 6 October 1998.

[16]Antipersonnel Mines Prohibition Act 1998 Section 8 (a) and Section 11.

[17]Brigadier C. W. Lilley, Deputy Chief of General Staff, NZ Defence Force, Letter to Neil Mander, Convenor CALM, 23 February 1999.

[18]Hon Simon Upton, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Letter to Neil Mander, Convenor of CALM, 17 November 1998.

[19]Hon Simon Upton, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Letter to Neil Mander, Convenor of CALM, 17 November 1998. Note: all conversions from NZ dollars to US dollars have been calculated on an average exchange rate for the year concerned (1994-1999) and NZ$1 = US$0.58 for 1992-1993. Source: Exchange rate records kept by Neil Mander.

[20]“Red Cross Doctor Dies in Kosovo Blast”, Reuters Pristina, 30 September 1998.