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Country Reports
FALKLANDS/MALVINAS, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


The Falklands/Malvinas are administered by the United Kingdom but claimed by Argentina, and have been a disputed territory between those two countries since the nineteenth century. The landmine problem in the Falklands/Malvinas stems from the 1982 conflict between the two countries, during which both parties to the conflict laid thousands of antipersonnel and antitank mines, including remotely-delivered antipersonnel and antitank mines.

Both Argentina and the United Kingdom are now States Parties to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Since the islands are under the authority of the United Kingdom, the UK is obliged under Article 5 of the treaty to clear the island territory of AP mines by 1 March 2009, ten years after the treaty entered into force. (See also Argentina and UK country reports).

Landmine Problem

The November 1999 UK estimate of the landmine problem, described in the Hansard Parliamentary record is that:

[A]round 16,600 mines remain in the Falkland Islands. The Argentine armed forces laid 127 minefields on the Falklands in 1982. [UK] Ministry of Defense estimates that 18,000 mines of all types were laid, including 14,000 anti-personnel mines. British forces carried out some clearance immediately after the conflict, lifting about 1,400 mines, but stopped after several injuries to those involved. The remaining 101 minefields are marked and fenced, and therefore not an immediate hazard. The garrison conduct a public campaign to warn of the dangers. They make regular patrols and destroy mines which become exposed on the surface of the ground. The Argentines have given us their minefield records.[1]

In July 1999, Retired Argentine Colonel Manuel Dorrego, who was in charge of laying mines after the Argentine army took control of the islands, told media that after Argentina surrendered he personally handed over to British troops records of the locations of minefields which included coordinates, distances and density (mines per square meter) as well as types of mines laid.[2] He stated, “We thought that we were going to stay in the islands, and that after a while, we would have had to remove the landmines ourselves. We never had doubts about keeping records.”[3]

Retired Brigadier General Carlos Roberto Matalón, Chief of the 10th Company of Engineers of the Argentine Army, noted in a letter published in La Nación in May 1999 that his Company had laid 12,000 mines during the war and that he, along with Colonel Dorrego, handed a complete record of the locations of the minefields to British Mayor MacDonald.[4]

The UK’s first and second Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 transparency reports state that there are “117 minefields containing either anti-personnel, anti-vehicle mines or a combination of both.”[5] When the first Article 7 report was deposited three items were also submitted: Stanley Minefield Record Map revised 12/06/90; Stanley Minefield and Area Situation; and Camp Minefield Situation map dated 01/02/94.[6]

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 to Landmine Monitor, which is contained in Table I.

Table I: Mines remaining in the Falklands/Malvinas

Mine type
Country of origin
No.4 AP Blast Mine
SB-33 AP Blast Mine
FMK-1 AP Blast Mine
P4B AP Blast Mine
FMK-3 AT Blast Mine
No.6 AT Blast Mine (copy of Russian TM-46)
M1A1 (1944) AT Mine
SB-81 AT Blast Mine
C-3-B AT Blast Mine
BL-755 AT and AP Cluster Bomblet


Mined areas are reportedly very clearly fenced off. Access is denied 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.

Mine Clearance

Argentina’s former President Carlos Saúl Menem submitted a statement on the Falklands/Malvinas to the National Assembly at the same time as the MBT ratification instrument, which was accepted without amendment. It states that “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.”[8] A similar statement was made by Fernando Petrella, Argentine Permanent Representative to the UN, in a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan dated 16 December 1999.[9]

Argentina has offered assistance to mine clearance operations on the islands. Alternate Permanent Representative to the UN, Minister Ana María Ramírez, said in a statement to the UN General Assembly in November 1999 that the offer of Argentina “was accepted by the British government and currently both Foreign Affairs Ministries are interchanging ideas regarding the characteristics that would be involved in a bilateral agreement to carry out a feasibility study, [which is] necessary prior to mine removal tasks.”[10]

Earlier in the year, at the First Meeting of State Parties held in Maputo in May 1999, Argentine Minister Pedro Villagra Delgado, Director of International Safety, Nuclear and Space Affairs Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, noted that “my government and the UK government agreed, through the Argentine-British Action Agenda signed in London on 29 October 1998, to work together on evaluating the feasibility and cost of removing landmines that are still planted in the Malvinas Islands. We hope to promptly conclude a memorandum of understanding on how to carry out this evaluation.”[11]

In May 1999 former Argentine Minister Foreign Affairs, Hon. Guido di Tella, and UK Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Robin Cook, held a meeting in London where the mines issue was not formally on the agenda but it was intensely discussed, with members of the Legislative Council of the Falklands present for the first time.[12] Media reported that private clearance companies from the U.S. and Europe had offered their services for mine clearance in the islands but that the UK military wanted to do the mine clearance themselves. On the other hand, Argentina made an offer to help finance the work but only if it is not carried out by the UK military. General Charles Guthrie of the United Kingdom told media that both countries were working on a landmine clearance feasibility study.[13]

On 14 July 1999, both governments restated their commitment to cooperate on mine clearance in a Joint Statement by former Foreign Affairs Minister di Tella of Argentina and Foreign Affairs Minister Cook of the UK. A paragraph of the Joint Statement said, “As agreed in October 1998 by the president of the Argentine Republic and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the two governments will continue to work together to evaluate the feasibility and the cost of the removal of the landmines still present in the Malvinas Islands.” The Joint Agreement was sent to the Secretary General of the United Nations, to be distributed as an official document in the next ordinary session of the General Assembly.[14]

The Joint Statement also noted, “We are fully committed to the Mine Ban Treaty, which requires us to clear all anti-personnel mines from the Falklands Islands within 10 years of entry, unless we can show good reasons why an extension should be granted. Such reasons may include humanitarian, environmental and technical considerations. Mine clearance in the Falkland Islands is both difficult and dangerous and we shall be keeping these points in mind.”[15]

In March 2000, Geoff Hoon, UK Secretary of State for Defense visited Buenos Aires for an official visit. According to reports in the Argentine media, the conditions for Argentine assistance in the clearance of landmines in the islands were allegedly discussed and the UK agreed to the offer of Argentine economic assistance.[16] Newspaper reports quoted high-ranking officials at the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs as saying that there was a possibility of reaching an agreement on joint mine clearance operations of the islands through an international bidding process called by both the Argentine and UK governments.[17]

Mine Awareness

According to the UK’s April 2000 Article 7 Report, warning measures include the following:

  • The minefields are surrounded with a three strand fence and there are signs, marked “Danger Mines” at regular intervals around the perimeter, in addition to the NATO standard mine warning triangles;
  • Local schools are given mines and unexploded ordnance briefings at least once a year until the children leave school aged 16;
  • As a force protection measure, all inbound passengers on the Royal Air Force flight receive an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit briefing in the Arrivals Lounge at the Falkland Islands principal airfield (Mount Pleasant Airfield);
  • The JSEOD unit liaises closely with the Falkland Islands government to ensure passengers arriving on cruise ships and civilian charter aircraft are aware of the dangers of mines.’[18]

The 1998 Hidden Killers report by the U.S. Department of State listed a total of fourteen casualties to landmines in the Falklands/Malvinas.[19] It is not known when the last casualty occurred.


[1] Hansard (Official UK Parliamentary record), 30 November 1999, col. 160W.
[2] “Mine removal in the islands would cost over US$ 100 million,” La Nación, 21 July 1999, p.8.
[3] Ibid.
[4] “Minefields,” Letters from Readers, La Nación, 21 May 1999, p.50.
[5] UK Article 7 Reports, Form I, submitted 26 August 1999 and 17 April 2000.
[6] UK Article 7 Report, Form C, submitted 26 August 1999.
[7] Alejandra Conti, “Malvinas: there are minefields,” La Nación, 17 June 1999, p. 4.
[8] Landmine Monitor has a copy of the interpretative statement. See also Response by Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Landmine Monitor questionnaire, 30 March 2000.
[9] Landmine Monitor has a copy of the letter.
[10] Statement by Argentine Alternate Permanent Representative to the UN Minister Ana María Ramírez to the UN General Assembly 54th session, New York, 18 November 1999.
[11] Statement by Minister Pedro Villagra Delgado to the First Meeting of State Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, Maputo, 3-7 May 1999. See also the UK government’s Hansard (UK Parliamentary record), 30 November 1999, col. 160W.
[12] “Progress intended in mine clearance in Malvinas,” La Nación, 24 May 1999, p. 11.
[13] La Nación, 24 May 1999.
[14] “The Statement,” La Nación, 15 July 1999, p. 3.
[15] Hansard (UK Parliamentary record), 30 November 1999, col. 160W.
[16] Andrea Centeno, “London Trusts e la Rua,” La Nación, 10 March 2000, p. 3.
[17] Andrea Centeno, “London will propose removal of mines from Malvinas,” La Nación, 9 March 2000, p. 14; Andrea Centeno, “London Trusts De la Rúa,” La Nación, 10 March 2000, p. 3.
[18] UK Article 7 Report, Form I, submitted 17April 2000.
[19] U.S. Department of State, Hidden Killers: the Global Landmine Crisis, September 1998, p. A-4.