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


Key developments since March 1999: Ecuador ratified the Mine Ban Treaty on 29 April 1999, and it entered into force for Ecuador on 1 October 1999. Ecuador destroyed 101,458 antipersonnel mines from stockpiles. Ecuador and Perδ have made significant progress in mine clearance along the border. In April 1999, the “Program for Demining Assistance in Ecuador/Perú” was established by the OAS. In August 1999, UNMAS and the OAS undertook independent assessment missions to Ecuador. In September 1999, Ecuador established a National Demining Center.

Mine Ban Policy

Ecuador signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 4 December 1997. On 30 March 1999, the National Congress approved ratification of the treaty. After a presidential decree authorizing ratification, Ecuador deposited its instrument of ratification on 29 April 1999. According to the Ministry of Foreign Relations ratification of the Ottawa Treaty constitutes an important aspect of Ecuador’s foreign policy.[1] The treaty entered into force for Ecuador on 1 October 1999. Ratification of international treaties automatically makes them law in Ecuador, but no specific implementation legislation has been enacted.

Ecuador’s Vice-minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Francisco Carrión, led the country’s delegation to the First Meeting of the State Parties in Maputo in May 1999. Ecuador has participated in the intersessional meetings of the treaty in Geneva.

Ecuador voted in favor of the December 1999 UN General Assembly resolution in support of the Mine Ban Treaty, as it had or similar UNGA resolutions in 1997 and 1998. Ambassador Mario Aleman, Ecuador’s Permanent Representative to the UN, said to the General Assembly, “My country participated with tremendous interest in the Ottawa process and has begun implementing the Convention through the creation of the Ecuadorian Demining Centre, a little more than a month ago.”[2]

Ecuador submitted its Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 transparency report in Spanish on 29 March 2000. The report covers the period from April 1999 to March 2000.

Ecuador is a State Party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons but has not ratified Amended Protocol II on landmines. Ecuador participated as an observer in the First Annual Conference of State Parties to Amended Protocol II in December 1999 in Geneva.

In August 1999 Ecuador was made a member of the Conference on Disarmament.

Production and Transfer

A military official confirmed to Landmine Monitor that Ecuador has not produced or exported AP mines.[3] From information contained in Ecuador’s Article 7 report, it appears Ecuador imported antipersonnel mines in the past from Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Singapore, the former Soviet Union, Spain, and the United States.[4]

Stockpiling and Destruction

In its Article 7 report, Ecuador reported a stockpile of 271,802 AP mines:

  • 128,931 T-AB-1 blast AP mines from Brazil;
  • 93,278 MAPP 78 F-2 blast AP mines from Chile;
  • 4,655 MAPP 78 F-2 blast AP mines from Chile (instruc.);
  • 70 P-4-B blast AP mines from Spain;
  • 58 PMD-6M blast AP mines from the former Soviet Union;
  • 200 PRB-M 35 blast AP mines from Belgium;
  • 10,061 PRB-M 409 blast AP mines from Belgium;
  • 25,151 VS-50 blast AP mines from Singapore;
  • 3,525 MAPT 78 F-2 fragmentation AP mines from Chile;
  • 17 M18A1 Claymore mines from the USA;
  • 5,856 MON-50 fragmentation AP mines imported from the former Soviet Union.[5]

Ecuador reports destroying 101,458 antipersonnel mines between April 1999 and March 2000, including 93,278 MAPP 78 F-2 mines; 4,655 MAPP 78 F-2 training mines; and 3,525 MAPT 78 F-2 mines.[6] The mines were transferred to the “Brigada de Apoyo Logístico No.25 Reino de Quito” for destruction by detonation at the Army’s “El Corazón” Practice Institution in Machachi, Pichincha province.[7] Military officials told the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in August 1999 that they planned to destroy from stockpiles in the year 2000 a total of 110,000 antipersonnel mines, 9,000 antitank mines and 4,000 assorted munitions.[8]

In its Article 7 report, Ecuador reported that it would retain 170,344 AP mines for training. This includes: 128,931 T-AB-1 mines; 25,151 VS-50 mines; 58 PMD-6M mines; 200 PRB M-35 mines; 70 P-4-B mines; 10,061 PRB M-409 mines and 5,856 MON-50 mines, and 17 M18A1 Claymore mines.[9]

On 22 May 2000, at the second Standing Committee of Experts on Stockpile Destruction, the ICBL stated its concern at the number of mines Ecuador had chosen to retain, noting that it was ten times the number retained by any other country, and far outside of the treaty’s requirement that the amount “shall not exceed the minimum number absolutely necessary.” The ICBL voiced it concern again on 30 May 2000 in an information session on mines retained for training under Article 3 at the Standing Committee of Experts on General Status and Operation of the Convention. Ecuador’s representative came to the closing session of the meeting and said he wanted to clarify a “mistake in the presentation of the [Article 7] report.” He said the reported number of mines retained for training will need to be revised, and will be “in accordance with the provisions of the Convention and the exact figure will be provided prior to the Second Meeting of States Parties.”[10]


Ecuador states that it has not used antipersonnel mines since the Cenepa border conflict with Peru in 1995.[11] Ecuador contends that Peru laid mines as well during the conflict, but Peru denies any use.

Landmine Problem

According to the Latin American Association for Human Rights (ALDHU), both parties laid some 130,000 to 150,000 AP mines.[12] UNMAS reports that these figures do not contradict information received by the Ecuadorian military, who estimate the number of mines on the Ecuadorian side of the border in the Cordillera del Condór region to be in excess of 90,000.[13]

Ecuador’s mine problem is along its southern border with Peru and the two southern provinces of El Oro and Loja. According to UNMAS, the most mined area is the Cordillera del Cóndor, where the 1995 conflict broke out, along 78 kilometers of the previously unmarked border.[14] The majority of mines are believed to be located in the headwaters of the Cenepa and Coangos Rivers, in an area of approximately 80 square kilometers.[15]

In its Article 7 report, Ecuador reported five mine affected areas from the border dispute: Cordillera del Cóndor in the south-east border region; Cusumaza-Bombuiza in the east-central border region; El Oro Province in the southern border region; Loja Province in the southern border region; and, Tiwintza on the Peruvian side of the border.[16] Antipersonnel mines may also have been laid in Montalvo in the east-central border region. The landmines laid are almost exclusively antipersonnel and include T-AB-1, MAPP 78 F-2, MON-50, P-4-B, PMD-6M, PRB M35, PRB M409, TS-50, VA-50 and M28A1.[17]

Ecuadorian military minefield records were provided to Multinational Observation Mission (MOMEP) but have not been made public. The Cordillera del Condór contains an immensely rich biological and floral ecosystem, and in relation to the rest of the country, is sparsely populated with an estimated 13,000 inhabitants on the Ecuadorian side of the border, including 7,000 Shuar and Achuar indigenous peoples and 6,000 mestizo settlers.[18] It is expected that Shuar and Achuar displaced by the conflict will return now that there is peace.

According to UNMAS, there are a “limited” number of minefields in the southern provinces of El Oro and Loja, laid as barrier minefields by Ecuador in 1995. Ecuador’s military claims that the minefields are well marked and fenced and “pose a limited threat” to civilian populations, but acknowledge that there has been some significant displacement of mines due to the heavy flooding resulting from El Niño. Both El Oro and Loja provinces have higher population densities than the Cordillera del Condór.[19]

UNMAS reports that Ecuador’s forces state that they have not laid mines along the border with Colombia, but they did raise the possibility that Colombian guerrilla forces active in these areas may have laid mines there.[20]

Mine Action Funding

UNMAS notes none of the funds for the Ecuador-Peru Bi-National Development Plan are being set aside for mine action.

The Peruvian and Ecuadorian governments sent a joint note on 18 March 1999 from their Permanent Missions to the OAS, requesting the OAS to establish a specific fund to support demining related to the demarcation of the border.[21] In April 1999, the “Program for Demining Assistance in Ecuador/Perú” (PADEP) was established by the OAS with a Canadian government contribution of CAN$300,000 (US$198,000) to be divided equally between the countries and used exclusively for the purchase of equipment and materials for activities to support humanitarian demining associated with the demarcation of the border between Ecuador and Peru.

At the 30th General Assembly of the OAS held in Windsor, Canada on 4-6 June 2000, delegates voted unanimously on a resolution calling on the OAS to continue efforts to provide assistance in combating AP mines in Ecuador and Peru.[22]

Several countries have contributed to the Ecuadorian mine clearance operation with both monetary and in-kind contributions including Canada, Spain, and the United States. Japan has offered financial assistance and Brazil has offered technical assistance.[23] Ecuador was included in the U.S. humanitarian demining program on 22 February 1999 and will receive approximately $3.225 million in assistance between 1999 and 2000.

Surveys and Assessments

From 16-20 August 1999 the Organization of American States conducted a multi-disciplinary mission with the U.S. Department of State in Ecuador and Peru to evaluate the antipersonnel landmine situation in the border region of the two countries.[24]

From 23-27 August 1999, the UN Mine Action Service organized and led a multi-disciplinary and inter-agency mission to Ecuador.[25]

Mine Clearance

The Centro de Desminado del Ecuador, CEDESMI (Ecuadorian Mine Clearance Center) was officially established by Executive Decree 1297 on 22 September 1999. Mine clearance in Ecuador is the responsibility of the Army Engineers, specifically the 23rd Cenepa Engineer Brigade, which has a 95-man company consisting of six 15-man demining teams.[26] The Engineers hope to increase their demining capacity by at least another 95-man company in 2000, subject to receiving international support.

The Engineers are described by UNMAS as “professional, well trained and generally well equipped” with a “good, trust based relationship with the local population.”[27] The UNMAS Assessment Mission report gives a detailed description of the challenges faced in mine clearance as well as techniques, equipment and other aspects.[28]

In cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Army has developed a plan for clearance of all mines from Ecuador by the year 2008. The first priority for mine clearance was the demining of the sites for the border markers, in collaboration with Perú’s Armed Forces. Ecuador cleared 12 of 23 sites in the Cordillera del Condór, a task completed in 1999.

Now there are five phases planned for mine clearance: the Twinza memorial area in Peru; the Ecuadorian side of the cross-border ecological Peace Park; the minefields in El Oro; the minefields in Loja; and the remainder of the Cordillera del Condór.[29]

Mine Awareness

Some limited mine awareness education has been undertaken by the military’s psychological operations branch which recently produced and distributed posters and pamphlets with mine awareness messages, using Army funds and some assistance from the U.S. military. In Loja and El Oro provinces, some mine awareness education has taken place by the military with the help of local schools. Young Ashuar and Shuar men used by the military as scouts during the conflict are conceivably the most knowledgeable of all concerning the location of mined areas and they are thought to pass this information on to their communities, alerting them about mine areas and how to avoid accidents.[30] According to the Director of ALDHU, Ashuar and Shuar indigenous peoples are at risk because of the levels of illiteracy and lack of knowledge of the problem.[31]

UNMAS has recommended that the military strengthen coordination and seek assistance from other crucial actors in mine awareness education including the Ministries of Health and Education, the church, NGOs, local authorities, and affected communities.[32]

Landmine Casualties

There is no systematic data gathering mechanism for landmine incidents in Ecuador and exact figures are unavailable. The Ministry of Health of Ecuador does not have an official registry of landmine casualties and the National Statistics Institute (INEC) also does not have information on landmine victims in the country.

The military told UNMAS that since the end of the conflict in 1995 there have been approximately 34 landmine-related accidents involving soldiers, including seven deaths.[33] Military authorities in Patuca reported five civilians injured by landmines in 1995, and the Achuar representative in Macas reported four landmine victims in 1997, including one death.[34] ALDHU reported eleven Shuar deaths and seven military deaths due to landmines between April 1995 and April 1999.[35] ALDHU’s director, Juan de Dios Parra, told Landmine Monitor that nine children and four women from indigenous communities of the border areas between Ecuador and Perú injured were injured by mines in the same period.[36]

UNMAS was told of a 1999 accident involving a civilian in an area near Mirado that had reportedly been declared “demined.”[37] The Director of ALDHU told Landmine Monitor that the incident raises doubts over the success of the demining process and points towards a need for quality assurance and verification.[38]

There are not believed to have been any new mine victims so far in 2000.

Victim Assistance and Disability Policies

The military in Ecuador has a well-structured and responsive health care system that provides integrated care to military landmine victims through the Instituto de Seguridad Social de las Fuerzas Armadas, ISSFA (Social Security Institute of the Armed Forces). According to UNMAS, the military hospital in Quito offers an integrated approach to rehabilitation that includes physical, psychological, professional and vocational programs and a rehabilitation center for outpatient treatment.[39] Military personnel receive full coverage from these services.

Civilians injured by landmines do not receive the same level of attention and are not provided with adequate services. According to UNMAS, this reflects the gaps and weaknesses of the current health system, which is particularly acute in the remote and relatively inaccessible border regions that are mine-affected.[40] Individuals who live in remote areas must rely on small medical outposts with only a basic infrastructure or travel long distances to Quito to get appropriate medical attention, a situation described by one local disability organization as “absolutely inadequate.”[41]


[1] Ministry of Foreign Relations of Ecuador, “Informe a la Nación 1998-1999, Tomo II,” Quito, January 2000.
[2] Statement by Ambassador Mario Alemán, Ecuador’s Permanent Representative to the UN, at the Plenary Session of the UN General Assembly, New York, 19 November 1999.
[3] Telephone interview with Colonel Roberto Tandazo, 31 March 2000.
[4] Article 7 Report, Form B, submitted 29 March 2000.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Article 7 Report, Form G, 29 March 2000.
[7] Article 7 Report, Forms D and F, 29 March 2000.
[8] UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Mission Report: Ecuador,” 15 November 1999, p. 20.
[9] Article 7 Report, Form D, 29 March 2000.
[10] Notes taken by Mary Wareham, Human Rights Watch, 30 May 2000.
[11] Telephone interview with Colonel Miguel Patricio Proaño, 27 March 2000. There have been reports of use since 1995. The Latin American Association for Human Rights (ALDHU) told the UN in December 1996 that mine-laying activities were still on-going in the contested area and that an estimated 10,000 landmines had been laid since the cease-fire of February 1995. UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Mission Report: Ecuador,” 15 November 1999, p. 11. A former Defense Minister has said that in the last tense moments before the end of peace negotiations in October 1998, a brief “landmine war” was fought between the two countries, which consisted of use of AP mines used by both parties “against enemy patrols” in border areas. Pablo Cuvi, Interview with General José Gallardo, in Al Filo de la Paz [On the Edge of Peace], (Dinediciones, Quito), March 2000, pp. 49-68.
[12] ALDHU Report, “Human and Environmental Security of Shuar, Achuar (Ecuador), Aguaruna, Huambisa (Peru) Populations after the War,” August 1999.
[13] UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Mission Report: Ecuador,” 15 November 1999, p. 11.
[14] Ibid, p. 10.
[15] Ibid, p. 11.
[16] Article 7 Report, Form C, 29 March 2000.
[17] UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Mission Report: Ecuador,” 15 November 1999, p. 12.
[18] Ibid, p. 13.
[19] Ibid, p. 11.
[20] Ibid.
[21] See OAS contribution to Landmine Monitor Report 2000.
[22] Press release 141, “Axworthy welcomes progress on democracy and human security at the OAS General Assembly,” 6 June 2000.
[23] UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Mission Report: Ecuador,” 15 November 1999, p. 17.
[24] OAS contribution to Landmine Monitor Report 2000.
[25] UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Mission Report: Ecuador,” 15 November 1999.
[26] Ibid., p. 15.
[27] Ibid, p. 16.
[28] Ibid, p. 15-16.
[29] Ibid, p. 16.
[30] Ibid, p. 18.
[31] Telephone interview with Juan de Dios Parra, Director, Latin American Association for Human Rights (ALDHU), 24 March 2000.
[32] UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Mission Report: Ecuador,” 15 November 1999, pp. 27-28.
[33] Ibid, p. 12.
[34] Ibid, p. 12.
[35] Ibid, p. 13.
[36] Telephone interview with Juan de Dios Parra, ALDHU, 24 March 2000.
[37] UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Mission Report: Ecuador,” 15 November 1999, p. 13.
[38] Telephone interview with Juan de Dios Parra, ALDHU, 24 March 2000.
[39] UNMAS, “Mine Action Assessment Mission Report: Ecuador,” 15 November 1999, p. 19.
[40] Ibid, p. 19.
[41] Email from Carlos Alberto Soto, Director of FEDUCA (an Ecuadorian NGO that works with disabled people) to CCCM for Landmine Monitor, 7 April 2000.