Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 05 November 2015


The Republic of Colombia signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified on 6 September 2000, becoming a State Party on 1 March 2001.

National implementation legislation, Law 759, came into effect on 25 July 2002.[1] In relation to the Mine Ban Treaty, Colombia has also passed laws on victim assistance, land restitution, and civilian humanitarian demining operations. Law 1421 of 2010 permits NGOs to conduct humanitarian demining operations in the country.[2] On 13 July 2011, the Colombian Presidential Program for Comprehensive Mine Action (Programa Presidencial de Acción Integral Contra Minas Antipersonales, PAICMA) published the draft regulatory decree of Law 1421.[3] Law 3750 of 10 October 2011 regulates demining by civil society organizations.[4]

Colombia submitted its 14th Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report on 30 April 2015, which covered calendar year 2014.[5] Under national implementation measures, it reported that activities addressed by the treaty are criminalized by the penal code.[6]

Colombia has continued its activity in support of the Mine Ban Treaty at the highest levels. It hosted the Second Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty in Cartagena in November–December 2009. It attended the Third Review Conference in Maputo, Mozambique in June 2014, as well as the First Review Conference in Nairobi, Kenya in 2004. Colombia has participated in every Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty and almost all of the intersessional Standing Committee meetings held in Geneva since 1999, including in June 2015.

Colombia served as co-chair of the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance and Socio-Economic Reintegration in 2002–2003 and co-chaired the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education, and Mine Action Technologies in 2011.

Colombia is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II on landmines, but has never submitted a CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 annual report.

The Colombian Campaign against Landmines (Campaña Colombiana contra Minas, CCCM) works to address the country’s extensive landmine problem.[7] It has called on the government to use military demining teams to clear coca crops because civilians employed by the Colombian government to eradicate the crops have become casualties due to explosive devices.[8]

In January 2014, Vice President Angelino Garzon called on Colombia’s principle armed group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo, FARC) as well as the National Liberation Army (Unión Camilista-Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN) to stop using landmines.[9]

On 4 April 2015, thousands of people in different cities of the country joined the annual Remangate (“Roll-up”) action, first organized by Fundación Arcangeles in 2011, which involves people making the symbolic gesture of rolling up a pant leg in support of efforts against landmines and in solidarity with victims.[10]

In 2012, Colombian music star Juanes joined a high-level group supporting universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty.[11]

Production, transfer, use, and stockpiling

Colombia’s State Military Industry (Industria Militar, INDUMIL) ceased production of antipersonnel mines in September 1998 and destroyed its production equipment on 18 November 1999.[12]

The government of Colombia is not known to have ever exported antipersonnel mines.

Colombia reported completion of the destruction of its stockpile of 18,531 antipersonnel mines on 24 October 2004.[13]

Colombia has retained the same number of mines for training purposes since 2007. It declared a total of 586 MAP-1 mines retained for training purposes in its 2009 Article 7 report and has not provided a number in subsequent reports, but has instead declared “no change in the quantity of retained antipersonnel mines.”[14]

Colombia last destroyed or consumed mines in training activities in 2006, when 300 retained mines were destroyed in three separate events.[15]

Colombia has not reported in detail on the intended purposes and actual uses of its retained mines, as agreed by States Parties, but in 2011 Colombia informed the Monitor that the mines were “used for training the humanitarian demining units [of the armed forces], in the use of equipment for mine clearance.”[16]

Antipersonnel mines discovered during mine clearance are destroyed on site and not kept for training purposes.[17]

Use by non-state armed groups

Within the framework of ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP in Cuba, in March 2015 an agreement covering limited joint clearance activities was concluded as a confidence-building measure.[18] Alvaro Jimenez, Coordinator of the CCCM said of the agreement, “I welcome the signing of this historic agreement. I believe that with full implementation of the agreement, countless lives of Colombians will be saved. We are looking forward to see the agreement fully translated into action on the ground. On behalf of the Colombian campaign, we call on the ELN to stop using mines and to take action to get rid of landmines once and for ever.”[19] The agreement does not require FARC to halt new use or production, although it does pledge not to re-lay mines in any areas cleared.

FARC continued to use antipersonnel mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).[20] Media reports and statements by the armed forces reveal that non-state armed groups (NSAGs) continued to use landmines in 2015, despite ongoing peace talks; the Colombian Army has continued to encounter or recover newly laid mines, or caches, from FARC and the ELN in its operations. From June 2014 to June 2015, the Monitor found 105 cases of new use. Particularly in Antioquia, Caquetá, Meta, Nariño, Arauca, and Putumayo departments.[21] For example, in July 2014, two civilians were wounded after stepping on a landmine allegedly emplaced by FARC guerrillas of the mobile column Daniel Aldana on a road in the municipality of Tumaco, department of Nariño, which borders Ecuador. In August 2014, government forces discovered six pressure mines laid by FARC Front 36 in the municipalities of Barbosa and Caceres. In September 2014, FARC Front 36 was reported to have laid pressure mines in the area of the municipality of Campamento Llanadas and in the general area of the Muñoz sector of the municipality of Angostura. In October 2014, villagers discovered that mines had been laid around a school in Inza (Cauca). In November 2014, in Córdoba, Nariño, government forces discovered three IEDs abandoned by members of the FARC Front 48. In December 2014, members of the ELN Front Cimarron planted mines in a rural area of the municipality of Tado, Choco, which resulted in minor injuries to a child. In January 2015, FARC Front 40 rigged shrapnel mines at head level in a rural area of the village of Santa Elena, municipality of Plateaus, which were discovered and destroyed by Army technicians. In February 2015, two civilians were injured by a mine in the municipality of Ituango Corregimiento Santa Rita, near the village of San Marcos, which local authorities believe was likely emplaced by members of FARC Front 18. In March 2015, an Army unit encountered mines in the village of Pearls Low, in a rural area of the municipality of San Vicente del Caguan, laid by the FARC mobile column Teofilo Forero Castro to impede their movement. In April 2015, the Army encountered and destroyed a mine allegedly laid by FARC Front 15 while on operations in the municipality of El Paujil, Bolivia. In May 2015, while on operations, the Army encountered three mines laid by FARC mobile column Libardo Garcia in the municipality of Buenaventura in Valle del Cauca. In June 2015, an Army unit located and destroyed a cache of 40 FARC mines in Planadas (Tolima).[22]

In October 2014, several tons of IED-making equipment was seized in the municipality of Ricaurte in Nariño department, including explosives and detonators.[23] An October 2014 raid by Colombian forces on an ELN training camp reportedly recovered 86 “booby trap” mines and various other mine components.[24] Four victim-activated explosive devices, reportedly laid by FARC guerrillas, were found in trees in Huila department in the south of the country in September 2014, a practice first reported in 2012.[25]

Transfer and production by non-state armed groups

In the past, there were reports of mines being transferred in illegal weapons shipments to NSAGs in Colombia, but not since 2003.

NSAGs in Colombia are experts in the production of explosive devices. Both FARC and the ELN manufacture antipersonnel mines and IEDs that are both victim-activated and remotely controlled.

Colombia’s Article 7 reports contain information on mines produced by NSAGs by type, dimensions, fuzing, explosive type and content, and metallic content; the reports also include photographs and additional information. Twelve different design types are manufactured, which include antipersonnel, antivehicle, and Claymore-type directional mines, as well as IEDs. The military states that the mines are sometimes fitted with antihandling devices.[26]

[1] For details on penal sanctions and other aspects of Law 759, see Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form A, 6 May 2005; and Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 255.

[2] Statement of Colombia, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 20 June 2011.

[3]Presentación borradores de los documentos del decreto reglamentario de la Ley 1421 de 2010 y Estándares Nacionales de Desminado Humanitario” (“Presentation of draft documents of the Decree Law 1421 of 2010 and National Standards for Humanitarian Demining”), 15 July 2011.

[4] Ministry of Defense, “Decreto Número 3750 de 2011” (“Decree Number 3750 of 2011”), 10 October 2011.

[5] Previous reports were submitted in April 2014, April 2013, on 25 April 2012, 30 April 2011, 30 April 2010, 30 April 2009, in April 2008, in April 2007, and on 29 June 2006, 6 May 2005, 11 May 2004, 27 May 2003, 6 August 2002, and 15 March 2002.

[6] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form A, April 2014.

[7] CCCM was established in 2000 and has local sections in 22 of the 32 departments of Colombia.

[8] Anastasia Moloney, “Colombia’s coca clearers face landmine danger,” Alertnet, 30 November 2011.

[10] See, DAICMA Press Release, “Este 4 de abril ¡Remángate!,” 1 April 2015.

[11] Mine Ban Convention Implementation Support Unit Press Release, “International music superstar Juanes joins high level push to ban landmines,” 25 May 2012.

[12] Interviews with Eng. Sergio Rodríguez, Second Technical Manager, INDUMIL, 5 July 2000, and 24 July 2001. As of 2001, INDUMIL was still producing Claymore-type directional fragmentation mines. Colombia has stated that these mines are used only in command-detonated mode, as permitted by the Mine Ban Treaty. However, Colombia has not reported on steps it has taken to ensure that these mines are used only in command-detonated mode.

[13] In addition to these 18,531 mines destroyed, the government reported three other destructions of a total of 3,404 antipersonnel mines. Over the years, there have been many inconsistencies and discrepancies in Colombia’s count of stockpiled mines and their destruction. The Ministry of Defense sent a letter to the Monitor in September 2005 to clarify many of the problems. For details, see Landmine Monitor Report 2006, p. 302.

[14] “Colombia no reporta novedad con respecto al informe anterior” (“Colombia does not report any change with respect to the previous report”), Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form D, April 2013.

[15] In 2003 and 2004, Colombia reported it retained 986 mines for training. It reduced that number to 886 in 2005 when it decided the larger number was not necessary. It destroyed 300 more mines in 2006 (100 each in March, September, and December), but the number has not changed since December 2006. See Landmine Monitor Report 2007, pp. 267–268; and Landmine Monitor Report 2006, pp. 302–303.

[16] Response to Monitor questionnaire by Amb. Alicia Arango Olmos, Permanent Mission of Colombia to the UN in Geneva, 13 May 2011.

[17] Ibid.

[19] From social media in Colombia, sent to the Monitor by Camilo Serna, Operational Coordinator and Monitor Researcher, CCCM, 11 March 2015.

[21] June 2014–June 2015 media tracking in Colombia by Camilo Serna, CCCM, 11 July 2015. Media database of new use, unknown use, and seizures with 200 entries from the following Colombian media sources: El Tiempo, Ejército Nacional, RCN Radio, El País, La Opinión, La Voz del Cinaruco, El Líder, El Espectador, UARIV, HSB Noticias, PAICMA, Diario del Huila, El Colombiano, Crónica del Quindío, La Nación, El Nuevo Día, and Vanguardia.

[22] Ibid.

[24]Army troops discover ELN bomb factory in northern Colombia,” Colombia Reports, 6 October 2014.

[25]Tree bombs – The FARC’s new war tactic?Colombia Reports, 30 September 2014.

[26] Presentation by the Colombian Armed Forces, “Desarrollo Compromiso con la Convención de Ottawa” (“Development Commitment with the Ottawa Convention”), Bogotá, 6 March 2006. Antipersonnel mines and IEDs manufactured by armed groups are constructed out of everything from glass bottles to plastic jerry cans. The explosive used is normally ANFO (made from fertilizer), but sometimes is a conventional explosive such as TNT. The mines are initiated by pressure-activated syringe fuzes (chemical initiation), battery-operated fuzes, and electric fuzes activated by both pressure and tripwires. These mines often have high levels of metal fragmentation in them.