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Country Reports
URUGUAY, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

Uruguay’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carlos Perez del Castillo, signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and said “the full elimination of weapons like these is a challenge for humanity, a serious responsibility that all countries have to face through the coordinated effort of the entire international community.”[1] Uruguay has not yet ratified. Ratification legislation was sent to parliament on 4 September 1998 and is currently before the Senate.

Uruguay first announced its support for an immediate, total ban on antipersonnel landmines during a December 1995 conference of International Red Cross and Red Crescent societies. Uruguay participated in all of the ban treaty preparatory meetings, endorsed the pro-treaty Brussels Declaration, and took part in the Oslo negotiations. Uruguay also voted in favor of the pro-ban UN General Assembly resolutions in 1996, 1997 and 1998, as well as the pro-ban resolutions of the Organization of American States (OAS). Uruguay’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Jorge Perez Otermin, in a recent speech to the General Assembly reiterated support for the 24 July 1998 MERCOSUR Declaration in which member governments agreed to establish a region free of antipersonnel mines.”[2]

Uruguay is a party to the 1980 Convention of Conventional Weapons (CCW). On 18 August 1998, Uruguay ratified the CCW’s amended Protocol II.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, Use

According to the Army, Uruguay has never produced or exported antipersonnel mines.[3] The Army states that all antipersonnel landmines were collected from Army units during the latter half of 1998 and are now stored in the Service of Material and Weapons depot. The stockpile includes Belgian NR-409 and M-35 antipersonnel landmines. The NR-409 will be destroyed in 1999 and the operating mechanism of the M-35 antipersonnel mine will be removed and destroyed. The mines will also be used to destroy a stockpile of other obsolete or defective munitions. Destruction will be conducted by the Army without any outside assistance.[4]

A letter dated 19 November 1997 from the former Defense Minister Raul Iturria in response to a question from National Deputy Gabriel Barandiaran revealed that, as of November 1997, the Armed Forces had a total of 2,338 antipersonnel mines (1,604 M-35 mines and 734 NR-409 mines) as well as 1,377 antitank mines.[5]

Landmines required for training will be inert and will be controlled by the Service of Material and Weapons and, if necessary, will be used by the units in charge of training. Uruguay does not have Claymore mines nor does it have antitank mines fitted with anti-handling devices.[6] It does not appear that Uruguay has used antipersonnel mines in combat operations or for border defense.

Mine Clearance

Uruguay is not mine-affected. Since 1992, the Army has contributed U.S.$24,000 U.S. to international humanitarian mine action including training, instruction and equipment for mine clearance.[7]

Armed Forces personnel have participated in United Nations peacekeeping and mine action programs in Angola, Cambodia and Mozambique, as well as with the Organization of American States program in Nicaragua.[8] In 1996 and 1997, a group of officers were in Angola working in mine clearance and five of them, all engineers, were trainers in the local school of demining. Uruguayan military personnel continue to participate in the OAS mine action program in Central America..

Uruguay’s UN Ambassador Jorge Perez Otermin told a General Assembly session concerning mine action, that “mine clearance should be integrated into the process to reconstruct societies after conflicts.”[9]

Landmine Casualties

There are only a few landmine casualties in Uruguay, from military or peacekeeping operations. Captain Fernando Poladura, a retired military officer, lost his right leg while participating in mine clearance in Angola in June 1996.[10]


[1] Carlos Perez del Castillo, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Statement to Signing Ceremonies, Ottawa, Canada, 3 December 1997.

[2] Statement of the Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the United Nations, Ambassador Dr. Jorge Perez Otermin, New York, 17 November 1998.

[3] National Army Response to Landmine Monitor questionnaire, February 1999.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Landmine Monitor has a copy of the letter.

[6] National Army Response to Landmine Monitor questionnaire, February 1999.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Telephone Interview with Public Relations Office of the Army, 26 February 1999.

[9] Statement of the Permanent Representative of Uruguay to the United Nations, Ambassador Dr. Jorge Perez Otermin, New York, 17 November 1998.

[10] Interview with Captain (ret.) Fernando Poladura, Montevideo, 12 November 1998.