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Table of Contents
Country Reports
ARGENTINA, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports

ARGENTINA

Key developments since March 1999: Argentina ratified the Mine Ban Treaty on 21 July 1999 and it entered into force on 1 March 2000. A Working Group composed of representatives of the Ministry of Defense and the armed forces has been created to oversee implementation.

Mine Ban Policy

Argentina signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 4 December 1997. Argentina’s Congress approved the treaty on 23 June 1999 under Law 25.112, promulgated it on 15 July 1999 and published it in the Official Bulletin (number 29.191) on 21 July 1999. Argentina deposited its instrument of ratification at the United Nations on 14 September 1999. The Mine Ban Treaty entered into force for Argentina on 1 March 2000.

Then-President Carlos Saúl Menem submitted an interpretative statement on the Malvinas/Falklands to Congress at the same time as the ratification instrument, which was accepted without amendment. The statement says, “Argentina manifests that its territory in the Malvinas Islands is mine-affected, a fact which was communicated to the UN General Assembly in resolutions 48/7, 49/215, 50/82, and 51/149.... Argentina is impeded access to AP mines in the Malvinas in order to comply with the Mine Ban Treaty because of the illegal occupation by the United Kingdom.”[1]

Argentina has not enacted domestic implementation legislation regarding the treaty. Law 25.112 does not contain provisions on violations and punishments.

Argentina’s Article 7 transparency report is due on 27 August 2000 and according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is being prepared.[2] On 1 March 2000, Nobel Peace Laureate Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, President of El Servicio Paz y Justicia, SERPAJ (Peace and Justice Services) sent a letter to Argentina’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Adalberto Rodríguez Giavarini asking “whether the Argentinian government is preparing the report,” and requesting a copy of it.[3]

A Working Group on the treaty has been created (by resolution MD 169/00), made up of representatives of the Policy Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, the Army, the Navy and the Institute of Scientific and Technical Research of the Armed Forces (CITEFA). The Working Group is responsible for implementing treaty requirements, including Argentina’s Article 7 report, and is also mandated “to strengthen Argentina’s contribution to humanitarian demining.”[4]

Argentina voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 54/54B supporting the Mine Ban Treaty in December 1999, and has supported relevant UNGA resolutions in previous years. Argentine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Minister Ana María Ramírez, noted at the UN General Assembly 54th session that “our country considers this legal instrument of fundamental value towards strengthening the principles of international humanitarian law.”[5]

Argentina participated in the First Meeting of State Parties held in Maputo in May 1999. Minister Pedro Villagra Delgado, Director of International Safety, Nuclear and Space Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a statement in support of the treaty, and noted, “We mustn’t drop our guard in the belief that the work is done. The international community must now redouble its efforts to achieve an effective and universal application of [the Mine Ban Treaty] principles and goals.”[6]

Argentina has participated in all of the intersessional meetings of the treaty in Geneva.

Argentina is a state party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and ratified Amended Protocol II on landmines on 21 October 1998. It participated in the December 1999 First Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II and made a statement to the plenary. Argentina submitted its Article 13 annual transparency report on 12 December 1999. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, an interpretative statement was made by the Argentinian delegation dealing with the Malvinas issue.[7] Argentina is a member of the Conference on Disarmament and has supported the unsuccessful attempts to address an antipersonnel mine transfer ban in that forum.

Production, Transfer, Use

Argentina is a former producer and exporter of antipersonnel mines. In the past, it manufactured three types of antipersonnel mines: the FMK-1 plastic blast mine, the MAPG pressure or trip-wire initiated mine, and the MAPPG bounding mine.[8] Production took place at the Dirección General de Fabricaciones Militares of the Ministry of Defense. Officials have declined to provide information on decommissioning or conversion of production facilities.[9]

Argentina adopted a five-year moratorium on the export, sale or transfer of antipersonnel mines on 27 March 1995. The moratorium has now been superceded by Argentina’s Mine Ban Treaty obligations.[10] Based on mines found in the Falklands/Malvinas, it appears that Argentina imported antipersonnel mines from Israel (Number 4), Italy (SB-33) and Spain (P4B).[11]

It is not known if Argentina has used antipersonnel mines aside from the Falklands/Malvinas. During the confrontation between Argentina and Chile in 1978, which nearly led to war, Chile laid a large number of mines along its borders with Argentina, but it is not certain whether Argentina also used mines. Argentinian officials have repeatedly stated that Chile is solely responsible for the mined border areas. But, in July 1999 Congressmen Alfredo Bravo and Jorge Rivas made an official request for information on the number and location of antipersonnel landmines possibly planted by the Argentine Army along its border during the 1978 crisis. They have not received a response.[12]

Stockpiling

The Ministry of Defense did not provide information on the size and composition of Argentina’s stockpiles or stockpile destruction plans to Landmine Monitor, stating that it is collecting this information for Argentina’s Article 7 report.[13] An official at the Directorate of Military Affairs of the Ministry of Defense stated that the government is not obligated to provide information to NGOs prior to the release of its Article 7 report.[14] Information on stockpiles is not included in Argentina’s Article 13 Annual Report to CCW Amended Protocol II.

Landmine Problem

The Argentinian Foreign Ministry has said that the only part of its territory that is mine-affected is the Malvinas Islands.[15] The government maintains that mined areas along its sizeable border with Chile are only on the Chilean side. Nevertheless officials at the National Congress note that these mined areas might threaten the safety of Argentine peasants and indigenous peoples who cross back and forth on unmarked mine-affected border areas.[16]

According to a newspaper report, up to 14 border areas, mostly mountain passes between the two countries, are mine-affected, and not all of these passes are marked. The report indicates that there are minefields near the Aguas Calientes pass, close to Catamarca province, and in the southern border region, north of the Chilean city of Punta Arenas.[17]

Another newspaper report states that in the province of Jujuy there are mined areas southeast of the Licancabur volcano, close to the Jama pass; also, in Salta province, there are eight mine-affected areas around the Llullailaco volcano, in the Huaytiquina pass and around the Socompa pass. Chilean authorities only acknowledge four of these areas are mined.[18]

In August 1999 journalists covering a story of the recovery of three Incan infant mummies from the summit of Llullailaco volcano were warned by local peasants from the village of Tolar Grande to stay away from the salt fields of Mina La Julia and Mina La Casualidad, in Argentinian territory, because they were “full of landmines.”[19] Argentine authorities opened a file on the case, but still claim that the only mined-affected territory is the Malvinas Islands.

Mine Clearance

In April 1999, the Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs of Argentina and Chile met in Zapallar, Chile, to discuss their common landmine problem. The Ministers stressed their intent to obtain needed resources in order to initiate mine clearance, and discussed the costs involved as well as the possibility of contracting private companies for the task.[20]

The Argentine Ambassador to the Organization of America States stated that the presence of antipersonnel mines in the Andean highlands between the two countries is Chile’s responsibility, but stressed that Argentina would cooperate in clearance.[21]

On 28 June 1999 Governor Juan Carlos Romero of Salta, noting that he had been updated on bilateral discussions regarding mine clearance by the OAS ambassador, said he would consider filing a claim at the international level if an agreement on mine clearance along the border was not achieved by the two countries.[22] In his response to Governor Romero, Chile’s Ambassador to Argentina, Florencio Guzmán Correa is quoted as saying, “The Chilean government has expressed its political will to initiate mine clearance in areas close to the Argentine border.... The Chilean government will do so as soon as it has the financial resources needed to do the task.”[23]

The Argentinian and Chilean governments held talks on mine clearance during then President Menem’s visit to Santiago in August 1999. The Argentine military offered the assistance of the CAECOPAZ, the Center for Joint Training for Peace Operations of Campo de Mayo, but it was rejected by their Chilean colleagues.[24] Nonetheless, plans are being developed for the mine clearance activities in the south, in particular out in Cabo del Hornos Island in the Wollaston Archipelago.

At the 34th Conference of American Armies, held in November 1999 in the Bolivian capital La Paz, General Ricardo Izurieta, the Commander in Chief of the Chilean Army, announced that Chile would clear its minefields along the borders with Argentina, Perú, Bolivia, and Argentina.[25] General Izurieta said, “In the briefest timeframe we’ll clear minefields along the borders with Bolivia, Perú and Argentina – within the year – as a demonstration of our concrete and frank intention to strengthen ties with all our neighbours and in particular with the Bolivian Army.”[26]

Mine Action

Argentina has not provided financial assistance, but has actively participated in international mine action programs, notably in Central American, Angola,[27] and Kuwait.[28] Armed Forces personnel have been involved in mine clearance operations in Central America since 1993. According to Argentina’s Article 13 report to Amended Protocol II of the CCW, in 1999 Argentine personnel working in the OAS program, through the Interamerican Defense Board, participated in the destruction of 5,000 mines in Nicaragua.[29] In 1999 Argentina participated once more in demining activities in Central America (Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica) under the OAS.[30] Argentina’s participation in the regional program ended on 24 January 2000, when the last four Argentine military mine clearance instructors returned to Argentina because of budgetary constraints.[31] The government is said to be evaluating the renewal of its assistance to mine clearance in Central America.[32]

Argentina states that it has offered to contribute to demining efforts along the Peru-Ecuador border under the MOMEP mission.[33] The Ministry of Defense has offered the services of a military expert, three instructors, and mobile training equipment for mine clearance operations in Kosovo.[34]

The Argentine Army’s Centre for Training in Humanitarian Demining has provided instruction to both national and foreign army personnel.[35] Moreover, the Argentine Training Centre for Peace Operationos (CAECOPAZ) provides semi-annual courses on demining and humanitarian assistance. CAECOPAZ works exclusively in peacekeeping operations.[36]

According to the Ministry of Defense, the Institute of Scientific and Technical Research of the Armed Forces (CITEFA) has the capacity for research and development of mine-detection technology using thermal imaging.[37]

<ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA | BAHAMAS>

[1] Landmine Monitor has a copy of the interpretative statement. See also, Response by Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Landmine Monitor questionnaire, 30 March 2000.
[2] Interviews with Secretary Santiago Villalba, Director of International Safety, Nuclear and Space Affairs Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in February and May 2000.
[3] Landmine Monitor has a copy of the letter by Adolfo Pérez Esquivel.
[4] Response by the Ministry of Defense to Landmine Monitor questionnaire, 8 May 2000.
[5] Statement by Argentine Permanent Representative to the UN Minister Ana María Ramírez to the UN General Assembly 54th session, New York, 18 November 1999.
[6] Statement by Minister Pedro Villagra Delgado to the First Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, Maputo, 3 May 1999.
[7] Response by Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Landmine Monitor questionnaire, 30 March 2000.
[8] U.S. Department of Defense, “Mine Facts” CD Rom.
[9] Response by the Ministry of Defense to Landmine Monitor questionnaire, 8 May 2000.
[10] Landmine Monitor Report 1999 referred to a scandal surrounding alleged sale of AP mines to Croatia in early 1995 despite the UN arms embargo. In early 1999, the former Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs and the former Army Commander-in-Chief were formally charged in the case. “New evidence of weapons sale,” El Clarín, 3 January 1999.
[11] See Landmine Monitor 2000 country report on United Kingdom.
[12] Interview with Osvaldo Gazzola, Advisor, Office of Congressmen Alfredo Bravo and Jorge Rivas, 14 February 2000.
[13] Response by the Ministry of Defense to Landmine Monitor questionnaire, 8 May 2000.
[14] Interview with Alejandra Martín, Advisor, Directorate of Military Affairs of the Ministry of Defense, 28 February 2000.
[15] Landmine Monitor correspondence with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 27 January 1999.
[16] Interview with Osvaldo Gazzola, Advisor, Office of Congressmen Alfredo Bravo and Jorge Rivas, 14 February 2000.
[17] Juan Castro Olivera, “Chile keeps 14 mine fields along frontier areas,” La Nacion, 2 July 1999.
[18] Antonio Oieni, “One million antipersonnel mines still buried in the highlands,” El Tribuno (Salta newspaper), 16 August 1999.
[19] Ibid.
[20] “Integration measures agreed,” Clarín (Buenos Aires newspaper), 19 May 1999.
[21] Antonio Oieni, “Chile is responsible for clearance of antipersonnel mines in the Andes,” El Tribuno.
[22] Statement made by Governor Juan Carlos Romero to Reuters on 28June 1999 and published in “The Province analyzes a Judiciary Claim,” El Tribuno, 29 Tuesday 1999.
[23] “Chile ratified its decision of demining the the Cordillera,” El Tribuno, 13 October 1999.
[24] “Chilean military put a halt to demining program,” Clarín, 17 August 1999.
[25] José Higuera, “Desminado fronterizo: La atrevida promesa de Izurieta,” El Metropolitano (Santiago), 20 November 1999.
[26] “Izurieta anunció retiro de minas antipersonales en zones fronterizas,” La Segunda (Santiago), 18 November 1999. “Chile announces the demining of its borders,” Agence France Presse (La Paz), 18 November 1999.
[27] A group of twelve Argentine military personnel, volunteers with the White Helmet Corps, participated in mine clearance operations in the area of Malange between June 1997 and June 1998. “Risky Argentine Mission in Angola” La Nación, 19 April 1999.
[28] An Army Engineers Unit participated in Kuwait under the UNIKOM mission. See Argentina’s Article 13 report to CCW Amended Protocol II, Form E, 15 November 1999.
[29] Argentina’s Article 13 report to Amended Protocol II, Form E, 15 November 1999. See also statement by Argentine Permanent Representative to the UN Minister Ana María Ramírez to the UN General Assembly, New York, 18 November 1999.
[30] Alberto Armendáriz, “Argentina collaborates with the removal of landmines in Nicaragua,” La Nación, 18 April 1999. See also statement by Minister Ana María Ramírez to the UN General Assembly, 18 November 1999.
[31] Email from Juan Luís Hurtado, military member of the mission in Central America, March 2000. Interview with Alejandra Martín, Advisor to the Secretary of Military Affairs, Guillermo Tello, Ministry of Defense, Buenos Aires, March 2000.
[32] Interview with Alejandra Martín, Ministry of Defense, Buenos Aires, March 2000.
[33] Argentina’s Article 13 report to the Amended Protocol II CCW, Form E, 15 November 1999.
[34] Ibid.
[35] Argentina’s Article 13 report to the Amended Protocol II CCW, Form F, 15 November 1999. See also statement by Minister Ana María Ramírez to the UN General Assembly, 18 November 1999.
[36] Response by the Ministry of Defense to Landmine Monitor questionnaire, 8 May 2000.
[37] Ibid.