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

FRANCE

Key developments since March 1999: France completed destruction of its nearly 1.1 million stockpiled antipersonnel mines in December 1999. France served as co-chair of the SCE on Technologies for Mine Action. The national commission to monitor ban treaty implementation became operational in June 1999. France contributed about US$2.7 million to mine action programs in 1999, including donations to the EU.

Mine Ban Policy

France signed the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) on 3 December 1997 and ratified on 25 June 1998. Domestic implementation legislation was enacted on 8 July 1998. Since then France has made rapid progress on implementation of the MBT.

In a December 1999 letter, Prime Minister Lionel Jospin noted, “Since the Convention’s ratification and the adoption of the national law, France has defended the Mine Ban cause, victim assistance and mine clearance, in the framework of international fora as well as in numerous bilateral contacts. It seems to me that this determined diplomatic action has to remain the French Government’s main contribution to the universalization of the Ottawa Convention.”[1]

Toward that end, the government created the Commission Nationale pour l’Elimination des Mines Anti-personnel (CNEMA, the National Commission for the Elimination of Antipersonnel Mines). Its mission is to ensure monitoring and enforcement of the MBT and of international actions by France to help landmine victims and to aid in mine clearance.[2] The Prime Minister attended the first meeting in June 1999; there have been five meetings since then. CNEMA is noteworthy for including nongovernmental organizations such as Handicap International. CNEMA representatives have attended the ban treaty intersessional Standing Committee of Experts (SCE) meetings as part of the French delegation, and witnessed stockpile destruction. The CNEMA annual report, due to be presented to the Prime Minister in July 2000, includes an account of French implementation measures and also recommendations which have been the result of discussions among different components of the CNEMA.

The government participated in the First Meeting of States Parties to the MBT in May 1999, where it agreed to serve as co-chair of the newly established SCE on Technologies for Mine Action. France has attended meetings of all the Standing Committees of Experts. The Ministry of Defense made a presentation at the Stockpile Destruction SCE on 22 May 2000.[3]

France submitted its first Article 7 report on 26 August 1999, covering the period 1 March 1999 to 31 July 1999. Some information was considered unclear by the Observatoire des Transferts d’Armements that led to discussion in the CNEMA. These questions were resolved in the second report, submitted on 3 May 2000, covering the period 1 August 1999 to 31 March 2000.

France has taken other initiatives in favor of universalization and implementation of the MBT. When French mine stockpiles were destroyed at the end of 1999, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a press release to all embassies with the instruction to present this information to local authorities and raise the landmine issue with them.[4] In 1999 the ICBL contacted all of the Francophonie Heads of States about universalisation and implementation of the MBT. After the Francophonie summit, Jacques Chirac informed Handicap International that “the issue had effectively been debated among Heads of States and governments in Moncton.... The Action Plan we adopted includes this commitment and the expression of our willingness to contribute to the implementation of the provisions of this fundamental text.”[5] A new resolution was adopted during the Francophonie Parliamentary Assembly, which was held in Yaounde in Cameroon in July 2000.

A few days before the first anniversary of the entry into force of the MBT on 1 March 2000, France confirmed its intention to organize, jointly with Canada, a regional seminar in Africa to “promote universality and comprehensive implementation of the Ottawa Convention.”[6] It is planned to take place in the beginning of 2001.

France ratified Amended Protocol II of the Convention on Conventional Weapons on 4 March 1998, and attended the First Conference of States Parties to the protocol in December 1999, having submitted its report as required under Article 13. France supports the European Union initiative to have an AP mine transfer ban apply to countries which are not MBT signatories, but regrets the lack of commitment by other States on this issue.[7]

During the United Nations General Assembly in September 1999 France tried unsuccessfully to propose a resolution supporting mine ban deliberations in all relevant fora, including the Conference on Disarmament (CD). It was withdrawn after strong opposition and, the government fully supported the UNGA resolution 54/54B in December 1999.

Production

A moratorium on AP mine production was announced in September 1995, later superseded by the national legislation of 8 July 1998 implementing the MBT in France.[8] Additionally, the Ministry of Defense stated that the interministerial commission responsible for war material export authorizations would refuse any request concerning components which could be used in the production of AP mines.[9]

Companies which were previously involved in this industry are still not transparent on what has happened to AP mine-production facilities. In a letter responding to the President of the CNEMA, SAE Alsetex stated that since 1995 it has converted its former production facilities, has not produced AP mines since 1982, and never licensed production of either AP mines or their components. Surprisingly, Giat Industries stated that it has never developed, produced nor sold any AP mines, components or disseminating system, does not possess AP mine-production facilities, and has not licensed production of AP mines or their components.[10] Yet Giat has long been identified as one of the two major landmine producers in France, after the company bought Poudres Réunies de Belgique in 1990.[11]

Presented with inquiries regarding some French antivehicle mines with antihandling devices that may function as AP mines, and if so, would therefore be banned by the MBT,[12] the Ministry of Defense responded as indicated in the list below.[13] Further investigations of mines stated as “currently stockpiled” will be carried out by NGOs.

1. Mines that, according the Ministry of Defense, have been studied but never produced: 

  • APILAS (inherent anti-disturbance features)
  • APILAS-APA (break wire sensor package)
  • HPD 1-A (inherent anti-disturbance features)
  • HPD 2 (inherent anti-disturbance features, cocked striker mechanism in firing chain)
  • HPD 3 (inherent anti-disturbance features)
  • ACPM (contains secondary fuze wells for antihandling device)
  • HPD (seismic sensor and magnetic influence fuze),
  • M AZ AC Wide Area Mine (acoustic sensors),
  • MI AC PM E (pressure plate, unknown sensitivity)
  • MI AC DISP (unknown antihandling capability),
  • MITRAL (item in development, unknown sensitivity of pressure fuze)

2. Mines that are currently stockpiled, according to the Ministry of Defense:

  • HPD F 2 (inherent anti-disturbance features)
  • MIACAH F1 (break wire fuze)
  • MI AC Disp F1 (magnetic influence fuze)

3. Mines that have been destroyed, according to the Ministry of Defense:

  • MI AC M CC MLE 56 (also designated Model 1956, tilt rod fuze)
  • Model 48/55 (can be used with M1954 tilt rod fuze)
  • Type 1954 (tilt rod fuze)
  • Model 1947 (provisions for one or two booby trap fuzes)
  • Model 1948 (Model 1952 Pressure/Pressure Release fuze provides an anti-withdrawal feature)
  • Model 1948 T (including tilt rod variant)
  • Model 1951 -- including all metallic, nonmetallic, tilt rod, and shaped charge variants -- (contains secondary fuze wells for antihandling device, such as M1951 fuze)
  • Model 1951 Grille (contains secondary fuze wells for antihandling device, cocked striker mechanism in firing chain)
  • Model 1952 -- including all metallic, nonmetallic, tilt rod, and shaped charge variants -- (contains secondary fuze wells for antihandling device, such as M1951 fuze)
  • Type 542-L (contains secondary fuze wells for antihandling device)
  • Type 1953 (uses unknown mine as initiating charge, other fuzing unknown)
  • In addition, HPD F 1 (inherent anti-disturbance features) is awaiting destruction.

4. Mines which are unknown to the Ministry of Defense:

  • L14A1 (variant produced for UK contains break wire)
  • ACL 89 (item in development, seismic and IR sensors)
  • ATM Heavy (unknown nomenclature, motion sensitive fuze)
  • ATM Light (unknown nomenclature, motion sensitive fuze)
  • GIAT Lance (magnetic influence fuze)
  • MACIPE (unknown antihandling capability)
  • MI AC PR F2 (pressure plate, unknown sensitivity)
  • MI AS DISP (unknown antihandling capability)

5. Mines for which France stopped its participation in research and development:

  • MI AC PED GIAT (item in development, break wire sensor)
  • MI AC PED ARGES (in development with GE and UK, IR sensor)

In the lists above, the descriptions are taken from a Human Rights Watch document outlining antivehicle mines with antihandling devices of concern.[14]

Transfer

France was an exporter of landmines in the past.[15] Questioned about France’s interpretation of the MBT prohibition on “assist” with respect to transfer and transit, the Ministry of Defense stated that any transfer or transit operation for another purpose than the ones authorized under Article 3 of the Convention would be considered as illicit.[16]

Stockpile and Destruction

On 20 December 1999, France destroyed its last AP mines in the presence of Alain Richard, Minister of Defense, three years ahead of the MBT deadline. In its second Article 7 report, France gives significant details about its stockpile, including names, quantities, lot numbers, status and location of destruction (either within the country or overseas), and bodies responsible for the destruction (either the Army or private companies). Seven different types of fuzes have also been destroyed.

Table 1. Mines which have been destroyed overseas by the French Army[17]

Date

Location

Number of Mines
6 and 7 September 1999
French Guyana
368
28 September 1999
Ivory Coast
120
11 and 12 October 1999
New Caledonia
1074
2,3 & 4 November 1999
Djibouti
2444
TOTAL
4006

Between 17 June 1996 and 20 December 1999 a total of 1,098,281 mines, 192,439 fuzes and 132,786 components have been destroyed, as detailed in Table 2.

Table 2. Progress of AP Mine destruction 1996-1999[18]


Destroyed
since 1996 by DCMAT*
Destroyed since 1997 by other Army bodies
Destroyed in 1998 by private companies
Destroyed in 1999 by private companies
Destroyed overseas by Army
Total
Total retained
APMs
88,348
4,006
706,865
295,056
4,006
1,098,281
3,873
Fuzes
4,351
683
169,321
18,068
16
192,439
0

*Direction Centrale du Matériel de l’Armée de Terre (DCMAT)

In addition to the above, the private company Formetal destroyed 132,786 components, and 2,996 exercise AP mines were destroyed by Formetal and AF Demil in 1998 and 1999. Greater detail of the destruction of French stockpile, including a breakdown by year, type of mines, numbers, date, site of and the entity responsible for destruction is given in the CNEMA report.[19]

The second Article 7 report gives the actual total of French mines retained for training purposes, as permitted under the MBT, as 3,873 and details its composition, plus 641 foreign AP mines, totalling 4,514.[20] This stock can be renewed. NGOs have encouraged France to include in its Article 7 reports not only the composition but also the use of this stock. This issue is also of concern to the CNEMA, as stated in its first annual report.[21]

In its second Article 7 report, France also mentioned a suspected mined area in the military storage area of La Doudah, a French military zone on the territory of Djibouti. This situation seemed to have occurred after torrential rains prevented the total clearance of this minefield. France reported that this area being inside a military zone is not accessible to the public, does not pose any danger to people and is properly marked and posted with warning signs.

Use

During parliamentary debates in June 1998, the Minister of Defense said that France had already declared before the Atlantic Alliance that “it would unreservedly enforce the Ottawa Treaty. France will prohibit the planned or actual use of antipersonnel mines in any military operation whatsoever by its military personnel. Furthermore, France will refuse to agree to rules of engagement in any military operation calling for the use of antipersonnel mines."[22] This was made effective in a directive sent out by the Joint Chief of Staff in November 1998.

During the NATO air operation in Kosovo in early 1999, some parliamentarians questioned the government on this issue, and the government answered that “during the conflict in Kosovo, France did not use either antipersonnel landmines or submunitions....”[23]

The ICBL has called on all NATO members to adopt a NATO-wide policy of non-use of AP mines in joint operations. In October 1999 Hubert Védrine, Minister of Foreign Affairs, recalled the directives officially stated by the Chief of Staff in November 1998, which forbid any French military personnel to use APMs, participate in planning operations employing use of APMs, or give an agreement to any document mentioning a possible use. These elements were presented in the framework of a NATO military working group in May 1998. The Minister added that if France cannot determine the rules that the army of another State has to obey, it recommends in case of joint operation the use of means in accordance with the MBT. France will make sure that rules adopted by its partners will not put it in a position which would contradict its international commitment.[24]

Mine Action Funding

In 1999, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs created a new “Fund for Aid for Cooperation” (FAC) for mine action programs, which will be endowed with FF 20 million (US$2.85 million) for a period of three years. While signalling its interest in mine action, the amount is small to cover all activities related to mine action, including victim assistance. (Funds from the FAC will not be used for research and development in demining technology.) Both French NGOs and CNEMA have encouraged the government to increase this endowment rapidly.

Projects funded from the FAC will have to be implemented in a country either signatory or State Party to the MBT, with an exception for humanitarian considerations. This policy helps promote the MBT and follows existing European Union policy. The beneficiary country must also be identified as a priority in the French Co-operation policy. FAC funds will be able to be used via UN agencies in a specific country.

France also wants to pay special attention to other sponsors of a project, in order to maximize coordination and the effectiveness of projects. However, French implementing agencies (whether NGOs or not), which are not numerous in this field, are still favored in funding decisions. This can inhibit the work of French and international NGOs attempting to coordinate projects together and limits the ability to respond to needs in the field.[25] By changing this policy, France could have a presence in countries where no French agencies are operating but which are a high priority for the French government.

The total French contribution to mine action programs in 1999 was about US$2.74 million, including bilateral and multilateral programs, as well as its share of EU contributions to mine action.

Table 3. French involvement in mine action programs in 1999:
A. bilateral aid

Country
Amount in Francs
Beneficiary
Allocation
Kosovo
1 million ($160,000)
Handicap International
Mine Clearance
Senegal
1 million ($160,000)
Handicap International
Mine Awareness

B. multilateral aid

Country
Amount in Francs
Beneficiary
Allocation
Kosovo
600,000
($98,000)
International Trust Fund
Mine Clearance
2 million
($330,000)
UN Mine Action Service

Non evaluated
KFOR/demining activities
113 military personnel[26]
Croatia
1 million
($160,000)
CROMAC

Non Evaluated
WEU
Secondment of one person

Table 4. European Union funding of mine action 1998 and (provisional estimates) 1999

Year
1998 (amount in ECUs)
1999 (amount in Euros)
Mine action
15,782,423
11,179,476
General[27]
8,000,000
89,522
Research and development
8,370,000
8,550,095
Overall total
32,153,413
19,839,093
French share of the total
5,530,387
3,412,324
French share of EU contribution to mine action (excluding R&D)
4,090,576
1,938,268

[28]

But other sources indicate the difference: “In Kosovo, the French Armies do not participate directly to humanitarian demining but support mine action undertaken by NGOs or Governmental organisations, notably with mine awareness operation for local populations.... The mine awareness team is not trained nor qualified to execute neither operational demining nor any humanitarian demining missions.”[29] While the military plays a valuable role in this situation, their mandate is to secure the area under their responsibility. French forces do not have a mandate to respond to civilian requests for mine clearance. France provides some support for humanitarian demining through the secondment of qualified personnel to UN mine action centers for example, as it has in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, French NGOs (especially Handicap International, the only French organization implementing mine action programs) have asked the French government to be more involved in humanitarian demining, either through a broader funding policy or the secondment of deminers from the Civil Security to NGOs and international organizations.

Research and Development (R&D)

Significant funds have been invested since 1993 in the research and development of mine clearance technologies, mainly into countermine techniques with few possible applications for humanitarian demining.[30] The CNEMA has pointed out that minefield breaching does not correspond to today’s humanitarian mine clearance needs, and even the French Army has to buy mine clearance technology abroad. CNEMA also underlined the absence of dynamic French companies in this field, as compared with the United States, Germany and Sweden, as well as an apparent lack of understanding of the differences between demining for military and for civilian purposes.[31]

Research programs in France are mainly in the fields of mine-affected area identification, mine detection, mine clearance and management in the framework of military operations. Private companies involved include Thomson CSF and SAGEM for detection systems, Giat Industries, Matra Baé, DCN/ Saint Nicolas and ITS for demining systems. Different governmental bodies, mainly attached to the Ministry of Defense, also develop their own research, mainly the Etablissements Techniques de Bourges et d’Angers. For test purposes, a minefield will be set up in Bourges during 2000, under the supervision of the Armament General Directorate (DGA) of the Ministry of Defense.

Table 5. French investment (in millions of Francs) in research and development 1993-2003 (amounts for 2000 to 2003 are estimated)

Year
Detection
Clearance
Decoys
Counter-Mining
Total
(US$ million)*
1993-1998
36.4
2.3
2
5.5
46.2 ($8.385)
1998
1.4
0
0
0.4
1.8 ($0.305)
1999
22.5
1.9
0
1
25.4 ($4.127)
2000
26.2
7
5
4
42.2 ($6.432)
2001
25.2
4.6
6
0
35.8 ($5.457)
2002
8
3
4
0
15 ($2.286)
2003
0
4
15
0
19 ($2.896)

*dollar equivalents are calculated at the average for each time-period

In addition to this investment in R&D, the French Army has also been authorized by the Parliament to spend approximately FF 1,803 million on new detection and countermining systems between 2001 and 2015.[32]

Victim Assistance

Victim assistance does not appear to be a priority for the French government. No specific budget for victim assistance appears in information provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1999. There seems to be a confusion for the French government between what can be considered as direct and immediate assistance to a mine victim and what is required from States Parties as legal obligations under the MBT. In many written answers to Members of Parliament, the government explained at length its policy on the mine ban or mine clearance, but gave only a couple of lines to victim assistance.

In February 1999 Handicap International (HI), which is the major French NGO in the field of victim assistance, called on the government to become involved in comprehensive and long-term cooperation with other States Parties which are developing policies for support for work with the disabled, including mine victim assistance. HI also has begun to work on the rights of mine victims, as part of its continuing efforts (with other French NGOs) to promote the MBT and its full implementation by State Parties. In 1999 HI dedicated its campaign to the rights of the mine victims, culminating with the organization of a shoe pyramid and a day of national mobilization against landmines. The most recent event in September 1999 took place in 19 cities and was attended by over 40,000 people. On 1 March 2000, the second anniversary of the entry into force of the MBT, HI organized a postcard campaign to Members of Parliament, the Prime Minister and the President of the Republic to question the low level of France’s commitment to victim assistance and mine clearance, and ask the French government to lead the battle for the rights of mine victims. The official response was non-committal, and HI intends to develop this important issue in the coming months.

<DENMARK | GERMANY>

[1] Letter from Prime Minister Lionel Jospin to Handicap International, received 16 December 1999.
[2] Law n°98-564 of 8 July 1998 with the intent of eliminating antipersonnel mines, article 9: “A National Committee for the Elimination of Antipersonnel landmines shall be created, to be composed of Government representatives, two deputies and two senators, representatives from humanitarian organisations and representatives from corporate management and organised labor,” Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 587-588.
[3] Handicap International has expressed concern that given the fact that France completed destruction of its stockpiles of antipersonnel mines in 1999, it could play a major role in the SCE on stockpile destruction, but the Ministry of Defense has not made any concrete proposals to help other countries or play an active role in this important aspect of implementation of the treaty.
[4] Interview with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Paris, 9 May 2000.
[5] Letter from Jacques Chirac, President of the French Republic, to Philippe Chabasse, Director of Handicap International, 13 September 1999.
[6] Fax from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Handicap International, 25 February 2000.
[7] Interview with Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 9 May 2000.
[8] For details of types of mines produced and manufacturers, see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 590-596.
[9] Letter from Christian Lechervy, Ministry of Defense, 15 May 2000.
[10] Letters annexed to the CNEMA annual report: “1999 Annual Report,” Commission Nationale pour l’Elimination des Mines Antipersonnel, Section II, Chapter 5, (to be published in September 2000); available at the Documentation Française or from the CNEMA, 35 rue Saint Dominique, 75700 Paris.
[11] Belkacem Elomari and Bruno Barillot, Le Complexe Français de Production des Mines et Systèmes Associés, (Observatoire des Transferts d’Armements, 1997), p. 46.
[12] Human Rights Watch Fact Sheet, “Antivehicle Mines with Antihandling Devices,” Prepared for the First Meeting of the Standing Committee of Experts on the General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 10-11 January 2000, pp. 7-9.
[13] Letter from Christian Lechervy, Ministry of Defense, 15 May 2000.
[14] HRW, “Antivehicle Mines with Antihandling Devices,” 10-11 January 2000, pp. 7-9.
[15] Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 596-598. It had been indicated that France had exported AP mines to Rwanda in 1992, but a declassified document from the Interministerial Commission for the Study of War Matériel Exports indicated that on 16 April 1992 the Ministry of Defense authorized the export to Rwanda of 20,000 AP mines and 600 igniters. CNEMA has obtained documents which state that this export had been considered but vetoed by the International Relations Delegations of the General Directorate of Armament (Direction Générale de l’Armement) and by the Ministry of Defense. See: Paul Quilés, "Investigation of the Rwandan Tragedy (1990-1994),” National Assembly Report N° 1271, Volume 2, Appendices, 15 December 1998.
[16] Letter from Christian Lechervy, Ministry of Defense, 15 May 2000.
[17] “La France détruit ses dernières mines antipersonnel,” Ministry of Defense, press file 20 December 1999.
[18] Article 7 Report, 1 August 1999-31 March 2000.
[19] “1999 Annual Report,” CNEMA, to be released September 2000.
[20] Article 7 Report, 1 August 1999-31 March 2000.
[21] “1999 Annual Report,” CNEMA, to be released September 2000.
[22] Extract from speech by Minister of Defense, Parliamentary Debate, Official Journal of the French Republic, unabridged report of Parliamentary sessions of Thursday, 25 June 1998, pp. 5402-5403.
[23] Answer from Ministry of Defense to written question from Marie-Claude Beaudeau, n° 19132, 30 September 1999.
[24] Letter to ICBL from Hubert Védrine, Minister of Foreign Affairs, 15 October 1999.
[25] For example, this is the case with Handicap International, the Mines Advisory Group and Norwegian People’s Aid, which have set up a policy of cooperation and coordination of their efforts.
[26] Information given by the Ministry of Defense to the CNEMA, 15 March 2000.
[27] In 1998, “General” meant a contribution to the ICRC appeal for assistance to mine victims and mine awareness through funding from the Common Foreign and Security Policy. In 1999, it was a contribution from DGVIII to a study researched by HI-France on the use of mechanical devices in support of humanitarian demining operations.
[28] Answer from Ministry of Defense to written question from Marie-Claude Beaudeau, n° 19132, 30 September 1999.
[29] “La France détruit ses dernières mines antipersonnel,” Ministry of Defense, press file, 20 December 1999.
[30] “1999 Annual Report,” CNEMA, July 2000.
[31] Ibid.
[32] Ibid.