+   *    +     +     
About Us 
The Issues 
Our Research Products 
Order Publications 
Press Room 
Resources for Monitor Researchers 
Table of Contents
Country Reports
FALKLANDS/MALVINAS, Landmine Monitor Report 2002


The Falklands/Malvinas, administered by the United Kingdom but claimed by Argentina, have been a disputed territory since the nineteenth century. The islands’ landmine problem stems from the 1982 conflict, during which both parties laid thousands of antipersonnel and antitank mines, including remotely-delivered mines. Mined areas are located mainly at the beaches and in peat areas; these areas are for the most part, adequately marked and fenced.[1]

Both Argentina and the UK are States Parties to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and since the islands are under the authority of the United Kingdom, the U.K. is obliged, under Article 5 of the treaty, to clear the island territory of antipersonnel mines by 1 March 2009, ten years after the treaty entered into force.

The number of mines laid during the conflict and the number of minefields vary according to the source.[2] A March 2002 report to Landmine Monitor from the Ministry of Defence of the UK estimated that 18,000 mines were laid during the war, including 14,000 antipersonnel mines, and that Argentine forces laid a total of 127 minefields.[3] The UK cleared some 1,400 mines immediately following the conflict, but the clearance was suspended after several injuries to mine clearance personnel.[4] The UK reported in October 2001 that there were “117 minefields containing either anti-personnel, anti-vehicle mines or a combination of both.”[5] But in March 2002, the Foreign Office said there are 101 minefields.[6]

According to an Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, approximately 20,000 antipersonnel mines and 5,000 antitank mines were laid in the islands in 1982.[7]

The Falkland Islands government reports, “The 120 minefields...cover an area of 20 km2. They have all been fenced and are no-go areas.”[8] The main problem areas for landmines are Darwin, Port Fitzroy, Fox Bay, Goose Green, Port Howard, and especially around Port Stanley, while the beach at Yorke Bay is reported to be totally inaccessible.[9] According to a retired Argentine Admiral, Carlos Büsser, there are also minefields near Port Stanley that the UK laid during War World Two that were not cleared.[10]

Following three and a half years of negotiations, on 11 October 2001, Argentina and the UK and agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the establishment of a feasibility study on mine clearance in the islands.[11] A UK-Argentine Working Group was set up, and in November 2001 the MOU was jointly sent to the Secretary General of the United Nations, for distribution to the 56th Session of the General Assembly.[12]

The feasibility study will include three phases: a preliminary phase, the main study, and a final report that should include recommendations to both governments for future action according to the obligations of the Mine Ban Treaty.[13] According to the MOU, the costs of the feasibility study will be shared by both parties, in direct proportion to the number of mines laid by each party during the 1982 conflict. Thus, Argentina will be responsible for most of the financial costs, while it is expected that the UK will take care of technical aspects of the study. Total costs of the feasibility study are estimated at $2 million; in 2002, Argentina budgeted $1 million for the study.[14]

The joint Working Group met for the first time in Buenos Aires on 3-4 December 2001.[15] According to the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the three phases of the feasibility study should take 18 months; no start date had been set as of March 2002.[16]

In early March 2002, the UK’s Secretary of State for Defence, Geoffrey Hoon, met with the Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carlos Ruckauf, and Minister of Defense, Horacio Jaunarena, in Buenos Aires and, according to a media report, discussed the agreement to carry out the feasibility study. Hoon stated, “We very much welcome the agreement in principle. What we need to explore now are the practical ways in which it can be implemented. I do not believe that there are any stumbling blocks, it is a question of finding practical ways to implement the policy which we have agreed upon.”[17] The UK also made a contribution of $19,000 to CAECOPAZ (Argentine Center for Training in Peace Operations) for humanitarian demining training.[18]

An Explosive Ordnance Disposal Operation Center in Port Stanley provides warnings about the landmine danger to the islands’ communities and visitors. Full details of warning measures are included in the Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report submitted by the UK in March 2002.[19]

No mine casualties were reported in the Falklands/Malvinas in 2001 or the first half of 2002.


[1] See Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 423.
[2] Four types of antipersonnel mines were used in the conflict: No.4 (Israel); SB-33 (Italy); FMK-1 plastic blast mine (Argentina); and P-4-B (Spain). See Landmine Monitor Report 2000, p. 367.
[3] Fax from Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK, 20 March 2002.
[4] Ibid.
[5] UK, Convention on Conventional Weapons Amended Protocol II Article 13 report, Form B, October 2001.
[6] Fax to Landmine Monitor (UK) from United Nations Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK, 20 March 2002.
[7] Landmine Monitor (Argentina) interview with Guillermo Rossi, Directorate of Malvinas and South Atlantic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Buenos Aires, 10 April 2002.
[8] “Diplomatic Issues,” Falkland Islands Government, available at www.falklands.gov.fk, accessed on 5 May 2002.
[9] Alejandra Conti, “Malvinas: there are minefields,” La Nación, 17 June 1999, p. 4.
[10] Admiral (Ret.) Carlos Büsser, “Malvinas, hoy: la visita del ministro de defensa Británico y el desminado de las Malvinas,” Cuadernos, No.4, Buenos Aires, undated.
[11] Interview with Guillermo Rossi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 April 2002.
[12] See “Acuerdo con Gran Bretaña para desminar las Malvinas,” 12 October 2001. At
[13] Ibid.
[14] Interview with Guillermo Rossi, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 10 April 2002; see also, “Desminado binacional en Malvinas,” Página 12 (Buenos Aires), 12 October 2001.
[15] Response to Landmine Monitor questionnaire by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina, 4 April 2002. See Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Comercio Internacional y Culto, Comunicado de Prensa No. 316/2001, “Reunión entre la Argentina y el Reino Unido sobre el desminado en las Islas Malvinas,” 5 December 2001. http:// www.mrecic.gov.ar/ministerio/prensa/316dic05.html.
[16] Fax from Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK, 20 March 2002.
[17] Mercopress News Agency, 14 March 2002.
[18] “British Minister of Defense arrived and talked of ‘reconciliation’,” Clarín (Buenos Aires), 15 March 2002.
[19] UK, Article 7 Report, Form I, submitted on 21 March 2002 for calendar year 2001.