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


Key developments since March 1999: Stockpile destruction is underway.

Mine Ban Policy

Uruguay signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 but has not yet ratified. While ratification legislation was sent to the Congress on 4 September 1998, it was not passed before the change in government on 1 March 2000.[1] According to a Foreign Ministry official, the ratification legislation needs to be reintroduced to the new Congress, and the Foreign Ministry intends to do so.[2] In a letter to the ICBL dated 26 June 2000, Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Opertti said, “I would like to inform you that in my recent meeting with the Members of the International Relations Committee of the Congress I strongly urged them to speed up the ratification process of the Convention. After perceiving a positive response I feel encouraged to believe that the process will be soon finished.”[3] He also stated, “I share the view that ratification by all signatory states is critical and that this historic movement to eradicate this indiscriminate weapon needs the strong support not only of all Governments involved but the International Community as a whole.”

Uruguay did not participate in the First Meeting of State Parties held in Maputo in May 1999 and has not attended any of the intersessional meetings of the treaty.

Uruguay voted for the December 1999 UN General Assembly Resolution 54/54 B supporting the Mine Ban Treaty, as it had for similar resolutions in 1997 and 1998. In a speech to the UN, Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Opertti said the Mine Ban Treaty’s entry into force was “an auspicious sign” along the road toward the creation of a “culture for peace.”[4]

Uruguay supported the OAS resolution on Support for the Mine Clearance Program in Central America (AG/RES.164) on 7 June 1999 and the OAS resolution on The Western Hemisphere as an Antipersonnel Landmine Free Zone (AG/RES.1644) on the same date.[5]

Uruguay ratified Amended Protocol II (Landmines) of the Convention on Conventional Weapons on 18 August 1998. It participated in the December 1999 First Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II, but has not yet submitted its transparency report as required under Article 13 of the protocol.

Production, Transfer, Use

According to the Army, Uruguay has never produced or exported antipersonnel mines.[6] It has imported AP mines from Belgium. It does not appear that Uruguay has used antipersonnel mines in combat operations or for border defense.


In November 1997 former Defense Minister Raul Iturria revealed that the Armed Forces had a total of 2,338 antipersonnel mines (1,604 Belgian M-35 mines and 734 Belgian NR-409 mines) as well as 1,377 antitank mines.[7] Attempts to obtain updated information have been unsuccessful.[8] The Army has stated that Uruguay does not have Claymore mines nor does it have antitank mines fitted with antihandling devices.[9]

Regarding stockpile destruction, the Army told Landmine Monitor in February 1999 that all AP mines had been collected and stored in a depot, and that the NR-409 mines would be destroyed in 1999. Only inert mines would be used for training.[10] In May 2000, Minister of Defense Luis Brezzo told Landmine Monitor, “To date some mines have been destroyed in select military sites, taking into account people’s safety and environmental protection.” Minister Brezzo added, “It is not possible to be more explicit at this moment, while ratification of the Treaty is in process.” [11]

Mine Action

Since 1992 the Army has contributed US$24,000 to international humanitarian mine action. Armed Forces personnel have participated in United Nations peacekeeping and mine action programs in Angola, Cambodia and Mozambique, as well as with the Organization of American States (OAS) program in Nicaragua.[12]

The Uruguayan Institute for Development (UID) is reported to have signed a Letter of Intent with the government of Nicaragua to implement a humanitarian demining project in that country.[13] According to retired Captain Fernando Poladura, a staff member of UID, the project would demine a hydroelectric dam that could supply electrical energy to three nearby towns as well as a large area of Nicaragua’s Atlantic coast.[14]

UID states that it has also developed a project with the Uruguayan company Mundo Seguro S.A. and the Millennium Foundation of Cape Town, South Africa, to provide demining activities and assistance to mine victims, and to foster development in mine-affected countries.[15] UID has received unspecified support from the Ministry of Education of Uruguay through a resolution dated 2 November 1999, for a planned prosthesis center.[16] According to a staff member, the Institute also has the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which asked Uruguayan diplomats to promote it overseas.[17]

Landmine Problem

Uruguay is not mine-affected. There have been a few Uruguayan landmine casualties, mostly from military and peacekeeping operations. UID’s retired Captain Poladura lost his right leg while participating in mine clearance in Angola in June 1996.[18]


[1] The same political coalition returned to power, headed by President Jorge Batlle, and with the same Foreign Minister, Didier Opertti.
[2] Interview with Gerardo Pratto, Department of Special Issues, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 21 February 2000.
[3] Letter from Didier Opertti, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Elizabeth Bernstein, ICBL Coordinator, 26 June 2000.
[4] Statement by Didier Opertti, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to the UN General Assembly 54th Session. See: http/www/un.int/uruguay/e54.html.
[5] Response dated 28 March 2000 by Ambassador Carlos Clulow, Deputy General for International Political Issues, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Landmine Monitor questionnaire 1999.
[6] National Army Response to Landmine Monitor questionnaire, February 1999.
[7] Letter dated 19 November 1997 from Defense Minister Raul Iturria to National Deputy Gabriel Barandiaran. Landmine Monitor has a copy of the letter.
[8] Telephone interview with the Director, Ministry of Defense, 12 May 2000. The Director claimed no knowledge of the National Army response to the Landmine Monitor questionnaire of February 1999.
[9] National Army Response to Landmine Monitor questionnaire, February 1999.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Letter from Luis Brezzo, Minister of Defense, to Landmine Monitor, 12 May 2000.
[12] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 311.
[13] Letter from Luis Brezzo, Minister of Defense, to Landmine Monitor, 12 May 2000.
[14] Email from retired Captain Fernando Poladura of UID to Landmine Monitor Researcher, 8 May 2000.
[15] Promotional material of the Uruguayan Institute for Development, undated. UID’s website is: http//www.freez.com/landmines.
[16] Response by Ambassador Carlos Clulow, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to Landmine Monitor questionnaire, 28 March 2000.
[17] Email from Captain Poladura to Landmine Monitor Researcher, 8 May 2000.
[18] Interview with Captain Fernando Poladura, Montevideo, 12 November 1998.