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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

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 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 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 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 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 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

  • 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 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

  • 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 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


  • 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


  • 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

  • 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 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

  • 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 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

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

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 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

  • 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 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 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

  • 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

  • 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

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

  • 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 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

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

Removing Mines

  • Mechanical Devices

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

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 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 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 Mines

  • Proper protective equipment is expensive

Removing Mines

  • Some countries can not afford such protective equipment

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 Methods

  • Honey bees

  • May be trained to detect chemical odors from mines

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 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

  • Since the Mine Ban Treaty:

    • World-wide production has fallen considerably

    • Trade has almost come to a halt

Some Good News

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

Some Good News

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

Some Good News

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

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 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 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 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 Do

  • Marshall Legacy Institute

  • Contributors can sponsor a mine-detection dog

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 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 Design

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

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

  • Not all bomblets detonate on impact

  • They remain live, and can explode if handled

  • Essentially act as landmines

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

  • 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

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

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

  • 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

  • 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


  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 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 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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