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Country Reports
MONGOLIA, Landmine Monitor Report 2001
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Key developments since May 2000: Ministry of Defense officials acknowledge the existence of significant stockpiles of antipersonnel mines. A government-sponsored conference on landmines was held on 27-28 June 2001.

Mine Ban Policy

Mongolia has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty. Mongolia states that it “pursues a step-by-step approach towards the prohibition of APL use, stockpiling and their destruction,” but “fully supports the articles of the [Mine Ban Treaty] which prohibit the production and transfer of the APLs.”[1] Elements of this step-by-step approach include “research and training on the complex issues of landmine relevance,” “studying the external factors, especially the developments in the external security environment surrounding Mongolia,” and “research on technology needs and device assessment” including “creating a technology base for landmines destruction.”[2]

Mongolia did not attend the Second Meeting of States Parties (SMSP) to the Mine Ban Treaty in September 2000. However, Mongolia’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador S. Bold, did attend a meeting organized in parallel to the SMSP.[3] This meeting aimed to provide an occasion of dialogue between Mongolian and Canadian representatives on the eventual accession of Mongolia to the Mine Ban Treaty and to identify possible areas of co-operation between the two countries that could facilitate the accession process. Mongolia did not participate in the Mine Ban Treaty intersessional Standing Committee meetings in December 2000 or May 2001. Mongolia voted in favor of the November 2000 UN General Assembly resolution supporting the Mine Ban Treaty.

Mongolia is a State Party to the original Protocol II on landmines of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), but it has not yet ratified the 1996 Amended Protocol II. Mongolia supported UNGA Resolution 55/37 on the CCW and its Protocols.[4]

In June 2000, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs N. Tuya, proposed to the Ministry of Defense that Mongolia ratify Amended Protocol II to the CCW in 2001, and accede to the Mine Ban Treaty in the second half of 2003, before the first review conference in 2004.[5] The delay in signing the Mine Ban Treaty to 2003 would allow, according to the proposal, time for Mongolia to find alternative national security modalities.

The Ministry of Defense has maintained that accession to the Mine Ban Treaty cannot be contemplated at present, or by 2003.[6] Officials cite the following factors: Mongolia’s long borders, small population, and small armed forces; financial constraints regarding alternative weapons and stockpile destruction; belief in the efficiency of landmines; and, the fact that neither of its neighbors, Russia and China, have renounced landmines.[7]

Thus far, discussions on landmine issues involve exclusively officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense, and the Mongolian Armed Forced Headquarters. A member of the Ikh Khural’s (Parliament’s) Standing Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, and an advisor to the same committee, confirm that antipersonnel mine and Mine Ban Treaty issues remain completely outside legislative consideration at present.[8] However, it is hoped that the dissemination of a series of documents related to the Mine Ban Treaty and its implementation, translated into Mongol under the coordination of the Landmine Monitor researchers,[9] will serve to increase awareness of the landmine issue.

On 27-28 June 2001, the government of Mongolia, with the support of Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Landmine Monitor Research team in Mongolia, organized a two-day "Sharing our Future in a Mine Free World" Conference. Participants included representatives of Mongolia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Institute of Strategic Studies, and Ministry of Environment, as well as experts from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense, Canada's Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry, the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining, various UN agencies, and NGOs. The objective was to encourage among Mongolian officials an in-depth analysis of the content, purposes and scope of the Mine Ban Treaty. The Conference provided an opportunity for Mongolian decision-makers to share views on the Mine Ban Treaty and the eventual accession of the country to the treaty. It helped to raise awareness of landmine issues, particularly military issues, in Mongolia, and served as a launch to the mine awareness dissemination process throughout Mongolian society. The conference received significant media attention. As pointed out by the Mongolian Chair of the meeting in his closing remarks, the Conference can only help to accelerate Mongolia's ascension to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, Use

Mongolia has not and does not produce or transfer antipersonnel mines. There is no specific domestic regulation prohibiting production, import, export, or transportation of antipersonnel mines through Mongolian territory.[10]

In its 1999 report, Landmine Monitor indicated it was unknown if Mongolia had a stockpile of antipersonnel mines, and in its 2000 report Landmine Monitor indicated that officials had confirmed the existence of a stockpile, but there remained conflicting reports on whether it was a small stockpile for training purposes, or a significant operational stockpile. Mongolian defense officials have now made it clear that Mongolia has a substantial stockpile of antipersonnel mines.

While the number of antipersonnel mines in stockpile is confidential, the Engineering Department of the Ministry of Defense suggests that Mongolia has a sufficient number to at least partially cover its expansive borders.[11] Mongolia has revealed that it has eleven types of antitank and antipersonnel mines, all purchased from the former USSR between 1960 and 1985; 73.2% of the total number of landmines are antipersonnel.[12] The mines include models PMN, OZM-3, and POMZ.[13]

Defense officials state that Mongolia has never deployed and will never deploy antipersonnel mines on its territory except for self-defense purposes, and that in the event of armed conflict, landmines would be used to protect borders and strategic state assets. The officials note that mines are already available in the Mongolian arsenals and everyone who has received a minimum training (3-4 hours) can plant them in a reasonable time span.

Landmine/UXO Problem, Survey, Clearance, Casualties

Despite contradictory information provided last year to Landmine Monitor,[14] Ministry of Defense officials now state that a joint United States-Mongolian landmine survey took place in 1998 and that the US Defense Department team and its Mongolian counterpart concluded definitively that Mongolia is not a mine-affected country, though other UXO are present.[15]

Ministry of Defense officials have told Landmine Monitor that eighteen areas in the country contain UXO resulting from World War II and the presence of the former Soviet Army bases in Mongolia between 1960 and 1992.[16] According to Colonel Gantumur, Head of the Ministry of Defense’s Engineering Department, the military carried out some clearance operations in the area of Khalhyn Gol[17] after the Second World War and at some former Soviet Army bases.

However, financial and technical capacity constraints precluded a completion of clearance operations, and continue to impede UXO clearance operations to this day. Only partial clearance has been completed in the eighteen UXO-affected areas.[18] No signs or fences demarcating contaminated areas have been placed to protect local residents and animals. On 5 July 2000, the Ministry of Defense introduced Resolution 460, which included measures in support of UXO clearance operations. The Parliament did not approve the resolution due to a lack of state budget resources.[19]

UXO casualties are reported annually. On average three individuals (both military and civilian personnel) each year suffer UXO-related injuries. The Engineering Department’s responsibilities do not include victim assistance, only registration of the number, location and cause of accidents. From time to time an incident response team provides limited technical assistance to specific requests.[20]

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[1] Handout provided by Col. Gantumur Lhagva at meeting between Mongolian delegation, Canada’s DFAIT Mine Action Team, and the NGO Mines Action Canada, Ottawa, 17 May 2001.
[2] Ibid.
[3] The meeting held in Geneva on 14 September 2000 involved the following people: Lt. Gen. Gordon Reay, Canadian Advisor for Landmine Action; Tammy Hall, Program Coordinator and Paul Hannon, Mines Action Canada, Mr. G. Jargalsiakhan, First Secretary, Embassy of Mongolia in Geneva and Ms. Tungalag Johnstone, Landmine Monitor/Mongolia Researcher.
[4] United Nations General Assembly, First Committee, Press Release GA/DIS/3185, 20 October 2000.
[5] Former Minister Tuya’s proposal was summarized for Landmine Monitor during an interview with Mr. Munkhou, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ulaanbaatar, 5 September 2000 and again during an interview with Mr. S. Bold, Legal and Consular Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ulaanbaatar, 2 February 2001.
[6] Interview with Colonel Gantumur, Head of Engineering Department, Ministry of Defense, Ulaanbaatar, 26 January 2001.
[7] See for example, Handout provided by Col. Gantumur Lhagva at meeting between Mongolian delegation, Canada’s DFAIT Mine Action Team, and the NGO Mines Action Canada, Ottawa, 17 May 2001.
[8] Telephone interviews with Ms. S. Oyun, Member of Parliament, Member of National Security Committee, and Mr. Batdelger, Consultant to the National Security Committee, Ulaanbaatar, 6 February 2001.
[9] The series includes a Mongolian version of the Mine Ban Treaty, the Mongolia Research Paper 2000 and other relevant documents now available in Mongolian language thanks to Landmine Monitor/Norwegian People’s Aid.
[10] Interview with Mr. S. Bold, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ulaanbaatar, 7 February 2001. Interview with Ms. Ouyndar, Head of Department of Foreign Relations, Ministry of Environment, Ulaanbaatar, 6 February 2001.
[11] Interview with Colonel Gantumuur, Ministry of Defense, Ulaanbaatar, 26 January 2001.
[12] Handout provided by Col. Gantumur Lhagva at meeting between Mongolian delegation, Canada’s DFAIT Mine Action Team, and the NGO Mines Action Canada, Ottawa, 17 May 2001. The mines were described as two types: fougasse and fragmentation APLs.
[13] Interview with Colonel Gantumur, Ministry of Defense, Ulaanbaatar, 26 January 2001.
[14] Landmine Monitor Report 2000. p. 517.
[15] Interview with Colonel Gantumur, Ministry of Defense, Ulaanbaatar, 26 January 2001. Letter from Mark W. Willis, Charge d’Affaires, a.i., American Embassy, 14 April 2000: “The reason the US government sent a landmine survey team to Ulaanbaatar last summer (1999) was that the issue had never been raised in Mongolia before. As you may recall, the government of Mongolia informed our survey team that landmines did not pose a significant problem in Mongolia, although there was some concern about UXO, which was outside the mandate of our survey team.”
[16] Interview with Colonel Gantumur, Ministry of Defense, Ulaanbaatar, 26 January 2001.
[17] 1939 Japanese invasion of eastern Mongolia.
[18] Rows of antivehicle mines were abandoned, often mixed with other small and medium-sized military waste on former Russian troops’ installations. However, there is no evidence confirming the presence of antipersonnel mines among the debris. Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 517.
[19] Interview with R. Bold, Secretary General, National Security Council, 15 February 2001. Parliament advised the Ministry of Defense to seek funding from the donor community.
[20] Interview with Colonel Gantumur, Ministry of Defense, Ulaanbaatar, 26 January 2001. Landmine Monitor/Mongolia researchers have not been provided with registration records.