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Country Reports
UNITED KINGDOM, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

The UK’s position on antipersonnel landmines (APMs) has progressed significantly since 1994, culminating in its participation in the Ottawa Process, and the signing and ratification of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. While the UK attended the first meeting of what became the Ottawa Process in October 1996, it was not part of the early core group of pro-ban countries. Also in October 1996 the UK signed an EU Joint Action supporting a comprehensive global ban at the earliest possible date, supporting mine clearance and implementing a common export moratorium on all APMs.[1] The UK subsequently supported the key December 1996 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 51/45S, urging states to pursue vigorously an international agreement to ban landmines, passed by a vote of 156-0, with ten abstentions. Even so, until after May 1997 British general election, the UK was not fully committed to the Ottawa Process and a rapid solution to the global landmine crisis.

Immediately after the election of a new (Labor) government in May 1997 a new UK policy was announced. First, the destruction of all APM stocks and a ban on their use by 2005 at the latest. Second, a moratorium on use until either 2005 or an “effective international agreement enters into force, whichever comes first.” Third, to negotiate “constructively” for an international ban in the Ottawa Process while working in the Conference on Disarmament for a wider ban. Finally, to retain use in “exceptional circumstances” authorized by Ministers and reported to Parliament; this included the potential use of the JP233 airfield denial weapon (containing the HB876 air-scattered antipersonnel mines), and the L27 antitank mine.[2]

In a written answer to a Parliamentary Question by Helen Jackson MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Robin Cook said:

We shall implement our manifesto commitment to ban the import, export, transfer and manufacture of all forms of anti-personnel landmines. We will accelerate the phasing out of our stocks of anti-personnel landmines and complete it by 2005 or when an effective international agreement to ban their use enters into force, whichever comes first. In the meantime we have introduced a complete moratorium on their operational use, while we participate constructively in the Ottawa Process.[3]

This positive change in policy, however, was not fully reflected by the UK delegation to the Inter-Governmental Conference for a Total Ban on Antipersonnel Landmines, held in Brussels in June 1997. For example, the UK requested an exemption from any requirement to clear minefields in the Falklands/Malvinas; this was sought on the grounds that full clearance may not be economically viable and that it is of lesser priority than mine clearance in Angola and other severely affected countries. UK nongovernmental organization (NGO) observers reported that the UK government delegates were skeptical about the Ottawa Process and apparently remained convinced of the military utility of APMs.[4] However, in its closing statement in Brussels, the UK delegation expressed its hope that more countries would join the Ottawa Process, and that the Oslo meeting would lead to an “effective international agreement that we will be able to sign.”[5]

By the time of the Oslo Diplomatic Conference of September 1997, to negotiate the final text of the Treaty, the UK was a full participant in the Ottawa Process. Surprisingly to some NGO observers in Oslo, the UK delegation remained silent in the face of US proposals that would have seriously undermined the Treaty – unlike, for example, Spain and Japan, which strongly supported the US in the negotiations.

On 12 November 1997, Clare Short, Secretary of State for International Development, announced that she would sign the treaty in Ottawa in December.

I shall proudly sign on behalf of Britain to join the landmine ban. I will emphasise the Government's commitment to achieving the widest possible support for a total ban on anti-personnel landmines. We shall follow up the Ottawa Convention in other negotiating bodies. We shall also pursue with vigour our programme of de-mining. The British delegation will take part in the parallel round table discussions, which will include discussion of plans to speed up and coordinate de-mining internationally.[6]

On 3 December 1997 Clare Short signed the Mine Ban Treaty on behalf of the United Kingdom.

Ratification and Implementing Legislation

The UK Parliament has no formal, constitutional role in treaty making.[7] Instead, the power to make treaties is vested in the executive. It is the practice in the UK for treaties simply to be laid before Parliament by the executive for at least three weeks, following which the government can proceed with the deposition of instruments of ratification with the United Nations. However, Parliament does have a role when a treaty requires a change in UK law for its implementation. Article 9 of the Mine Ban Treaty required the UK to take appropriate administrative and legal measures, including the imposition of penal sanctions, to prevent breaches of the treaty’s provisions on UK territory.

Having signed the treaty, the UK government repeatedly stated that the Parliamentary timetable was too full to provide time for adopting implementing legislation, and no commitment was made to a future date when such time would be made available. The government had previously announced that it would be one of the first forty countries to ratify the Convention. Following public and media pressure, on 1 July 1998 Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that a bill would be put before Parliament before its summer recess. On 3 July 1998 a Landmines Bill was published to bring implementation of the treaty into British law, and to enable the UK to ratify it. This started the main stages of its passage through Parliament in the House of Commons a week later. The Landmines Act received Royal Assent on 28 July and the United Kingdom formally deposited its instrument of ratification with the United Nations on 31 July 1998, placing it among the first forty to ratify.

The Landmines Bill was not published without criticism. Among NGOs, including the UK Working Group on Landmines (UKWGLM), the most important concern was, and remains, Clause 5, (now Section 5), which the UKWGLM believes is contrary to the Mine Ban Treaty’s Article 1 prohibitions. The bill created a loophole for British forces engaged in “international military operations,” such as NATO operations, with countries not party to the treaty (for example the U.S.). It provides a defense for people committing an offense relating to antipersonnel mines when they take part in a military operation, or the planning of a military operation, which takes place “wholly or mainly outside the United Kingdom.” In these circumstances the legislation effectively prohibits only the actual laying of APMs.

Despite political opposition, Clause 5 remained in the Bill passed by Parliament. The government has made a number statements on the issue, some of which gave a more positive interpretation of the “US/NATO loophole” in the Landmines Act than can be read from the wording of the Act itself.

Sections 5(2) and 5(3) provide that in proceedings for an alleged violation, “it is a defense for the accused to prove that —

(a) the conduct was in the course of, or for the purposes of, a military operation or the planning of a military operation;

(b) the conduct was not the laying of an antipersonnel mine

(3) This section applies to a military operation if —

(a) it takes place wholly or mainly outside the United Kingdom

(c) the operation is one in the course of which there is or may be some deployment of antipersonnel mines by members of the armed forces of one or more States that are not parties to the Ottawa Convention, but in the course of which such mines are not to be laid in contravention of that Convention.”[8]

The Landmines Act appears to contradict the Mine Ban Treaty by separating the actual laying of antipersonnel landmines in international military operations from other prohibited activities such as acquiring, possessing, or transferring APMs and assisting, encouraging or inducing others to lay them. This interpretation of the UK legislation suggests that even the planning of a mine laying operation in international operations is permitted. It is clear, however, that the Mine Ban Treaty forbids these other activities as absolutely as it forbids the laying of APMs.

During its Parliamentary passage and since it became law, the Landmines Act has been the subject of a number of explanatory statements by the government. These were intended to support the view that the Act does not contradict the treaty. Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the House of Commons “that the Bill gives full effect to the provisions of the Ottawa Convention.”[9] However, a Defense Minister in the same debate said that clause 5 “enables United Kingdom service men and women to engage closely in the planning and conduct of an operation with those who may, lawfully for them, use anti-personnel landmines.”[10]

At the same time, the Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said:

Clause 5 does not provide British servicemen with any loophole to take part in the deployment of landmines. British forces will be instructed in their rules of engagement for any exercise or operation that they must not use, possess, transport or handle landmines. Clause 5 provides British servicemen with a shield against unreasonable prosecution because they took part in a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation exercise in which American forces deployed landmines. Without clause 5, any British Army officer present at a NATO planning meeting who heard that American forces taking part may possess landmines would be obliged to say that he must leave the meeting, or would render himself liable to a prison sentence of 14 years.[11]

When the legislation completed its passage through Parliament, the Foreign Secretary announced that the government had “[p]laced in the Library the note accompanying the instrument of ratification, which sets out our understanding that the mere participation in the planning or execution of operations, exercises or other military activity by the United Kingdom’s Armed Forces, or individual United Kingdom nationals, conducted in combination with armed forces of States not party to the Ottawa Convention, is not, by itself, assistance, encouragement or inducement for the purposes of Article 1, paragraph 1(c) of the Convention.”[12]

UK NGOs, including the UK Working Group on Landmines, argue that it is difficult to see how “a total ban, without exception” can allow “the planning or execution of operations, exercises or other military activity by the UK’s armed forces” which involve antipersonnel landmines. It is also difficult for NGOs to accept that being engaged “closely in the planning and conduct of an operation with those who may, lawfully for them, use anti-personnel landmines” amounts to “mere participation” in such operations.

The UK Working Group on Landmines’ analysis that the Landmines Act does not faithfully and fully reflect the Mine Ban Treaty is supported by legal advice on the government’s requirement for the exemption, which was obtained from a lawyer at the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. This opinion is that:

The UK soldier could not be considered a passive actor if he knows he is transporting landmines since he is doing a positive act with the intention to do so, thereby risking a 14-year sentence under the UK legislation. As a result, the Foreign Office came to the view that a line needed to be drawn for joint military operations. The draft Bill, in their view, does this by drawing a line between the prohibition on putting landmines in the ground (still applicable to UK soldiers involved in joint operations) and all other aspects of assistance during joint military operations (such as the transport of landmines).[13]

The UKWGLM was also disturbed when the government described the existing moratorium on the use of APMs as having become “a total ban, without exception” on the day that the UK’s instrument of ratification was deposited with the UN,[14] but at the same time also announced that it retained the right to use APMs in “extreme circumstances” until entry into force of the treaty. This was explained by the Foreign Office in a letter dated 27 April 1998 to the UK campaign:

The position with regard to use of anti-personnel landmines by UK Forces is that there is a moratorium in place, which will only be lifted in extreme circumstances of self-defense, where Ministers consider that the lives of UK Forces would be jeopardized without the use of such mines. Such circumstances would be reported to Parliament. The moratorium on use will become a complete ban when the Ottawa Convention enters into force for us.[15]

Convention on Conventional Weapons

The Convention on Conventional Weapons was signed by the UK on 10 April 1981, but not ratified until 13 February 1995. Ratification of the CCW allowed the UK to participate fully in the Convention’s review conference, which started in September 1995 and closed in May 1996. The UK’s letter of acceptance of Amended Protocol II of the CCW was deposited with the UN Secretary General on 11 February 1999.[16]

The UK defined its position for the CCW review conference in February 1995. First, it supported a ban on non-detectable antipersonnel mines and the extension of the CCW to cover civil wars and other internal conflicts. Second, it wanted clear definitions and standards for self-destructing mines, stipulating when and how minefields should be marked and ensuring mapping. Third, it called for an international code on the transfer of APMs, but also argued for such a code to allow for the export and use of self-destructing mines. Fourth, it sought to secure agreement on the provision of assistance to humanitarian agencies working in mined areas.[17]

However, on 22 April 1996, before the final session of the CCW review conference, the UK government announced a substantive change in policy “in order to make greater progress in achieving international agreement.” The main move was to back a total international prohibition on APMs. Meanwhile the UK would destroy 46 percent of its APM stocks; upgrade the rest of its stocks to be self-destructing; use APMs only in “exceptional circumstances” and in accordance with the CCW; and seek alternatives to APMs and if successful cease to use them and destroy all its stocks. The UK repeated this policy as its opening statement at the Ottawa Conference in October 1996.[18]

Conference on Disarmament

The UK government’s position at the end of 1996 was that a comprehensive ban on APMs should be sought in the Conference on Disarmament (CD). In January 1997 the then government proposed an Ad Hoc Committee “to negotiate, for conclusion at the earliest possible date, a universal, effectively verifiable and legally-binding international agreement to ban totally the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines.”[19]

The UK argued in the 1997 session that any agreement on APMs had to include the major producers, exporters and users of APMs (implicitly arguing – incorrectly -- that the Ottawa process did not). The UK proposed a phased approach to banning APMs beginning with a universal ban on transfers with use, production and stockpiling to be dealt with in the future.[20]

Following the UK’s signing of the Mine Ban Treaty, the government announced that it continued to see value in pursuing complementary activity in the CD, taking “every opportunity to urge as many countries as possible to sign the Ottawa Convention and [to] press for complementary action, to promote a global ban on anti-personnel landmines, in international fora, including the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.”[21] This, the government suggested, will ensure the widest possible participation in a ban of these weapons.[22] It continues to follow this policy today.


The UK has been a major past producer and developer of APMs. Private companies produced antipersonnel mines in the UK, including the following:

- Thorn EMI Electronics produced the “Ranger” antipersonnel mine in two forms: a scatterable, plastic APM and an inert practice APM (the “Ranger Inert”);

- Royal Ordnance produced the No6 blast APM; also the L1E1 PJRAD projected area defense antipersonnel mines until 1986;

- British Aerospace/Royal Ordnance produced the L9 Bar Mine. This antitank mine was originally developed with simple single-impulse and double-impulse fuses, but is apparently “also available with both antitilt and antidisturbance fuses as part of the Marconi Full Width Attack Mine fusing program;”[23]

- Hunting Engineering produced the JP233 “Airfield Attack Weapon,” a cluster bomb that carries two hundred and fifteen HB876 APMs as well as runway cratering bomblets. Hunting Engineering also produced four different antitank mines.

In 1995 the Defense Manufacturers Handbook listed British Aerospace Defense, British Aerospace (Royal Ordnance), Hunting Engineering, and Plalite as having landmines among their products. However, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) stated that “Thorn EMI Electronics, Royal Ordnance and Hunting Engineering are the only British companies to have produced land mines since 1965.” Furthermore, MoD was “not aware of any British companies which currently manufacture components for land mines.”[24]

British firms have also cooperated with French firms on the production or development of mines: the APILAS produced by Manurhin, British Aerospace Systems and Equipment, and Giat; and ARGES (Automatic Rocket Guardian with Electronic Sensor), a rocket-launched ATM system produced in a consortium of Giat Industries, Hunting Engineering, Dynamit Nobel and Honeywell Regelsysteme.[25] The MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System), manufactured by a consortium of European companies including Hunting Engineering, also has an antitank mine, the German AT2, with a fuse that UK NGOs believe can be activated by a person.

The UK government reported in 1995 that production of conventional antipersonnel mines for the Ministry of Defense ceased in 1983, and of antitank mines in 1991.[26] But according to later government statements, the most recent MoD order for antipersonnel mines was placed in 1991.[27]

Thorn EMI provided the UK government with Ranger L10A1 antipersonnel mines, reportedly in large numbers up to 1986. Royal Ordnance’s L1E1 PJRAD projected area defense mines were purchased in 1986.[28]

Hunting Engineering produced the HB876, an APM that is contained in the JP233 airfield denial weapon, for the UK government. The government claimed in 1995 that the HB876 mine “is designed specifically to destroy military airfields and prevent repair” and refused to reclassify the weapon as an antipersonnel mine. UK NGOs argued that this weapon should be reclassified as an APM or at the very least as a dual-purpose (antipersonnel and antivehicle) landmine. Eventually, the government announced that this APM would be destroyed by 1 January 2000. Ministers accepted in June 1998 that the JP233 fell within the definition of an antipersonnel mine under the terms of the revised Protocol 2 to the CCW and so was “covered by the moratorium that we have announced.”[29]

As it will no longer procure any antipersonnel mines, MoD has canceled the Future Anti-Personnel Scatterable Mine (FAPSM) project.[30] However, in 1996 the government ordered a replacement for the JP233, the Conventional Armed Stand-Off Missile (CASOM), which is due to enter service in 2001. More information about this system is being sought.

Mine components

According to UK Working Group on Landmines research, Hunting Engineering, Ferranti Instrumentation, Royal Ordnance, Irvin Great Britain, Venture Technology, ML Aviation Company, and Thorn EMI Electronics all supplied components of the JP233.[31] The fuses for antitank Barmine systems were made by Marconi Radar and Control Systems, a division of General Electric Corporation (GEC), and by Royal Ordnance. According to GEC, the company ceased the development of mine fuses “some seven or eight years ago.”[32] Royal Ordnance stated in 1996 that it is “not currently procuring landmine components and has in fact not done so since April 1987.”


On 27 July 1994, the government announced a partial export moratorium, which applied only to conventional (“dumb”) APMs, in other words those that did not self-destruct or self-neutralize. The government stated that the UK had not in any case exported these “for at least the last 10 years.”[33]

This partial export moratorium was extended on 15 March 1995. The government described the moratorium as “indefinite” and applied it to exports of all types of APMs to countries not ratifying the CCW, alongside a “total ban” on the export of any non-detectable mines. The government subsequently told Parliament in May 1996 that no export licenses had been applied for, or granted, for antipersonnel landmines or for specially designed components of such mines since 1990.[34]

Since April 1996 there has been a moratorium on the export of all types of antipersonnel mines to all destinations.[35] (Imports of self-neutralizing or self-destructing mines were not banned until May 1997.)

The export from the UK of all landmines and their designs has been controlled by Export of Goods (Control) Orders under powers conferred to UK Ministers by the Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defense) Act 1939. The Orders have been amended and extended in relation to landmines on a number of occasions, including 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997. For example, following the signing of the Ottawa Convention by the UK, the Export of Goods (Control) (Amendment No 3) Order was made, to take effect from 15 December 1997. This removed a 1994 clause that permitted the export of antipersonnel landmines that had been imported into the UK for transit, and suggests that imports for re-export were permitted until that date.

Section 2(1) of the Landmines Act 1998 is now the primary UK legislation banning the production and transfer of APMs as defined in the Act and Mine Ban Treaty. The sanction for contravening this ban on exports is 14 years in prison or a fine or both, on conviction. Section 3 of the Act prohibits UK nationals from doing anything outside the UK that assists, encourages or induces people to transfer, produce or possess APMs.

Past exports

In 1993 the US Foreign Science and Technology Center (now known as the National Ground Intelligence Center) asserted that the UK was in the “top 10 list for sources of landmines found in the ground throughout the world” until the mid 1980s, and that it was one of the primary export countries of “advanced mine and countermine technology and equipment.” According to the UK government, there have been no exports of antipersonnel landmines from the UK since the late 1980s. Neither the Foreign Office nor the Department for Trade and Industry, which is responsible for export licenses, has yet released details of UK arms export licenses. Neither department has yet replied to NGOs’ detailed questions about export licensing.

There has been conflicting information released by the UK government as to past exports of landmines. In 1997, a UK government minister told Parliament that it is “clear from earlier research...that no mines considered to be anti-personnel mines at the time of export have been exported for over a decade.”[36] This implied that mines that are now considered to be antipersonnel mines have been exported more recently. Previous government statements to Parliament in 1996 had claimed that antipersonnel mines have not been exported from this country for many years.

Various sources have reported UK APMs being used in conflicts in Afghanistan, Mozambique and Somalia.[37] The No6 blast APM, manufactured by Royal Ordnance, has been reported in Zimbabwe as well as Mozambique.[38] It is known that Thorn EMI was active in marketing its Ranger APMs in the 1980s, with more than one million Rangers sold to overseas clients, including Nigeria in 1981.[39] Thorn EMI has also exported its Ranger antipersonnel mines to Jordan and at least two other countries. It is not known whether the mines sold to Nigeria are still in Nigerian stockpiles or whether they have been re-exported or used. This transaction with Nigeria appears to be the only APM export to which the UK government has admitted for the period between 1979 and 1997. However, the Minister giving this information did not consult the Department of Trade and Industry (which issues export licenses) before making his statement to Parliament. He stated that the information on which he based his statement came only from records available in the Ministry of Defense, which “may not be definitive.”

Past imports

In 1995, the UK government gave details of mine purchases from overseas suppliers as follows:

- C3A1 Elsie, purchased between 1965 and 1968 from Canadian Arsenals Ltd;

- M18A1 Claymore between 1965 and 1968, and in 1989 from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The government told Parliament that there are no records of the cost of these procurements.[40]

The UK has also imported the L27 off-route antitank mine manufactured by Giat Industries in France, where it is called the MIACAH F1. In May 1997, the UK classified this as an antipersonnel mine because it is activated by tripwire. (See stockpiles below.)

The UK is known to have imported 5,604 antipersonnel mines from the US, including 5,502 M18A1 Claymores in 1991, twelve M18A1s imported in 1989, and 90 M14s imported in 1973.[41] In the past, British forces (probably Special Forces) also reportedly possessed the U.S. Pursuit Deterrent Munition (PDM). Stocks of PDM were said to have been destroyed after the Gulf War. However, there is no independent evidence of this, or of the numbers involved.

In December 1995, the UK ordered a Vehicle Launched Scatterable Mine System (VLSM) from the US firm Alliant Techsystems at a cost of $179 million (£110 million).[42] This system is known in the UK as Shielder, and although described by the UK government as antitank, UK NGOs have serious concerns about its antipersonnel characteristics. The system is to be used on a British vehicle, the Stormer armored personnel carrier, which has been modified by Alvis Vehicles Ltd. of Coventry. Specific requests by NGOs for assurances from the government on the fusing and anti-handling characteristics of Shielder have not yet been answered, despite statements in Parliament by Ministers that such information has been provided.

Further details of the characteristics of these mines are given below. It is worth noting that information given above on procurement and imports was confirmed by a government statement in 1997 that gave details of those companies that have produced mines for the UK’s Ministry of Defense:

Available records indicate that the following companies/organizations have, since 1979, met orders from [the MoD] for:

(a) antipersonnel mines: Thorn EMI, Royal Ordnance, the United States Department of Defense and Alliant Techsystems of the United States

(b) antitank/armored vehicle mines: Royal Ordnance, Hunting Engineering Ltd, Alliant Techsystems, the MLRS European Production group, and GIAT Industries and SOFMA of France.[43]


Currently available information, in detail below, shows that the UK government still holds stockpiles of APMs, although a large proportion of stocks have been destroyed. Descriptions of the full range of UK mine stocks as of July 1998, plus the newly acquired Shielder, are summarized in Table 1 below.

Although the government has made various announcements on Army stockpiles and their destruction, these have fallen short of revealing the extent of stocks held by the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and UK Special Forces. A stockpile destruction program was to be published, but neither this nor the numbers involved in destruction have been made public.

Table 1: Types of Mines held by the UK and their Government classification

(as of July 1998)

- C3A1 Elsie: blast AP mine.

- Ranger: blast AP mine; used with vehicle-mounted firing system.

- Projector Area Defense (PJRAD): fragmentation AP mine.

- M18A1 Claymore: directional fragmentation AP mine; usually command detonated, but may be target activated; in command detonated mode, not classified by UK government as a mine.

- L27 Off Route Mine: blast AT mine, classified AP because it is activated by tripwire; withdrawn from service, to be replaced by ARGES in 2004.

- Mk 7: blast AT mine; two types, standard and waterproofed, to be phased out in 2000/01.

- Barmine: blast AT mine; several fuse options, including the Anti Disturbance Double Impulse (ADDI) fuse, and the Full Width Attack Mine Electronic (FWAM (E)) fuse; the latter has a seismic and magnetic sensor.

- AT2: shaped charge AT mine (scatterable); self-destructing, but contains integral anti-handling device; dispensed by rocket (MLRS), 28 mines per rocket, from a maximum range of 39 km; is fully armed within twenty seconds of landing.

- Shielder Vehicle Launched Scatterable Mine System (new addition to UK stocks). Vehicle: Alvis Stormer (adapted). Mine laying system: Volcano. Each vehicle fires 720 L35A1 mines (self-destructing, but with full width attack with magnetic influence fuses). Moving the mine, once armed, through the earth’s magnetic field will cause detonation.

The first indication of the numbers held by the UK was given in a statement to Parliament by Defense Secretary George Robertson. He stated in June 1998 that 438,727 antipersonnel landmines have been destroyed since 1 May 1997, representing 45.6 per cent of the total number of such landmines held by the UK.[44] Assuming this figure is accurate, this suggests a stockpile of about 960,000. However, information released to Mines Advisory Group at the same time by the Ministry of Defense suggests that a more accurate estimate was a total stockpile of about 1,250,000, of which 430,000 had been destroyed by July 1998, with 850,000 remaining.[45] This information is summarized below.

There is little dispute about the numbers and classification of the Ranger and Elsie APMs, both of which have had significant proportions destroyed. There is less information about the numbers and destruction program for the HB876, the APM that is contained in the JP233 airfield denial weapon. The government accepted in June 1998 that the JP233 falls within the definition of an antipersonnel land mine under the terms of the revised Protocol 2 of the CCW and so it is to be destroyed.

Two other British mines have been re-classified as APMs when used in a specified fashion: the PJRAD “directional fragmentation mines” and the US “Claymore” in UK stocks. These are now both classified as antipersonnel mines when used in automatic (victim-operated) “stand-alone” mode. But they would not have been considered antipersonnel mines before mid-1996. The PJRAD was understood to remain in service in Northern Ireland at least until mid-1998. It is also unclear what the position is regarding the stockpiles and destruction of these mines.

Table 2: APMs in UK Stockpiles (by type)

Mines classified by Government as APMs:

June 1998
1 March 19991
Elsie C3A1
L10A1 Ranger
HB876 (JP233)
est. 25-30,000

June 1998
1 March 19991
Not known
Not considered APMs by MoD
Not known
Not considered APMs by MoD
Not known
Not considered APMs by MoD
Not known
Not considered APMs by MoD
Not known
Not known
Not known
Not known
Not known
Not considered APMs by MoD

1Figures given exclude stocks retained for testing destruction and detection techniques. There is conflicting information on stocks of PDM and L27: one source suggests none are held.

Stockpile Destruction

Prior to the Mine Ban Treaty, the government announced that 44 per cent of APM stocks were to be destroyed, comprising 60 per cent of Elsie stocks and 40 per cent of Ranger APMs. In addition, all L27 ATMs were removed from service because the government accepted that its fuse makes it antipersonnel.[46]

January 2000 is the target date set by MoD for the destruction of UK stockpiles under the Mine Ban Treaty. According to the Defense Secretary:

The speed at which this [the destruction of almost all of the APLs in UK stocks] can be achieved will depend upon a number of factors, including the capacity of contractors to carry out the destruction, work which involves careful environmental safeguards. I am please to tell you that we expect that destruction of the Army’s stocks will be completed two years from now, well before the deadline of the Ottawa Convention.[47]

However, as with official information about the size of UK stockpiles, there was no mention of Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, or Special Forces stocks of landmines.

Since MoD’s announcement on stockpile destruction in January 1998, no further details emerged until 22 February 1999, when the Defense Secretary announced that “all British Army anti-personnel landmines have been destroyed, yet another demonstration of our commitment to the obligations we accepted when ratifying the Ottawa Treaty.” The commitment to the total destruction of APMs by 1 January 2000 was confirmed; the “large Army capability has now been destroyed, and the supplementary RAF JP233 capability will be destroyed by this date [1 January 2000], four years earlier than required under the terms of the Ottawa Treaty.”[48]

Most destruction of stocks has reportedly been carried out by the use of explosives on UK military ranges, by the UK military, although the Ministry of Defense has not confirmed this. The cost of destroying the stockpiles was expected to be some $8.2 million (£5 million).[49]

APMs for Training

The government announced in April 1998 that the UK will “retain about 4,000 anti-personnel landmines, less than half of one percent of current stocks, in order to be able to carry out training in demining.”[50] At present, there is little information as to APM types being held for training or their specific uses. One source reports that between 1,000 and 2,000 each of Ranger and Elsie stocks are being retained to test destruction and detection techniques, as permitted by Article 3 of the Treaty. It is clear that UK forces possess “inert” APMs, which are designed for training purposes, and that the UK does not use live mines for training. In the light of this, and the training possibilities for UK forces posted overseas in carrying out humanitarian mine clearance, the UKWGLM believes retention of stocks for training appears unnecessary.


In written answers to questions put to Tony Lloyd, FCO Minister of State, at a meeting in March 1998, the government stated that “NATO itself does not have stocks of APL. There are no US stocks in Britain. The question of transit is being looked at carefully by legal advisers.” Also, according to the UK government, the UK holds no stocks of antipersonnel mines outside UK territories.[51] However, official US sources indicate that the US has thousands of APMs stored on Diego Garcia, a UK dependent territory in the Indian Ocean. (See U.S. country report).


At present, there are no reports of use of APMs in the UK, except for testing purposes as allowed by the Treaty. However, the UK Working Group on Landmines has expressed concerns about the compatability of potential use of certain mines with the Mine Ban Treaty, including the Shielder system mines and AT 2 antitank mines. The magnetic influence fuse on the mine used by Shielder is reportedly highly sensitive.[52] Table 2 above notes the range of mines retained by the UK government, not classified as antipersonnel but which are known to have antipersonnel effects.

Mine Action Funding

According to the Department for International Development (DFID), between 1991-1998 the UK had spent about $57 million (£35 million) on humanitarian demining.[53] For most of this period, total funding stood at less than $8.2 million (£5 million) a year. At the Ottawa Conference in December 1997, the UK confirmed that the annual UK commitment to demining activities would be doubled over the three years to the year 2001 to $16.3 million (£10 million). By February 1999, the government had spent $10.1 million (£6.2 million) on humanitarian mine action in the 1998/99 financial year.[54]

Recent UK government support has been given directly to mine clearance projects in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Laos, Northern Iraq and Mozambique. Directly supported projects all involve manual clearance methods though some also use mechanical devices and dogs.[55] The aim of this support is “to reduce the social and economic impact of landmines in developing countries.”[56] The grants are to be used to support the detection and clearance of antipersonnel landmines and are to help developing countries implement their obligations under the Mine Ban Treaty, including stockpile destruction. In 1999, the UK made a contribution of US$300,000 in support of the ICBL’s Landmine Monitor initiative.

Table 3 gives details of government figures for UK expenditure on mine clearance projects, including integrated mine awareness activities, by country for the period April 1992 to November 1998. It shows that twelve countries have received UK funding since 1992, with a maximum of eight countries receiving funding in any one year.[57]

Table 3: UK Government expenditure on mine clearance projects, including integrated mine awareness activities by country (US$)

1992-93: $2,883,000

Afghanistan, Cambodia, Somalia

1993-1994: $5,138,000

Afghanistan, Cambodia, Northern Iraq, Mozambique

1994-95: $8,695,000

Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Northern Iraq, Mozambique, Rwanda, Yemen

1995-1996: $7,919,000

Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Northern Iraq, Laos, Mozambique, FR Yugoslavia

1996-1997: $6,966,000

Afghanistan, Cambodia, Egypt, Northern Iraq, Laos, Mozambique, Yemen, FR Yugoslavia

1997-1998: $7,060,000

1998-1999 (up to 30 November 1998): 7,059,000

Afghanistan, Cambodia, Georgia, Northern Iraq, Laos, Mozambique, FR Yugoslavia

All DFID-funded activities except for Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) funded activities and value of surplus equipment re-deployed by DFID and MoD to mine clearance projects.

Further details of mine action expenditure have been made available by the UK government, showing how much has been spent in the field on different activities funded principally through the Department for International Development. Table 5 shows that, of the $49.2 million (£30.2 million) of expenditure for which this information was made available, 94 percent went to humanitarian mine clearance projects. Of this, some went to integrated mine awareness activities or the clearance of other unexploded ordnance.

Three and a half percent of these funds went to research and development. However, as noted below, the Ministry of Defense spends far greater sums on military demining technology. None of the resources made available by DFID went to commercial mine clearance.

In-kind contributions

In 1998, surplus equipment valued at $611,250 (£375,000) was donated by the government for mine clearance, including a gift to the Halo Trust of ten surplus Volvo medium wheel tractors, valued at $203,750 (£125,000). Ministers told Parliament that “they will increase considerably the rate of mine clearance and the safety of operators once the Halo Trust has suitably armored them.”[58] Mine detection equipment with a value of $815,000 (£500,000) was provided from the overseas aid budget in 1996. A further $163,000 (£100,000) for such equipment was committed in financial year 1997-98.[59]

MoD-funded activity since 1992 has also taken place in Bosnia, as part of the wider military operation there. These activities have included training and supervision of mine clearance programs and the provision of mine awareness training to some 15,000 school children. However, it should be noted that serving British Army personnel are generally not permitted to work in minefields in peacetime. In recent years, UK military personnel have been attached to the Mine Action Center in Kosovo and the UN Mine Action Service in New York. The UK government announced in October 1997 that additional service manpower would be assigned to assist with demining programs in Bosnia, Africa and other areas of the world affected by landmines.[60]

The Ministry of Defense has apparently also, from the early 1980s, provided the authorities in Egypt with copies of surviving maps of known minefields and supporting information on the types of mines laid and the techniques used by the Commonwealth forces during the war. It is unknown how many minefields had surviving maps. There have been three visits to Egypt by Royal Ordnance Disposal officers (in 1981,1984 and 1994). The RAF also conducted reconnaissance flights over the area in 1984. The Ministry of Defense is currently preparing a new version of the map and data package that “makes use of advances in technology where possible.”[61] It is believed that Libya has also requested information about minefields or financial reparations.

An official UK delegate at an Ottawa seminar of March 1998 reportedly claimed that, according to UK records, 250,000 mines were laid by British troops during World War II. A German delegate was said to confirm a similar figure. This contrasts sharply with repeated public statements by the Egyptian government that many millions of mines are in the ground in Egypt. (The Egyptian government contends that it cannot sign the Mine Ban Treaty because there are no provisions for requiring those who laid mines to remove them.)

Funding through the EC

The UK has indirectly funded mine clearance through the European Community. Some $5.5 million (£3.37 million) was contributed to EC activities between 1992 and 1996, and nearly $12.2 million (£7.5 million) for the calendar year 1996.[62]

In addition, $15.7 million (£9.6 million) for humanitarian mine clearance was contributed through various UN funds and programs between 1992 and November 1998. These included the UN Voluntary Trust Fund ($978,000/£600,000); the Sarajevo UN Mine Action Center ($359,000/£220,000); the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance for Afghanistan; and the UN Development Program. The Government of Egypt received $957,312 directly (£587,308).

More than $28.7 million (£17.6 million) has been allocated in the same period to NGO agencies including MAG and HALO.

Spending on mine action programs in the UK

The Department for International Development (DFID) funds research and development of new technologies to improve the safety, efficiency and speed of humanitarian mine clearance. According to the DFID this funding goes toward “initiatives to trial new technology and adapt existing technology to the specific needs of humanitarian mine clearance.”[63] Although it is unclear what specific development work is being done, DFID partners in this program include the UK Defense Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA), UK companies and specialist NGOs. One example of this work given by DFID is support for building and using armored tractors in Cambodia for removing vegetation cover, which is said to speed up clearance rates by fifty per cent in some places. As Table 4 below shows, this source of support for research and development has been small in scale until recent years.

The Ministry of Defense is also responsible for spending on mine action programs in the UK. First, it monitors and maintains the minefields in the Falkland Islands/Malvinas, including the presence of an Explosives Ordnance Disposal Response Team. The official view is that it has not been possible to cost this work because it is only one part of the duties of those involved. Second, MoD has funded applied research into military clearance technology (not humanitarian mine clearance technology); Ministers state that this funding has increased significantly over the past three years and is expected to remain high for the next five years at least. The Department currently spends approximately $4.9 million (£3 million) per annum on research into counter-mine technologies, although MoD’s remit is to fund research only into military operation demining, rather than humanitarian mine clearance. MoD is researching sensors and countermine technologies, including “Ground Penetrating Radar,” for military demining.[64]

Table 4: UK Government grants for research and development (DFID only)[65]

Year US$ (£)

1992-1993 -

1993-1994 -

1994-1995 171,033 (104,928)

1995-1996 -

1996-1997 -

1997-1998 613,977 (376,673)

1998-1999 893,799 (548,343)

at 30 Nov. 1999 -

Total 1,678,809 (1,029,944)

Details of new MoD assistance to demining were announced by the Secretary of State for Defense in October 1997. As part of a five-point plan, he announced that a new military post would be created in MoD to lead inter-departmental coordination on landmines and that an inter-departmental (MoD/FCO/DFID) working group on the issue would be formed. A focal point of post-conflict mine clearance research has been established by MoD at the Defense, Evaluation and Research Agency’s (DERA) facilities at Chertsey in Surrey to complement the research being conducted in support of operational mine clearance. The DERA is to examine the suitability of commercial “off-the-shelf” equipment for demining and will publicize its findings.

The Defense Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) conducts research into counter-mine warfare on behalf of the British Government, and makes publicly available any results relevant to humanitarian de-mining. The Ministry of Defense and the Department for International Development are also actively involved in the international exchange of information and co-operation on mine clearance technologies and will continue to contribute to international work on humanitarian mine clearance.[66]

Finally, a new Mine Information and Technology Center at the Royal Engineers Battlefield Engineering Wing in Minley, Surrey, was also established in November 1997; this provides information on demining operations and offers mines awareness training to both military and civilian personnel in the UK. However, despite its broad mandate, MITC has only a small permanent staff consisting of one captain, one warrant officer and one senior NCO, although it will be able to draw on expertise from elsewhere in the Army and MoD. It is not yet clear what program of action MITC is pursuing. The additional annual cost to the defense budget is $203,750 (£125,000).[67]

Table 5: UK Government grants by activity (US$)

Humanitarian mine clearance1
Military initiative mine clearance2
Mine Awareness
Researcher & development
1998-1999 at
30 Nov 1998

Notes:1Includes APMs and other UXO (de facto mines) clearance, and integrated mine awareness activities except where italicized

2MOD funded: $204,000 (£125,000) (30.11.98) denotes value of surplus equipment re-deployed

3FCO funded

Survivor assistance

The UK government contributes to international assistance to landmine survivors through organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Health Organization. In addition, in November 1997, the European Community committed some $9.6 million (£5.9 million) to the ICRC’s 1997 and 1998 Special Appeals for Assistance to Mine Victims; the UK share of this assistance was about $1.4 million (£860,000) – or less than ten percent of the total.[68]

Funds have been raised by charitable organizations in the UK for projects assisting mine survivors overseas, although details of direct expenditure have, in many cases, proven difficult to separate from wider programs that may also assist mine survivors. Incomplete data provided by a small number of UK agencies suggest that a minimum of $2.9 million (£1,770,000) in charitable funds was spent on survivor assistance in 1997, and a further $972,000 (£596,000) in 1998. Further work to assess the extent and nature of charitable assistance for projects for survivors by UK agencies, other than government-funded projects, is necessary.

In January 1999, The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, set up to commemorate the Princess of Wales and to support causes with which she was associated, donated $1.7 million (£1,055,225) to thirteen charitable organizations working with landmine survivors. These grants are to address “the problems of people and communities who have been physically, mentally and economically affected by landmines.” The projects involved are based in South Sudan, Bosnia Herzogovina, Angola, Mozambique, El Salvador, Laos, Sri Lanka, Palestinian Territories, Cambodia and Afghanistan, and are summarized in Table 6 below.[69]

Table 6: Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund supported projects (1999)

UK agency

Action on Disability and Development: Working with Sudanese disabled persons organizations, including landmine survivors: to support meeting fundamental needs and human rights.

Leonard Cheshire International/Landmine Survivors Network: Landmine survivor support services, Bosnia Herzegovina: to provide training for empowerment of landmine survivors who have suffered traumatic injury.

Concern Worldwide: Vocational Training Center, Kuito, Angola teaching people injured by mines practical skills including carpentry and shoemaking.

The Jaipur Limb Campaign: Working with the Mozambique Red Cross to set up a rehabilitation center in Manjacaze, Mozambique: to provide social and economic rehabilitation and local production of mobility appliances.

Motivation: Wheelchairs for El Salvador: to train a team of mostly disabled trainees in wheel chair production, distribution and education using locally available materials.

Disability Awareness in Action/Pan African Federation of Disabled People: Leadership training seminar on landmines and human rights for disabled people’s organizations in Africa.

POWER: Prosthetics and orthotics fitting, and training local people to fit them, with Ministry of Public Health and Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics. Based in Laos.

Voluntary Services Overseas: Provision of a physiotherapist in Sri Lanka: to provide therapy, walk-training and to train local physiotherapists and technicians.

War on Want: Mine action in Palestinian Territories: to provide mine awareness, support and advocacy for people with disabilities, including support for legal rights of disabled people.

World Vision: Vocational rehabilitation in Battambang Province, Cambodia: to provide business management support and loans and business workshops, including agricultural training for disabled people.

Save the Children Fund: Working with ADEMO in Mozambique, researching the needs of people with disabilities: to provide advocacy material, raise awareness and improve opportunities for disabled people.

Tim’s Fund/Christian Aid: With the Afghanistan-Afghan Awareness Agency: mine awareness and marking minefields.

Landmine Problem

Most of the UK and territories currently under its administrative authority are not significantly mine-affected or UXO-affected. There is a particular problem in the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, where APMs, including remotely delivered scatterable mines, were used by British and Argentine forces in the war of 1982. The Ministry of Defense reported that “landmines were used in the Falklands by our forces during the 1982 conflict, and in its aftermath. One British anti-personnel landmine remains unaccounted for although every effort has been made to clear our devices.”[70] However, no real in-depth assessment has been made of the extent of the problem remaining, and available information on figures and locations remain based on estimates from 1986.

The official UK assessment is that there is “no reliable figure for the number of Argentine mines in the Falklands. Our best current estimate is that some 18,000 Argentine mines and similar devices of various types were laid, including some 14,000 anti-personnel landmines. About 1,400 Argentine mines were cleared following the conflict, before work was suspended after a number of serious injuries to clearance personnel.”

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.[71]

Other estimates of the number of APMs remaining range from 14,000 to 40,000; they have resulted in twenty square kilometers of the islands being fenced off as being potentially dangerous.[72] The U.S. Government Humanitarian Demining Program lists the Falklands/Malvinas as a mine-affected territory with the quantity of mines estimated at 25,000 to 30,000.

Argentina offered funding for the clearance of an estimated 30,000 mines in January 1994. These were said to include the Israeli No 4, the Italian SB-33, the FMK-1 APM, and the FMK-3 ATM. This latter mine uses an APM as a fuse; in other words, it can be detonated by a footstep.[73]

Another expert source, a former British army officer involved in the last minefield clearance in the Falklands/Malvinas in 1986, gave a more comprehensive listing of the types of mines found there. These are given in Table 7 below. The minefields are also reportedly very clearly fenced off, but have denied access to peat cutting areas, for example the main peat cutting area on Stanley Common. Peat is used as the main fuel for cooking and heating.

Table 7: Mines remaining in the Falklands/Malvinas

Antipersonnel mines: No.4 (Israel); SB-33 (Italy); FMK-1 (Argentina); P4B (Spain).

Antitank mines: FMK-3 (Argentina); No. 6 (Israel); M1A1 (U.S.); SB-81 (Italy); C-3-B (Spain).

Submunition: BL-755 AT and AP bomblet (UK).


[1]EU Joint Action 96/588/CFSP, 1 October 1996.

[2]Hansard, 21 May 1997, col. 72; FCO Press Release, 21 May 1997.

[3]Hansard, 21 May 1997, col. 72.

[4]UK Working Group on Landmines, No Exceptions, No Loopholes, No Reservations, (London: UK Working Group on Landmines, 1997).


[6]Hansard, 12 November 1997, col. 898.

[7]House of Commons Public Information Office, Treaties and the House of Commons (London: House of Commons, 1995).


[9]Hansard, 10 July 1998, col. 1347.

[10]Ibid, col. 1391.

[11]Ibid, col. 1348.

[12]Hansard, 31 July 1998, col. 692.

[13]Letter dated 16 July 1998 from the legal officer to Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC to the Rt. Hon. Baroness Williams of Crosby.

[14]Hansard, 31 July 1998, col. 728.

[15]Letter dated 27 April 1998 from the Security Policy Department of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to the UK Working Group on Landmines.

[16]Hansard, 11 February 1999, col. 360.

[17]FCO Minister of State David Davis reported in Hansard, 15 March 1995, col. 863.

[18]Hansard, 22 April 1996, col. 28.

[19]CD/1443, 30 January 1997.

[20]Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Towards a Global Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines (Canada: DFAIT, 11 March 1997).

[21]Hansard, 4 December 1997, col. 300.

[22]Hansard, 12 January 1998, col. 130.

[23]Forecast International/DMS Market Intelligence Report, Ordnance and Munitions Forecast (1992).

[24]Hansard, 2 May 1995, col. 204.

[25]Belkacem Elomari and Bruno Barillot, Le complexe francais de production des mines et systemes associes (Lyon: Observatoire des Transferts d’Armaments, 1997).

[26]Hansard, 2 May 1995, col. 204.

[27]Hansard, 12 February 1997, col. 1180.

[28]Jane’s Information Group, Military Vehicles and Logistics, 1986.

[29]Hansard, 16 June 1998, col. 6.

[30]Paul Bowers and Tom Dodd, Antipersonnel mines and the policies of two British Governments (RUSI Journal, February 1998).

[31]UK Working Group on Landmines, Briefing paper on Britain’s HB876 landmine (London, March 1996).

[32]UK Working Group on Landmines/Mines Advisory Group, British Landmines, 1996.


[34]Hansard, 16 May 1996, col. 540.

[35]Hansard, 22 April 1996, col. 28.

[36]Hansard, 12 February 1997, col. 180.

[37]The Arms Project of Human Rights Watch and Physicians for Human Rights, Landmines: A Deadly Legacy (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1993) pp104, 206, 225.

[38]The Arms Project of Human Rights Watch, Still Killing: Landmines in Southern Africa (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1997) p. 199.

[39]Hansard, 12 February 1997, col. 180.

[40]Hansard, 2 May 1995, col. 202.

[41]US Army documents obtained by Human Rights Watch.

[42]Hansard, 24 February 1997, col. 120.

[43]Hansard, 12 February 1997, col. 180.

[44]Hansard, 18 June 1998, col. 265.

[45]Mines Advisory Group, UK Landmines Stockpiles, 11 June 1998.

[46]Hansard, 3 May 1996.

[47]Ministry of Defense press release, 27 January 1998.

[48]Ministry of Defense press release, 22 February 1999.

[49]Hansard, 10 July 1998, col. 1369.

[50]Foreign and Commonwealth Office, letter to UK Working Group on Landmines dated 27 April 1998.

[51]Hansard, 20 March 1998, col. 746.

[52]Sunday Telegraph, 5 April 1998.

[53]Department for International Development, Landmines and Poverty: Breaking the link, (London: DFID, 1998).

[54]Hansard, 23 February 1999, col. 252.

[55]Hansard, 2 February 1998, col. 470.

[56]Department for International Development, Landmines and Poverty: Breaking the link, (London: DFID, 1998).

[57]Hansard, 2 February 1998, col. 470.

[58]Hansard, 9 March 1998, col. 11.

[59]Hansard, 15 December 1997, col. 25.

[60]Paul Bowers and Tom Dodd, Antipersonnel mines and the policies of two British Governments, (RUSI Journal, February 1998) p. 15.

[61]Hansard, 17 December 1998, cols. 655-656.

[62]Paul Bowers and Tom Dodd, Antipersonnel mines and the policies of two British Governments, (RUSI Journal, February 1998) p. 17.

[63]Department for International Development, Landmines and Poverty: Breaking the link, (London: DFID, 1998).

[64]Hansard, 28 April 1998, col. 64.

[65]Hansard, 2 December 1998, cols. 176-179.

[66]Hansard, 20 October 1998, col. 1067.

[67]Paul Bowers and Tom Dodd, Antipersonnel mines and the policies of two British Governments, (RUSI Journal, February 1998).

[68]Hansard, 3 March 1998.

[69]Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund Press Release, 12 January 1999.

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

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

[72]The Independent, 30 March 1998.

[73]U.S. Department of Defense, “Mine Facts” CD Rom.