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Country Reports
AUSTRALIA, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Key developments since March 1999: The Mine Ban Treaty entered into force for Australia on 1 July 1999. Australia destroyed its stockpile of antipersonnel mines in five days at the end of September 1999. Australia expects to spend a new high of US$8 million on mine action programs in its 1999/2000 budget year.

Mine Ban Policy

Australia signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997. The Parliament passed ratification and implementation legislation (“Anti-personnel Mines Convention Act 1998”) on 10 December 1998. Australia officially deposited its ratification with the UN on 14 January 1999. The Mine Ban Treaty thus entered into force for Australia on 1 July 1999.

In addition to the Anti-Personnel Mines Convention Act 1998, other implementation measures include: (1) a training booklet for the Australian National Defence Force that “aims to provide Commanders and staff with an interpretation of revised policy on landmines, booby traps and improvised explosive devices and their application to military operations;”[1] and (2) an information document produced by the Department Of Defence “conveying to the Defence organisation its obligations under the Ottawa Convention.”[2]

Australia participated in the First Meeting of States Parties in Maputo in May 1999. In a statement to the plenary, the head of the Australian delegation said, “The Ottawa Convention has established a persuasive norm against landmines, a norm whose influence we see in the impressive number of countries that have signed and ratified the Convention, as well as in the tone of the debate on landmines issues in international fora.” But he also noted that “the task remains immense and we must ensure that there is no slackening of international political resolve until it is complete.”[3]

Australia’s work in support of universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty has a particular emphasis on its own region. According to Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials, “In late 1999, Australian Diplomatic Missions in the South Pacific undertook a series of representations to governments of those states that have not signed and ratified the convention. The Australian government has undertaken to report on the outcome of these consultations and to follow-up with each state prior to the second meeting of States Parties to the Convention.”[4] Recently Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer raised the issue of U.S. accession to the Mine Ban Treaty in a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.[5]

Australia has been an active and important participant in the intersessional meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty and is a regular participant in the New York-based Mine Action Support Group (MASG). At the March 2000 meeting of the Standing Committee of Experts on Mine Clearance, Australia presented a non-paper on civil and military cooperation for building national capacities for demining. At the December 1999 meeting of the SCE on Stockpile Destruction, Australia made a presentation on its destruction program.

Australia submitted its first Article 7 transparency report on 23 December 1999. The report covers the period from 1 June 1999 to 27 December 1999. On 18 April 2000 Australia submitted its second Article 7 report covering the calendar year 1999; it is identical to the first Article 7 report.

As it had done in previous years, Australia voted in favor of the December 1999 UN General Assembly resolution in support of the Mine Ban Treaty.

In February 2000, Australia appointed the Hon. Senator Kay Patterson, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, as its Special Representative on Demining, succeeding the Hon. Kathy Sullivan.[6]

CCW and CD

Australia ratified the Convention on Conventional Weapons Amended Protocol II on 22 August 1997. Australia submitted its report under Article 13 of Amended Protocol II in November 1999 and participated in the December 1999 First Annual Conference of States Parties. In a statement to the plenary, Australian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN and to the Conference on Disarmament Leslie Luck stated that:

The Australian Government is committed to the attainment of a truly universal ban on the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of anti-personnel mines. This is our priority.... Realistically, however, this goal is unlikely to be achieved in the short or even medium term. Until that time, the restrictions imposed by Amended Protocol II will play an important role in reducing the indiscriminate and inhumane effect of landmines on civilian populations.[7]

In March 2000 a representative of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade described the government’s continued support for negotiation of a transfer ban through the Conference on Disarmament:

Australia believes that a landmine transfers ban would complement the goals of the Ottawa Convention. Such a ban would engage key producers and users of landmines not yet in a position to adhere to the Convention in efforts to further strengthen the global regime against landmines. Australia believes that the Conference on Disarmament...is the most appropriate forum in which to pursue a transfers ban. Australia, however, is prepared to consider alternative options should the CD-route prove unfeasible.[8]

NGO Activities

The Australian Network of the ICBL has participated in most of the treaty intersessional meetings. Activities undertaken by the campaign in the past year include community participation in the Australian government’s Destroy a Minefield initiative, managed by AustCare, a Call for Posters competition, and activities around the annual refugee week in October.

The Australian Network has written to the Australian embassies of non-signatory states of the region. On 3 March 2000, the Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA) and several Australian NGOs and Sri Lankan community groups started collecting signatures for a petition urging the Australian Government to energetically lobby the Sri Lanka Government to sign the Mine Ban Treaty and for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to observe the terms of the Mine Ban Treaty.[9]

ICBL Issues of Concern

An ongoing issue of concern shared by the ICBL and Australia relates to antivehicle mines with antihandling devices. Australia’s then-Special Representative on Demining the Hon. Kathy Sullivan in a February 2000 letter to the ICBL Coordinator stated, “It is also Australia’s understanding that anti-vehicle mines which are configured to explode from an unintentional or innocent act should be treated as anti-personnel landmines for the purposes of the Treaty.”[10] This understanding is shared by the ICBL.

The ICBL has expressed concern about States Parties potentially engaging in joint military operations with non-States Parties that use antipersonnel mines. In this regard, Landmine Monitor Report 1999 expressed concern about and reported in detail on Australia’s National Declaration that was deposited with its instrument of ratification at the UN, as well as Part 2, clause 7(3) of the Anti-personnel Mine Convention Bill.[11] Questions were raised regarding the consistency of the Declaration and clause with the Mine Ban Treaty’s Article 1 prohibition on assisting anyone in any way to engage in any activity prohibited by the treaty.

Production and Transfer

The Australian government states that it has never produced or exported antipersonnel mines. It imported AP mines from the United States in the past.[12]

Stockpiling and Destruction

Australia destroyed its entire stockpile of 128,161 AP mines in a period of five days from 27 September to 1 October 1999.[13] The destruction of the stockpile just three months after entry into force, and nearly four years before the treaty deadline, was described as “a pro-active move on the part of the Australian Government and the Department of Defence.”[14]

The destruction took place in the desert at the Lake Hart Demolition Area, in Woomera, South Australia using a demolition method devised by Defence that involved the preparation of pits laid alternately with mines and ammonium nitrate mixed with diesel fuel. A total of 90,371 NM M14 mines and 37,790 NM M14E1 mines, weighing approximately 27 tons, were destroyed with their fuzes. This particular method was chosen because of the “efficient and cost effective nature of the destruction.”[15] The cost of destruction was approximately US$146,000.[16] The destruction was covered by national news media and the Coordinator of the Australian Network was brought to the destruction site to witness the process.

Colonel Paul Power of the Australian Defence Force, who oversaw the destruction process, presented the Australian case study at the first intersessional meeting on stockpile destruction in Geneva on 9 December 1999. Australia wanted to provide information on its stockpile destruction to other States Parties, especially those in the region, that may require assistance in developing their own destruction techniques. One result of the December 1999 intersessional meeting is that Australian Defence Force personnel have traveled to Peru to discuss destruction options.

Australia has decided to keep 10,000 AP mines, (4,500 NM M16 and 5,500 NM M14) for training and research purposes. According to the Article 7 report, these mines are held in ammunition depots throughout Australia and training is conducted by the School of Military Engineering in Sydney. Australia took the decision to retain these mines after the Department of Defence conducted a “training needs analysis” that determined that:

Defence trains over 600 personnel per year in demining techniques and our training methods require that each student destroys at least one mine during training. Retention of this stock will provide a 10-year training reserve for Defence and will thereby provide adequate time to source training stocks of foreign mines that better suit Australia’s training requirements. Alternatively, if such procurement is not possible, Defence will need to resort to a replica device to meet its research and training requirements. No such device has yet been developed. Depending on the availability of alternative training devices, additional APL may be destroyed during the period 200l-2003.[17]


Australia halted operational use of AP mines on 15 April 1996, though it retains for operational use a stockpile of command-detonated Claymore mines.[18] Use of command-detonated Claymore mines is allowed under the treaty, but not use of Claymores with tripwires. In September 1999, the Australian Defence Force confirmed that it had brought command-detonated Claymore mines to East Timor as part of its peacekeeping mission.[19] This clarification came after media witnessed the unloading of Australia’s supplies at the airport in Dili saw wooden boxes clearly marked “anti-personnel mines.”[20]

Mine Action Funding

The Australian Government, through its international development agency AusAID, has contributed or spent approximately US$30 million on humanitarian mine action from fiscal year 1995/1996 through 1999/2000, including a new high of about $8 million in 1999/2000.[21] In addition, Australia has already committed about $18 million for the period 2000/2001 through 2004/2005. The total of $48 million represents over three-quarters of Australia’s commitment to provide approximately $60 million (Australian $100 million) to mine action by 2005.[22]

AusAID Assistance for Mine Action Programs: Year by Year (US dollars)


$4.5 million
$4.5 million
$5.9 million
$7 million
$8 million
$29.9 million

$6.5 million
$3.2 million
$2.7 million
$2.7 million
$2.7 million

Total: 1996-2005,U.S. $47.7 million

(Australia’s fiscal year is from 1 July to 30 June)

AusAID’s Humanitarian and Emergencies Section coordinates all demining policy and programming within the Australian aid program. This includes contributions to mine action programs globally, in particular through NGOs, as well as contributions to UN agencies. Funding is directed, roughly in descending order of magnitude, to core grants (Cambodian Mine Action Center, Mozambique Accelerated Demining Program, UN Development Program, and UN Mine Action Service), mine clearance (NGOs and UNDP), integrated programs (including surveys), mine victims, equipment and technical assistance (including seminars and conferences) and mine awareness. Core grant contributions cut across all aspects of humanitarian mine action and it is difficult to separate the categories.

There is a clear geographic priority for funding, with the bulk allocated for projects/action in Australia’s immediate region, particularly Cambodia (which has received more than half of Australia’s mine action funding) and Laos. Significant support has also been provided to countries outside of the region, in descending order: Mozambique, Angola, Sri Lanka, and Afghanistan. Funds will soon be available for Thailand.

Summary of Expenditure & Commitments January 1996 to December 2005[23]
Mine Action Programs in Millions of Dollars
Mine Clearance
Mine Awareness
Mine Victims
Integrated Programs
Core Grant
Equipment, Technical Assistance, Seminars & Conferences
TOTAL (Aus.$ Million)

Other recent funding commitments include the Australian government’s “Destroy a Minefield” initiative launched in November 1999 by the Foreign Minister. Approximately $411,000, including $127,200 from sales tax revenue from the Elton John CD “Candle in the Wind” in memory of Princess Diana has been committed to “Destroy a Minefield.” The government will provide one dollar for every two dollars raised by the Australian public for mine clearance in Cambodia.[24] In April 2000, the Australian Government announced a $100,000 contribution to the ICBL’s Landmine Monitor.[25] The Australian Network of the ICBL has received funding assistance from the government to enable participation by campaigners in international meetings, for the cost of advocacy-related meetings both domestic and international, and for an art and photography exhibition by Australian artist George Gittoes.

A proportion of Australian mine action funding includes in kind contributions, either in personnel costs or equipment. The Australian Defence Force provides on a rotating basis two military personnel to work as technical advisers to the U.N.’s Accelerated Demining Program in Mozambique. Australian civilians, and until recently soldiers, provide training and organizational support to Cambodia’s mine action program.[26]

One Australian company, Minelab, has donated a small amount of equipment for use in humanitarian mine clearance. It is envisaged that Australian businesses and corporations will make contributions to mine clearance under the “Destroy a Minefield” initiative.

AusAID is currently developing a policy framework for expenditure of mine action funds. At an April 2000 national gathering of the Australian Network of the ICBL, AusAID presented a summary of the government’s humanitarian mine action strategy.[27] This came after a period of consultation with NGOs, interested individuals (including commercial deminers), multilateral organizations and Australian diplomatic, posts between September and November 1999. There are also guidelines available to NGOs for writing proposals, submitting progress reports and acquitting funds.

In April 1999, following reports of corruption in the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC), Australia, CMAC’s largest donor, temporarily suspended its AusAID funding of approximately $1.7 million a year. In November 1999 CMAC received a bridging payment of $254,400. On 5 April 2000, Australia disbursed $920,000 to a donor trust fund managed by the UNDP, which oversees CMAC's finances, saying the agency had made substantial progress in reforms to address concerns raised during 1999.[28] In early June 2000, the Australian Foreign Minister visited Cambodia to view the CMAC mine clearance program and that of other humanitarian agencies.[29]

Research and Development

In December 1997, Australia announced that its government-funded Australian Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) would spend Australian $4 million over the next five years on “further research into mine detection and neutralization.”[30] In its CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 report, Australia said, “Within the Australian Department of Defence, the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and the Combined Arms Training Centre are developing new methods of clearing mines. Completion of this research will take a number of years. At this stage, Australia is not in a position to provide details, but will do so as soon as methods and technologies are refined.”[31]

In July 1999, the DSTO co-hosted, along with the U.S.-based Mine Warfare Association (MINWARA) and the U.S.-based Wilson Institute for Demining and Humanitarian Assistance, an “International Symposium on Technology and the Mine Problem.” From 26-30 March 2001, MINWARA and the Wilson Institute will be a holding a “Second Australian-American Joint Conference on the Technologies of Mines and Mine Countermeasures” in Sydney, Australia but involvement by the DTSO is unknown.[32]

Since 1996, the University of Western Australia has undertaken research on mine and UXO clearance problems in several countries.[33] At the second SCE on Technologies in May 2000, Professor Trevelyan of the University of Western Australia presented a paper on opportunities for improving the mine action process. This research has been funded principally by the U.S. Department of Defense and by private donations since 1997.

Adelaide-based company Minelab Electronics, together with Canada’s Computer Devices Corporation, has developed the “Improved Landmine Detection System” vehicle.[34]

Landmine Casualties

While Australia is mine-free, there have been a number of civilian and military casualties to landmines from overseas work, but no detailed data is available. Comprehensive national disability laws exist including the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

<Asia-Pacific | CAMBODIA>

[1] Training Information Bulletin (TIB), no. 86, “The Ottawa Convention: A Commander’s Guide,” Article 7 report submitted 23 December 1999.
[2] Defgram, No. 196/99 entitled “Ottawa Landmines Convention—Defence implications and obligations.” A Defgram is a publication disseminated within the Defence Organisation. Article 7 Report submitted to on 23 December 1999.
[3] John J. Griffin, Assistant Secretary, International Security Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, “Australian National Statement to the First Meeting of States Parties to the Ottawa Landmine Ban Convention,” Maputo, 3-7 May 2000.
[4] Email from Philippa King, Permanent Mission of Australia to the United Nations, Geneva, to HRW/Landmine Monitor, 20 June 2000.
[5] Foreign Minister Downer speech at the Australian Network event, the Assessment of the Call for Posters, 29 May 2000. This was reported in Australian Network, Memorandum 47, 31 May 2000.
[6] Letter from the Hon. Kay Patterson, MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, to Elizabeth Bernstein, ICBL Coordinator, received 21 June 2000.
[7] Statement by Australian Ambassador to UN & Conference on Disarmament Leslie Luck to First Conference of State Parties to Amended Protocol II of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, 15 December 1999.
[8] Email from Paul Stephens, Executive Officer, Conventional & Nuclear Disarmament Section, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to Australia Network, 29 March 2000.
[9] Kosala Jayasingh, “Australian action against landmines in Sri Lanka,” Daily News, 8 March 2000.
[10] Letter from the Hon. Kathy Sullivan, MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs to Elizabeth Bernstein, ICBL Coordinator, 10 February 2000. The letter echoed a statement made by the Australian delegate to the January 2000 meeting of the Standing Committee of Experts on the General Status and Operation of the Convention.
[11] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 348-350.
[12] Ibid., pp. 350-351 for more details.
[13] “Australia destroys its Stockpile of Anti-Personnel Landmines,” Media Release by Defence Affairs Organisation, Department of Defence, DPAO 293/99, 28 September 1999. Up until this point, Australian officials had refused to release details on the exact number, types, origins or location of stockpiled AP mines and had given no indication of the timetable for destruction.
[14] Ibid.
[15] Ibid., Annex A.
[16] Ibid., “Response to Specific Questions,” annex.
[17] Ibid., Annex A.
[18] Ibid.
[19] Paul Daley, “Landmines report ‘false’ – Australia,” The Age (Melbourne daily newspaper), 22 September 1999.
[20] Yenny Zannuba, “Australian peacekeepers fly in – peacefully,” The Age, 21 September 1999.
[21] Email from Penny Bond, AusAID, to HRW/Landmine Monitor, 16 June 2000.
[22] This commitment was reiterated at the First Meeting of States Parties. Statement by John Griffin, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to the First Meeting of States Parties, Maputo, 3-7 May 2000.
[23] The dates are both calendar and fiscal years as this represents the period of the Government's 10 year commitment. AusAID: program information as at June 2000. Email from Penny Bond, AusAID, to Stephen Goose, Human Rights Watch, 13 July 2000.
[24] Email from AusAID to Australian Network, 17 March 2000.
[25] Letter from the Hon. Senator Kay Patterson to Landmine Monitor, 3 April 2000.
[26] Australia’s national annual report under CCW Amended Protocol II, Article 13, Form E, submitted November 1999.
[28] “Australian Funding Keeps Cambodian Demining Agency Afloat,” Associated Press (Phnom Penh), 6 April 2000.
[29] “Cambodia's landmine myths exploded,” The Australian, 3 June 2000.
[30] Statement by Alexander Downer, Minister for Foreign Affairs, to the Ministerial Treaty Signing Conference for the Mine Ban Treaty, Ottawa, 3 December 1997.
[31] Australia’s national annual report for CCW Amended Protocol II, Article 13, submitted November 1999.
[32] Mine Warfare Association website <www.demine.org> accessed on 10 June 2000.
[33] Assoc. Prof. James Trevelyan, “The University of Western Australia Demining Research Project 1999-2000,” http://www..mech.uwa.edu.au/jpt/demining/.
[34] “Australia Helps Make World’s 1st Landmine Detection Vehicle,” Asia Pulse Ltd, 8 July 1999.