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Landmines and Cluster Bombs: An Enduring Problem. Brief History of Landmines. 14 th century Chinese text, the Huolongjing, describes a mine made of bamboo, black powder, and lead pellets. It was placed underground. Detonated by a flint device that directed sparks onto a series of fuses.

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Landmines and Cluster Bombs: An Enduring Problem

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Landmines and cluster bombs an enduring problem

Landmines and Cluster Bombs:An Enduring Problem

Brief history of landmines

Brief History of Landmines

  • 14th century Chinese text, the Huolongjing, describes a mine made of bamboo, black powder, and lead pellets. It was placed underground.

  • Detonated by a flint device that directed sparks onto a series of fuses

Brief history of landmines1

Brief History of Landmines

  • In 1500s, fougasse mines were developed.

  • Buried explosives, covered with rocks or metal

  • Detonated by tripwires or by long fuses

  • High maintenance, and due to susceptibility of black powder to dampness.

Brief history of landmines2

Brief History of Landmines

  • First modern, mechanically detonated anti-personnel mines created by Confederate troops under Brigadier General Gabriel Raines

  • Raines had begun working with explosive booby traps in the Seminole Wars in Florida in 1849

  • Used more reliable and reproducible mechanical detonation devices

Brief history of landmines3

Brief History of Landmines

  • Improved mines were designed in Imperial Germany around 1912

  • Designs were copied and manufactured by all major participants in the First World War

Brief history of landmines4

Brief History of Landmines

  • Antipersonnel mines were first used on a large scale in WWII

  • Initially used to protect antitank mines, to stop them from being removed by enemy soldiers

  • Later antipersonnel mines used to slow or halt enemy movement, by being placed in great numbers



  • Triggered by a variety of means (pressure, vibration, movement, magnetism)

  • Many have an additional touch or tilt trigger, to prevent enemy engineers from defusing it.



  • Use as little metal as possible, to make location by metal detectors more difficult.

  • Mines made mostly from plastic are also very cheap to produce



  • Wide variety of designs

  • Makes detection and disarming very difficult



  • Claymores



  • Claymores

  • Stake mines



  • Claymores

  • Stake mines

  • Bounding fragmentation mines



  • Often deliberately designed to maim, rather than kill

  • Stabilizing and evacuating an injured soldier hampers an actively fighting force

  • More resources are taking up by caring for an injured solder than dealing with a dead soldier

  • Cheap and easy to make, around $1 each

    (can cost more than $1000 to find and destroy)

Marking minefields

Marking minefields

  • Ideally, minefields laid by armies should be well marked, to prevent friendly troops from entering

  • All mines locations should be recorded, since warning signs can be removed or destroyed, and so safe routes through the mine fields can be followed by friendly soldiers

Unreliable marking

Unreliable marking

  • In the “fog of war” protocols are not always accurately followed

  • New landmines designed to be scattered by helicopter, plane, by artillery, or ejected from cruise missiles, make precise recording impossible

    (US air deployed mines have a self-deactivating design, but reliability is uncertain)

Deliberately unmarked fields

Deliberately unmarked fields

  • Non-state armies (rebel groups, guerilla fighters) do not reliably uphold these conventions

  • Often, their goal is to spread fear and panic in the community, and deliberately terrorize civilians. So mined areas are deliberately not marked

  • Such tactics were regularly employed in the Southern African conflicts throughout the ’70s and 80’s:

    Angola, Mozambique, Nambia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, are still plagued with landmines as a result.

Landmines are indiscriminate

Landmines are indiscriminate

  • The vast majority of victims are civilians, not soldiers.

  • According to the Landmine Monitor Report 2003, only 15% of reported casualties were military personnel

Mines remain after conflict ends

Mines remain after conflict ends

  • Most of the countries where casualties are reported are at peace

  • In 2002-2003, 41 of the 65 countries that reported new mine casualties were not experiencing any armed conflict

  • Landmines placed during WWI sometimes still cause deaths in parts of Europe and North Africa

Long term costs to survivors

Long term costs to survivors

  • Permanent disability is almost certain

  • A growing child needs a prosthetic limb frequently refitted each year, and few can afford this

  • Many face social exclusion, such as being seen as unfit to marry

  • Some children never return to school after their accident

Long term costs to survivors1

Long term costs to survivors

  • A death might cost a family their primary breadwinner

  • For survivors, vocational training and support is often unavailable

  • Many struggle to make a living after their accident, and become a burden on their families

  • Victims often end up begging on the streets

Mines hamper recovery after conflict ends

Mines hamper recovery after conflict ends

  • People in some of the poorest countries are deprived of their productive land and infrastructure

  • Farm lands, orchards, irrigation canals, and wells may no longer be accessible

  • Mines cut off access to economically important areas, such as roads, dams, and electricity towers

Mines hamper recovery after conflict ends1

Mines hamper recovery after conflict ends

  • Landmines slow repatriation of refugees after a conflict ceases, or prevent it altogether

  • They hamper the delivery of relief services, and injure or kill aid workers

Widespread problem

Widespread problem

  • More than 75 countries are affected by undetonated mines

  • Some of the most contaminated places:

    • Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chechnya, Colombia, Iraq, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, India, and Pakistan

Widespread problem1

Widespread problem

  • Nobody knows how many mines are still in the ground worldwide

  • The actual number is less important than their impact:

    It can only take a few mines, or just the suspicion of their presence, to make an area unusable



  • Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

  • AKA “Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects”

  • AKA “The CCW”

    • Was an amendment to the Geneva Conventions of 1949

    • Concluded in Geneva on October 1980, went in to force in December 1983

    • Amended again in 1996

Landmines and cluster bombs an enduring problem


  • Consisted of 5 protocols

  • Protocol II concerns “Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps, and Other Devices”

  • Prohibits the use of non-self-destructing or non-self-deactivating mines outside fenced, monitored, and marked areas

Landmines and cluster bombs an enduring problem


  • Unfortunately, CCW lacked specific mechanisms to ensure verification and enforcement of compliance, and had no formal process for resolving disputes about compliance.

  • The US only signed 2 of the 5 protocols, the minimum required to be considered a signatory

Continue toll

Continue Toll

  • NGOs continued to see toll mines took in the various communities they had been working in, in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America

  • They knew only a complete ban would adequately address the problem

The icbl


  • The International Campaign to Ban Land Mines (ICBL) was launched in 1992

  • Formed from 6 NGOs (Handicap International, Human Rights Watch, Medico International, Mines Advisory Group, Physicians for Human Rights, and Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation)

  • Lobbied governments and rallied public support for a complete ban

Celebrity support

Celebrity Support

  • The late Princess Diana focused attention on the problem of landmines, and the need for a ban

  • Visited Angola and Bosnia with mine clearing organizations, and focused the media spotlight on the victims

  • Her work brought increased public support and pressure on governments to sign the treaty

The mine ban treaty

The Mine Ban Treaty

  • “The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and Their Destruction”

  • AKA “The Mine Ban Treaty”

  • Signed by 122 governments in Ottawa, Canada in December 1997

The requirements

The Requirements

  • Signatories must stop production and deployment of anti-personnel mines

  • They must destroy all anti-personnel mines in its possession within 4 years

    (A small number of mines may remain for purposes of training mine detection and clearance)

  • Within 10 years, the country should have cleared all of its mined areas

  • Mine affected countries are eligible for international assistance for mine clearance and victim assistance once they sign the Mine Ban Treaty

Signatories to the treaty

Signatories to the Treaty

  • As of August 2007, 155 State Parties had signed

  • Only 40 states remain outside the treaty

  • Notable exclusions:

    China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, and United States

Us refusal to sign

US Refusal to Sign

  • The US refuses to sign the treaty because it does not offer a “Korean exception”

  • Argues landmines are crucial to its strategy in South Korea

  • One million mines along the DMZ between North and South Korea

  • Believes it maintains a delicate peace by deterring a North Korean attack

Us contribution to the problem

US Contribution to the Problem

  • U.S. used antipersonnel mines in Vietnam, Korea, and first Gulf War

  • From 1969-1992, U.S. exported over 5 million antipersonnel mines to over 30 countries

  • Those include Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Somalia, and Vietnam

  • U.S. made mines have been found in at least 28 of these mine affected countries or regions

Worldwide recognition

Worldwide Recognition

  • The coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Jody Williams, won the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for her work

Current status

Current Status

  • Landmines continue to pose a threat to citizens

  • The most landmine affected countries are Afghanistan, Angola, and Cambodia

  • The middle east has been called the “landmine heartland,” with tens of millions of buried landmines

Current status1

Current Status

  • Every 28 minutes, someone steps on a landmine

  • Landmines are estimated to kill or injure approximately 18,000 people every year

Continued mine use

Continued Mine Use

  • Only 2 states continue to deploy new mines

  • Myanmar’s military forces continue to use antipersonnel mines extensively

  • Russia continues to use mines, primarily in Chechnya, but also in Dagestan and on the borders of Tajikistan and Georgia

Continued mine use1

Continued Mine Use

  • Israel may have laid antipersonnel mines in the 2006 conflict with South Lebanon

  • Russian peacekeepers claim Georgian military forces laid new landmines, despite its moratorium on landmine use

Cessation of use

Cessation of Use

  • Nepal, with its cease-fire in 2006

  • Angola, since the April 2002 peace agreement

  • Sri Lanka, since the cease-fire in 2001

  • Rebel use has stopped in Angola, Sri Lanka, Macedonia, Senegal, and Uganda

The bad news

The Bad News

  • 13 countries still produce or retain the right to produce antipersonnel mines

  • Forty countries outside the Mine Ban Treaty together possess 160 million antipersonnel mines

New production

New Production

  • The ICBL identified the following countries as manufacturing landmines as of August 2004:

    • Singapore

    • Vietnam

    • Burma

    • Nepal

    • India

    • Pakistan

    • Russia

    • Cuba

    • Iran

    • North Korea

    • United States

Us production

US Production

  • US has failed to adopt sign the Mine Ban Treaty, or adopt an official moratorium

  • Since US stockpiles are at capacity, there had not been any US based production of antipersonnel mines since 1997

Bush administration policy

Bush Administration Policy

  • February 2004, President Bush announced his landmine policy

  • No intention of joining the Mine Ban Treaty

  • Continued development and production of antipersonnel mines

    (although self-destructing/deactivating)

Companies producing mines

Companies Producing Mines

  • In the US, no company produces mines from beginning to end

  • Companies only produce component parts, which are assembled in government-owned, contractor operated army ammunition plants

Companies producing mines1

Seventeen US companies, formerly involved in producing antipersonnel mines, declined to renounce future production:

AAI Corp


Alliant Techsystems, Inc.

Accudyne Corp

Ferrulmatic, Inc.


Dale Electronics, Inc.

Ensign-Bickford Industries, Inc.

General Electric

Lockheed Martin Corp.

Mohawk Electrical Systems, Inc.

Nomura Enterprise, Inc.

Parlex Corp.

Quantic Industries, Inc.


Thiokol Corp.

Vishay Sprague

Companies Producing Mines

New us production

New US Production

  • In July 2006, Pentagon announced it had awarded contracts to two companies or the development of a new landmine system

    (Alliant Techsystems, and Textron Systems)

  • Called “the Spider”

  • Deploys triplines, that can be activated remotely by a monitoring soldier

  • May also be activated by the victim (as in a conventional mine)

New us production1

New US Production

  • Congress stalled the production by requiring the Pentagon to first study the possible indiscriminate consequences of deploying this weapon.

  • The issue is only delayed until the study is submitted to Congress

Removing mines

Removing Mines

  • Even after production is halted, mines must be removed from the ground

Removing mines1

Removing Mines

  • Mechanical Devices

    • Mine flails may only be 80% effective (good enough for military use)

Removing mines2

Removing Mines

  • For Humanitarian De-mining, UN sets a standard of 99.6% removal

  • Communities must feel safe returning to their lives

  • Most mines must be detected and removed/deactivated by hand

Removing mines3

Removing Mines

  • Humanitarian De-miners first try to restore access to productive land and vital infrastructure

  • For example: clearing a path to a water source, or a village school

Removing mines4

Removing Mines

  • De-mining by hand is time consuming, labor intensive, and dangerous

  • Mines are rarely placed in flat, open fields

  • Terrain is often rocky and steep

Removing mines5

Removing Mines

  • Proper protective equipment is expensive

Removing mines6

Removing Mines

  • Some countries can not afford such protective equipment

Possible new methods

Possible New Methods

  • Gambian Giant Pouched Rat

  • Can be trained with food rewards to find certain odors

  • Too small to set off the mines

Possible new methods1

Possible New Methods

  • Honey bees

  • May be trained to detect chemical odors from mines

Possible new methods2

Possible New Methods

  • The mustard Arabidopsis thaliana normally turns red under harsh conditions

  • Scientists have bred a strain that turns red in response to the nitrous oxide that leaks from landmines and other explosives

Possible new methods3

Possible New Methods

  • A bacterium has been genetically engineered that will fluoresce under UV light in the presence of TNT

  • Could be sprayed over an entire field to detect mines

Some good news

Some Good News

  • Since the Mine Ban Treaty:

    • World-wide production has fallen considerably

    • Trade has almost come to a halt

Some good news1

Some Good News

  • In 2006, over 450 square km of mined land was cleared and put back into productive use

Some good news2

Some Good News

  • Mine risk education reached 7.3 million people, to protect them from the danger of mines

Some good news3

Some Good News

  • Since the treaty, there has been widespread destruction of stockpiled mines

What you can do

What You Can Do

  • Support organizations that aid countries in clearing mined fields, providing assistance to victims, and lobby for continued government action against landmines

  • Volunteer time and money

What you can do1

What You Can Do

  • HALO (Hazardous Area Life-Support Organization)

  • A British and American NPO whose purpose is to remove landmines and unexploded ordinance left behind after a war

  • Operates in 9 countries, and has over 7000 mine-clearers

  • Largest operation is in Afghanistan

  • Has removed 30,000 mines in Angola since the end of their war in 1994

What you can do2

What You Can Do

  • Clear Path International

  • Assists the civilian victims of landmines and other explosive remnants of war

  • Supports prosthetic clinics

  • Delivers prostheses to remote areas far from medical care

What you can do3

What You Can Do

  • Adopt-A-Minefield Campaign

  • Works primarily through the UN to clear mine fields in some of the most heavily mined countries in the world

  • Works with a number of organizations to provide relief to landmine survivors

  • Cleared over 21 million square meters of land in Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam

  • Provided over $1.5 million for survivor assistance projects

What you can do4

What You Can Do

  • Marshall Legacy Institute

  • Contributors can sponsor a mine-detection dog

What you can do5

What you can do

  • Support the International Campaign to Ban Landmines

  • Challenge elected officials (and candidates) to sign the Mine Ban Treaty

Cluster bombs

Cluster Bombs

Cluster bomb design

Cluster Bomb Design

  • Air dropped or ground launched munitions that eject a number of smaller munitions (“bomblets”)

  • Variety of designs

  • Variety of types of bomblets

    • Anti-personnel

    • Incendiary

    • Anti-tank

    • Anti-runway

    • Anti-electrical

Cluster bomb design1

Cluster Bomb Design

  • Depending on the type and size of cluster bomb, a single munition may contain over 2000 bomblets

Large strike area

Large Strike Area

  • Bomblets are scattered over a very wide area

  • The area hit by a single cluster munition can be as large as 2 or 3 football fields.

  • With such a wide area, civilians are frequently hit inadvertently

Unexploded ordinance

Unexploded Ordinance

  • Not all bomblets detonate on impact

  • They remain live, and can explode if handled

  • Essentially act as landmines

Intrinsic failure rate

Intrinsic Failure Rate

  • For example:

    • U.S. made M26 warheads with M77 submunitions are designed to have a 5% dud rate;

    • In reality, they have a dud rate closer to 16%

  • M483A1 DPICM artillery delivered cluster bombs have a reported dud rate of 14%

Small failures add up

Small Failures Add Up

  • Given that each cluster bomb contains hundreds of bomblets, and are fired in volleys…

  • …even a small failure rate can lead to hundreds or thousands of unexploded ordinances scattered about

Continue to be a danger

Continue to be a Danger

  • Like landmines, they may still be live and deadly even many years after deployed

Unintended deadliness

Unintended Deadliness

  • Some cluster bomblets are brightly colored to increase their visibility and warn off civilians

  • However, the color, combined with their small and non-threatening appearance, cause children to interpret them as toys

Tragic oversight

Tragic Oversight

  • In the War in Afghanistan, humanitarian rations dropped from airplanes were in similar yellow colored packaging as undetonated BLU-97B bomblets

  • After several deaths, the humanitarian packages were changed to blue, then to transparent, to try to avoid such confusion

Ongoing deaths

Ongoing Deaths

  • In Vietnam, people are still being killed from cluster bombs dropped by U.S. and Vietnamese forces; up to 300 every year

  • Unexploded cluster bombs kill more civilians in post-war Kosovo than landmines

  • Citizens in Lebanon are being injured and killed by unxploded bomblets left from the 2006 conflict with Irseal

  • Cluster bomblets kill and maim civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan as we try to gain local support

Landmines and cluster bombs an enduring problem


  • Protocol V of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons covers “explosive remnants of war”

  • Sometimes applied to the topic of cluster munitions

  • Has little power to enforce, and the primary users of cluster weapons are not signatories

Cluster munitions coalition

Cluster Munitions Coalition

  • Following failure of the CCW review in 2006 to effectively address the humanitarian crisis of cluster munitions, CMC begun

  • A network of more than 200 NGOs, faith-based groups, and professional organizations

  • Includes global organizations, such as Handicap International, International Campaign to Ban Landmines, and Human Rights Watch

The oslo process

The Oslo Process

  • Through the CMC, the Norwegian Government, along with Austria, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, and Peru, announced its intention to establish a new international process to establish a treaty banning cluster bombs

  • Will also increase clearance of contaminated land, and provide assistance to victims

  • In Feb 2007, 46 nations met in Oslo, committed themselves to completing this treaty by 2008, and began to shape the document

  • As of November 2007, 84 states were participating in the Oslo Process

Taking an example from the mine ban treaty

Taking an Example from the Mine Ban Treaty

  • CMC is calling on governments to make a strong and comprehensive treaty, that will make a real difference in peoples lives, without exceptions, delays, or loopholes

  • Government must publicly endorse the previous draft in order to participate in the next conference

  • Despite not being a superpower, smaller countries are taking decisive steps, and not waiting for larger countries to come around

Global day of action

Global Day of Action

  • The Global Day of Action to Ban Cluster Bombs

    April 19, 2008

  • Occurs one month before the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions (May 19-30, 2008)

What you can do6

What You Can Do

  • Get involved!

  • CMC gives advice on organizing events to demonstrate public support, raise awareness, and pressure governments to ban cluster munitions

What you can do7

What You Can Do

  • Question candidates about their position on cluster munitions

    • A September 6, 2006, the Senate amendment to ban the use of cluster bombs in civilian areas was voted on

    • Senator Clinton voted no

    • Senator Obama voted yes



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