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Belgium, Landmine Monitor Report 2003


Key developments since May 2002: Belgium continued to play a key role in promoting universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. Belgian Ambassador Jean Lint served as President of the Fourth Meeting of States Parties and Chair of the Coordinating Committee from September 2002 to September 2003. Belgium also served as co-chair of the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance from September 2002 to September 2003. On 12-13 November 2002, Belgium hosted a seminar in Brussels for African countries on transparency reporting under Article 7 of the treaty. Belgium contributed €4.7 million (US$4.5 million) to mine action in 2002, including research and development, a significant increase from 2001.

Mine Ban Policy

Belgium signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified it on 4 September 1998, becoming a State Party on 1 March 1999.

Production of antipersonnel mines ceased in 1990 and transfer was prohibited in 1993. In 1995, Belgium became the first country to enact national legislation banning antipersonnel mines. Stockpile destruction was completed in September 1997.

Ambassador Jean Lint, Belgium’s Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, was President of the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002, and then served as chair of the Coordinating Committee from September 2002 to September 2003, playing a key role in ensuring the success of the intersessional work program. The President’s Action Program was issued at the Fourth Meeting of States Parties, focusing on the Mine Ban Treaty’s core humanitarian objectives.[1] Princess Astrid of Belgium was present at the Fourth Meeting of States Parties.

Ambassador Marc Baptist from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented a review of Belgium’s efforts to ensure the universalization and full implementation of the treaty, noting that Belgium had carried out 14 démarches to encourage States to become party to the treaty; these included new members of the European Union (EU).[2]

The Interdepartmental Working Group, which brings together the different ministries and other key actors, has itself launched several démarches to Belgian embassies abroad, including future EU member states, Turkey, and a number of Central African countries.[3] In addition to being an active member of the treaty’s Universalization and Resource Mobilization contact groups, Belgium chairs the contact group on Article 7 transparency reporting and Article 9 national implementation measures.

Belgium served as co-chair of the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies from September 2002 to September 2003, and participated fully in the Standing Committee meetings in February and May 2003. Ambassador Lint introduced the concept of having mine-affected States Parties report on their “4Ps” (Problems, Plans, Progress and Priorities), which contributed greatly to more substantive and focused presentations at the February and May intersessional meetings. The “4P” approach was also used successfully by mine-affected States Parties in the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance and Socio-Economic Reintegration.

Belgium’s annual Article 7 transparency report for calendar year 2002 was submitted on 30 April 2003. The report, which is Belgium’s sixth, includes the voluntary Form J, giving details of mine action funding.[4]

On 16 October 2002, Ambassador Lint introduced on behalf of Belgium, Nicaragua, and Thailand (past, present and future Presidents of Meetings of States Parties), the draft UN General Assembly resolution in support of universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. He applauded the spirit of openness and cooperation between mine-affected and non-mine-affected States and NGOs in working toward achievement of the treaty’s humanitarian objectives.[5] Belgium subsequently voted in favor of UNGA Resolution 57/74 on 22 November 2002.

On 20 March 2003, in the Conference on Disarmament, Ambassador Lint, in reference to the conflict in Iraq, expressed his confidence that States Parties would respect their commitments to the Mine Ban Treaty. He appealed to non-States Parties to respect the international norm created by the treaty and refrain from using antipersonnel mines, in view of their disastrous humanitarian consequences.[6]

Belgium is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Amended Protocol II, and attended the Fourth Annual Conference of States Parties to the protocol in December 2002. An annual report was submitted in accordance with Article 13 of the protocol on 12 December 2002, covering the period 15 October 2001-15 October 2002.

Belgium submitted its annual report on landmines to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on 9 December 2002. This summarizes Belgium’s involvement in the mine ban process.

On 12-13 November 2002, Belgium hosted a seminar in Brussels for African countries on transparency reporting under Article 7 of the Mine Ban Treaty. The seminar was opened by the Foreign Minister and Vice Prime Minister Louis Michel, who expressed Belgium’s commitment to Africa, in particular the Great Lakes region.[7] Presentations to the seminar were made by Angola, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Congo-Brazzaville, Rwanda, Tanzania, and the Francophonie. Also present were Austria, Belgium (including the Royal Military Academy), Canada, Denmark, the European Commission, the Netherlands, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), ICBL, Handicap International Belgium, and a number of other NGOs.

Ambassador Lint, in his capacity as President of the Fourth Meeting of States Parties, was invited throughout the year to international conferences focused on the Mine Ban Treaty and the problem of antipersonnel mines.

On 4-5 November 2002, Ambassador Lint attended a regional conference in Moscow for the Commonwealth of Independent States countries, hosted by the ICRC, on Landmines and Explosive Remnants of War, where he chaired various portions of the conference. From 29 November to 1 December 2002, Ambassador Lint attended the Symposium on the Fifth Anniversary of the Mine Ban Convention organized in Ottawa by the Canadian government. In his speech, he highlighted the reasons for the success of the Mine Ban Treaty and the Ottawa process, emphasizing the importance of the work of ICBL and ICRC and the role of the public conscience.

On 1 March 2003, Ambassador Lint spoke at the Warsaw conference, “Landmines–The Deadly Legacy,” which was organized by the Polish Red Cross. He encouraged Poland to ratify the treaty, and was “optimistic that Poland will soon join the rest of Europe, and most of the rest of the world...and that the call made by citizens and civil society organizations...will be listened to and acted upon.”[8] On 26 April 2003, Ambassador Lint spoke at the first ever landmines conference to be held in Turkey, “Antipersonnel Mines in Turkey and Worldwide”, which was organized by two Turkish NGOs. Ambassador Lint also attended conferences in Cambodia and Peru promoting the universalization and full implementation of the Convention.

Ambassador Lint held Presidential Consultations with all relevant actors on 31 January and 12 May 2003 to prepare the preparatory work for the first Review Conference, the results of which will be presented for decisions by the States Parties at the Fifth Meeting of States Parties in Bangkok, Thailand in September 2003.

Joint military operations and “assist”

At the Standing Committee meetings in February 2003, Belgium strongly reiterated its policy whereby in joint military operations with States not party to the treaty, Belgian forces are bound by national legislation prohibiting any action that would lead to the use of antipersonnel mines. This was described as being a stricter prohibition than is contained in the Mine Ban Treaty.[9]


A source within the Ministry of Defense has confirmed to Landmine Monitor that Belgium does not possess Claymore-type directional fragmentation devices.[10]

Mines retained under Article 3

Belgium originally retained 6,240 antipersonnel mines (Type MB 35 Bg) for purposes permitted by Mine Ban Treaty Article 3. This quantity has since been reduced each year. The most recent Article 7 report noted consumption of 293 mines for training purposes in 2002, with 4,806 mines remaining.[11] Belgium reported that 158 mines were used at the Engineer School to educate Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel and to train combat units in mine awareness; 135 mines were used in Engineer Combat Units to train deminers.[12]

At the Standing Committee meetings in May 2003, Belgium supported the view that “the minimum number of mines absolutely necessary” should be in the hundreds or thousands, not tens of thousands. Belgium also urged that States Parties report fully on the purposes for which retained mines are used, as Belgium does itself.[13]

Antivehicle Mines with Sensitive Fuzes and Antihandling Devices

In May 2002, Belgium stated that the army had concluded that all its types of antivehicle mines are “in compliance with both the spirit and letter” of the treaty.[14] In the CCW context, Belgium has not provided data on antivehicle mines with sensitive fuzes for the information-sharing initiative of Germany, as its antivehicle mines were produced abroad and it believes that the producers would be better placed to submit the information.[15]

Mine Action Assistance

In its most recent Article 7 report, Belgium notes that sustaining the funding of mine action at adequate levels will be one of the challenges of coming years. The needs of mine-affected countries exceed resources available: “At a minimum mine affected countries and the donor community should ensure that available resources are used in a best possible manner. This in itself will however not suffice.” Donor countries will have to identify innovative resource generation and address the issue of priorities. Mine-affected countries should also mobilize domestic resources.[16]

During 2002, Belgium acted as president of the Mine Action Support Group, during which field trips were undertaken to Afghanistan, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and South Africa.

Belgium’s funding for mine action increased substantially in 2002. Belgium reports that in 2002 it contributed €3,655,533 to mine action.[17] Landmine Monitor identified an additional €174,572 in funding to the ICBL, HI Belgium and UN Voluntary Trust Fund, and an additional €908,000 spent on research and development on mine detection and clearance technologies, bring the total to €4,738,105 (US$4.5 million).

In 2001, Belgium provided €2,115,445 in mine action funding, plus €1,536,061 for research and development.

Belgium describes its priorities as Afghanistan, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Laos and, thematically, mine clearance, victim assistance and technology transfer. The government has provided the following information:[18]

  • Afghanistan - €587,615 ($558,234), comprising €362,615 to HIB for unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance and capacity building, and €225,000 to UNMAS for a database system;
  • Cambodia – €399,216 ($379,255) to the Ministry of Defense for technical assistance to the mine action center’s demining operations;
  • Laos – €562,135 ($534,028) to the Ministry of Defense for four demining and quality assurance advisors, for the mine action center’s demining operations in Champassak;
  • Democratic Republic of Congo – €1.5 million ($1.425 million) to HI Belgium for technical assistance in demining and mine risk education;
  • Research and Development – €598,652 ($568,719) to the APOPO project; and
  • Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining – €9,915 ($9,419) for the Implementation Support Unit.

In addition, Landmine Monitor has identified the following Belgian governmental funding of mine action in 2002:

  • Afghanistan - €22,634 ($21,502) via the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action;[19]
  • HI Belgium - €102,360 ($97,242) for advocacy and public awareness work; and
  • ICBL - €49,578 ($47,099) for the Landmine Monitor.

Additional funding for research and development in 2002 included: €744,000 ($706,800) for the HUDEM project; €90,000 ($85,500) for the PARADIS project; and €74,000 ($70,300) for the International Test and Evaluation Program. These funds came from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense, including in-kind assistance.[20]

Regarding assistance to mine victims, Belgium reports that in 2001 about 34 percent of its mine action funding was allocated to victim assistance programs.[21] Equivalent data is not reported for 2002. Several Belgian projects involving support to persons with disability may be expected to include mine victims, although this cannot be quantified:

  • Burundi - €95,191 ($90,431) to HI Belgium for assistance to the disabled;
  • Cambodia - €214,180 ($203,471) to HI Belgium for physical rehabilitation and economic reintegration;
  • Colombia - €23,798 ($22,608) via HI Belgium as structural support to the Rei Foundation.[22]

NGO Activity

HI Belgium launched the Landmine Monitor Report 2002 at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on 13 September 2002 with a presentation of the major findings. On 16 October 2002, Landmine Monitor and HI Belgium briefed the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) on the major findings of the report, also at NATO Headquarters. All 46 EAPC countries were represented at the meeting, which was chaired by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson.

On 1 March 2003, to celebrate the anniversary of entry into force of the Mine Ban Treaty, HI Belgium visited the Brussels embassies of several non-party States, including Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Serbia and Montenegro, Turkey, and the US. Lithuania has since ratified the treaty. Tajikistan was also visited, as it had not submitted its Article 7 report.

HI Belgium participated in the Third World Market in Brasschaat on 13-18 January 2003. Some 2,000 students attended the workshops, and HI Belgium explained the importance of continued support for mine victims, distributing the blue laces, its symbol of solidarity with mine victims. On 21 and 27 February 2003, HI Belgium carried out school education and fundraising events in Antwerp.

Landmine/UXO Problem and Casualties

On 27 July 2003, an antitank mine from World War II was found on the beach in Blankenberge. Deminers said it still contained explosives.[23]

In 2002, the explosive ordnance disposal unit SEDEE-DOVO received 3,229 reports of unexploded ordnance, and collected 291 tons of UXO.[24]

On 19 December 2002, a local deminer working for HI Belgium near Kisangani in the Democratic Republic of Congo was injured by a mine.[25]

[1] “President’s Action Program,” Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 16-20 September 2002.
[2] Statement of Belgium, Fourth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 16-20 September 2002.
[3] Email from Paul Huynen, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 13 June 2002.
[4] See Article 7 Report s submitted on: 30 April 2003 (for calendar year 2002), 30 April 2002 (for calendar year 2001), 30 April 2001 (for calendar year 2000), 27 April 2000 (for calendar year 1999), 15 August 1999 (for the period 1 May-15 August 1999) and 2 May 1999 (for the period 3 December 1997-30 April 1999).
[5] “Statement on Resolution entitled ‘Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction’,” First Committee, United Nations General Assembly, New York, 16 October 2002.
[6] “President of Fourth Meeting of States Parties to Mine-Ban Treaty Urges States to Respect the Mine Ban during Conflicts,” Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, 20 March 2003.
[7] “Mot d’introduction de Monsieur Louis Michel,” Seminar on the Application of the Ottawa Convention’s Article 7 in Africa, Brussels 12-13 November; Landmine Monitor notes.
[8] Statement by Ambassador Lint of Belgium, “Landmines–deadly legacy, 5 Years After Adoption of the Ottawa Treaty,” Warsaw, 1 March 2003.
[9] Statement by Belgium, Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 7 February 2003. (Landmine Monitor notes.)
[10] Interview with Ministry of Defense official, Geneva, 13 May 2003.
[11] Article 7 Report, Form D, 30 April 2003.
[12] Article 7 Report, Form G, 30 April 2003.
[13] Statement by Belgium, Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention, Geneva, 16 May 2003. (Landmine Monitor notes.)
[14] Ibid., 31 May 2002. (Landmine Monitor notes.)
[15] Ibid., 7 February 2003. (Landmine Monitor notes.)
[16] Article 7 Report, Form J, 30 April 2003; Response to the Landmine Monitor Questionnaire, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 4 April 2003. For mine action funding policy, see Landmine Monitor Report 2001, p. 617.
[17] Information provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Article 7 Report, Form J, 30 April 2003. Exchange rate: €1 = US$0.95, used throughout the report. Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 6 January 2003.
[18] Article 7 Report, Form J, 30 April 2003.
[19] Mine Action Support Group, “UNMAS Update” in “Newsletter: December 2002,” p. 10.
[20] Response to the Landmine Monitor Questionnaire, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 4 April 2003. For a description of these research and development projects, see Landmine Monitor Report 2001, pp. 619-620, and Landmine Monitor Report 2002, pp. 109-110.
[21] Article 7 Report, Form J, 30 April 2003; Response to the Landmine Monitor Questionnaire, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (undated).
[22] HI Belgium, “Plan d’action 2002. Lutte contre le handicap dans les pays en développement,” September 2001.
[23] “Une mine pres de l’estacade de Blankenberghe,” Belga Press Agency (Le Soir), 27 July 2003.
[24] Telephone conversation with Adjudant Francois De Coster, SEDEE-DOVO, 3 June 2003.
[25] Email from Simon Bokongo, Landmine Monitor researcher for the Democratic Republic of Congo, 22 December 2002.