Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 16 November 2016


The Republic of Colombia signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997, ratified on 6 September 2000, and became 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 mine clearance 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 15th Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report on 13 May 2016, which covered calendar year 2015.[5] Under national implementation measures, it reported that activities addressed by the treaty are criminalized by the penal code.[6] It also reported Law 1753 of 2015, which enforces Colombia’s implementation of a national mine clearance plan in 2014–2018.

Colombia also reported Decree 1019 of 2015 approving the clearance of mined territory that the government of Colombia signed as part of a peace deal in Havana, Cuba with Colombia’s principle armed group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo, FARC-EP).

On 26 September 2016, the government of Colombia and the FARC-EP signed a peace accord after four years of negotiations.[7] The FARC-EP peace deal has attracted significant attention. On 19 September 2016, Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos spoke at an event on the eve of the UN General Assembly opening that United States (US) Secretary of State John Kerry and Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende convened to encourage funding announcements. According to a joint statement by the US and Norway, 19 other nations and the European Union pledged a collective total of US $105 million dollars for landmine survey and clearance, risk education, and victim assistance in Colombia.[8]

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 and attended the Third Review Conference in Maputo, Mozambique in June 2014 and 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. In November 2015, Colombia was made incoming co-chair of the Mine Ban Treaty’s Committee on Victim Assistance together with Belgium.

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.[9] 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.[10] On 4 April 2016, Colombians 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.[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

The 2016 peace accord, narrowly rejected by voters in October 2016, requires the FARC-EP to cease all armed conflict, demobilize, and turn in all weapons, including mines and components. Previously, in March 2015, the peace talks agreed to begin limited joint clearance activities as a confidence-building measure.[18] That agreement did not require the FARC to halt new use or production, although it did pledge not to re-lay mines in any areas cleared.

Every year since 1999, Landmine Monitor has reported new mine use by armed opposition groups, mainly the FARC, but new use of victim-activated devices appears to have dropped dramatically beginning in the second half of 2015 and through 2016.

In this reporting period (October 2015 through October 2016), the Monitor found no evidence of new use of antipersonnel mines by the FARC, including no use of victim-activated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) (improvised mines). A review of media reporting during the period found two incidents of new mine use that were attributed to the National Liberation Army (Unión Camilista-Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN) and two more incidents blamed on “criminals.”[19]

The Colombian army attributed one mine incident in Santander department in August 2015 to the Capt. Paremino Company of the ELN. In October 2015, media reported that the ELN allegedly planted explosive devices near the bodies of dead soldiers.[20]

Transfer and production by non-state armed groups

There have been past reports of mines being transferred in illegal weapons shipments to non-state armed groups (NSAGs) in Colombia, but none since 2003.

NSAGs in Colombia are experts in the production of explosive devices. Both the 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.[21]

[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] Previously, it submitted reports in April 2015, 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] Acuerdo Final para la Terminación del Conflicto y la Construcción de una Paz Estable y Duradera, 24 August 2016, signed 26 September 2016, Havana, Cuba. Negotiations on the accord began in November 2012. However, it was rejected in a nationwide plebiscite on 2 October 2016.

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

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

[11] See, María Gabriela Méndez, “La vida después de una mina antipersona,” Univision Noticas, 4 April 2016; and “Promueven campaña ‘Remángate Nariño’,” HSB Noticas, 4 April 2016.

[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] July 2015–July 2016 media tracking in Colombia by Camilo Serna, CCCM, 12 July 2016. Media database of new use, unknown use, and seizures. The database contained 149 incidents. Seventy-nine were attributed to the FARC, 36 to the ELN, one to Los Urabenos, and 33 unattributable. Reports were collected from the following Colombian media sources: El Tiempo, Meridiano, Ejército Nacional, RCN Radio, Caracol Radio, Radio Santa Fe, El País, El Espectador, El Pais, La FM, El Heraldo, La Voz del Cinaruco, La Nación, Pasto Extra, HSB Noticias, and Vanguardia.

[20] Ibid.

[21] 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.