Belarus

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 01 August 2017

Summary: Non-signatory Belarus acknowledges the convention’s humanitarian rationale, but has not taken any steps to join it. Belarus abstained from voting on a key UN resolution in December 2016 and has never participated in a meeting of the convention. Belarus has not produced cluster munitions, nor is it known to have used or exported them. It inherited a stockpile from the Soviet Union, but has not provided any information on the types or quantities possessed.

Policy

The Republic of Belarus has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Belarus rarely comments on its position on joining the convention.[1] After the convention was adopted in 2008, Belarus said it “shares the humanitarian concerns” caused by cluster munitions but objects to the way in which the convention was negotiated outside UN auspices.[2]

In December 2016, Belarus abstained from voting on a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution that calls on states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[3] Belarus also abstained from the vote on the first UNGA resolution on the convention in December 2015.[4]

Belarus did not participate in the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Belarus has never participated in a meeting of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, even as an observer.[5]

Belarus is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty and completed the destruction of its stockpiled antipersonnel landmines in April 2017.

Belarus is a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and in the past expressed a preference for cluster munitions to be addressed through this framework. In 2011, the CCW failed to adopt a new protocol on cluster munitions, effectively ending its deliberations on the topic and leaving the Convention on Cluster Munitions as the sole international instrument to address the suffering caused by these weapons. Belarus has not proposed any further CCW work on cluster munitions since 2011.

Use, production, and transfer

In 2010, Belarus said, “Our country is not a producer of cluster munitions.”[6] It is not known to have used or exported cluster munitions.

Stockpiling

Belarus inherited a stockpile of cluster munitions from the Soviet Union. In 2010, Belarus said that it does not have a “major” stockpile, but it has not provided any information on the types or quantities.[7]

According to Jane’s Information Group, RBK-500 series cluster bombs are in service with the country’s air force.[8] Belarus also possesses Grad 122mm, Uragan 220mm, and Smerch 300mm surface-to-surface rockets, but it is not known if these include versions with submunition payloads.[9]

According to a CMC member in Belarus, cluster munitions with expired shelf-life are regularly destroyed by the Ministry of Defense.[10]



[1] In November 2010, a government representative told the CMC the convention is “too strict” and not applicable for Belarus as it may threaten its security. Meeting with Ivan Grinevich, Counsellor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, in Geneva, 30 November 2010. Notes by the CMC.

[2] Statement of Belarus, UN General Assembly (UNGA), First Committee Disarmament and International Security, New York, 30 October 2008. Translation provided by email from Tatiana Fedorovich, Permanent Mission of Belarus to the UN in New York, 26 November 2008.

[3]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 71/45, 5 December 2016.

[4]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 70/54, 7 December 2015.

[5] For details on Belarus’s cluster munition policy and practice up to early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 190–191.

[6] Statement of Belarus, Convention on Conventional Weapons Group of Governmental Experts on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 1 September 2010. Notes by Action on Armed Violence.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), p. 836.

[9] International Institute for Strategic Studies, The Military Balance 2011 (London: Routledge, 2011), p. 89; and Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2007–2008, CD-edition, 15 January 2008 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2008).

[10] Interview with Dr. Iouri Zagoumennov, Support Center for Associations and Foundations, Minsk, 1 April 2010.

Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 24 October 2017

Policy

The Republic of Belarus acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 September 2003, becoming a State Party on 1 March 2004.

Belarus has cited various articles of its criminal code as national implementation measures, as well as decrees specific to antipersonnel mines.[1]

Belarus submitted its fourteenth Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report on 30 April 2017.

Until 2016, Belarus participated in every Review Conference, Meeting of States Parties, and intersessional meeting since joining the Mine Ban Treaty over a decade ago. Belarus was not in attendance at the Fifteenth Meeting of States Parties in Santiago in November–December 2016, but did attend the 2017 intersessional meetings in Geneva, where it provided an update on its stockpile destruction.[2]

At previous meetings, Belarus has provided updates on its joint stockpile destruction project with the European Union (EU) and Spanish company, Explosivos Alaveses SA (EXPAL).

Belarus is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Belarus is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II on landmines. It submitted an annual report as required by Article 13 on 19 May 2017.[3] Belarus is also a party to CCW Protocol V on explosive remnants of war. It submitted its latest national report pursuant to Article 10 in early 2017.

Use, production, and transfer

Belarus has said it did not produce or export antipersonnel mines since independence in 1992 and never used antipersonnel mines for protection of its borders or for other purposes.[4]

Stockpiling and destruction

Belarus’s original stockpile of antipersonnel mines, inherited from the former Soviet Union, totaled approximately 4.5 million. It completed the destruction of non-PFM types at the end of 2006,[5] and completed its destruction of PFM-1 mines in 2017.

Belarus failed to meet its deadline of 1 March 2008 to destroy all stockpiles of antipersonnel mines under its jurisdiction or control.[6] A 2010–2011 stockpile inventory saw the Ministry of Defense revise down the number stockpiled to 3,356,636 PFM-1 mines remaining to be destroyed.[7] This change was reflected in subsequent Article 7 reports.[8]

Belarus had repeatedly stated that it required international assistance in order to destroy its PFM-type antipersonnel mines.[9] Attempts to provide assistance through projects financed through the European Commission (EC) collapsed in 2006 and 2008 for various reasons.[10] A program was “re-launched” by the EU on 30 June 2010, with a period of performance stipulated at 28 months.[11] In December 2010, the EU announced that the contract was awarded to the Spanish company EXPAL for a total value of €3,900,000 (US$5,171,790).[12]

Belarusreported destroying 1,862,080 PFM-1 mines in 2015 in its transparency report submitted on 30 April 2016.[13] At the Fourteenth Meeting of the States Parties in December 2015, Belarus stated the project to destroy stockpiles of PFM-type mines was extended until August 2020 and the contract between the EC and the company in charge of carrying out destruction, EXPAL, until February 2018.[14] In a May 2016 progress report, Belarus stated that this project was scheduled to be completed by the end of 2017.[15] Belarus also stated that it will destroy any residual stocks of PFM mines that were in an “unsafe” condition.[16]

On 5 April 2017, the Ministry of Defense of Belarus confirmed in a statement that it “has fully fulfilled its international obligations under the Ottawa Convention,” by completing the destruction of “3.4 million antipersonnel mines PFM-1 with the support of the European Union.”[17]

This was confirmed in its latest update at the 2017 intersessional meetings, where Belarus declared the destruction of approximately 3,366,500 PM-1 series mines, as well as the previous destruction of 45,425 PMN, 114,384 PMN-2, 57,324 POM-2, 12,799 POMZ-2, and 64,843 POMZ-2M mines.[18]

Mines retained for research and training

In Article 7 reports submitted in 2014 and 2013, Belarus reported the retention of 6,022 antipersonnel mines for research and training purposes.[19] In its Article 7 report submitted in March 2015, Belarus reduced this amount to 5,998 mines having consumed 24 PMN-2 mines in 2014.[20] In its 2016 Article 7 report, Belarus further reduced the total number retained to 5,997.[21] This number was revised back to 5,998 in 2017, including 1,498 PMN, 1,486 PMN-2, 1,516 POMZ-2M, and 1,498 POMZ-2 mines.[22] Belarus has said that it retains antipersonnel mines for the training of mine detection dogs, testing of protective equipment and mine detectors, and training of personnel.[23]



[2] Statement of Belarus, Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, 8–9 June 2017.

[4] Statement by Aleh Shloma, Representative of Belarus, UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee, New York, 21 October 2004.

[5] Belarus destroyed approximately 300,000 antipersonnel mines between 1992 and 2003. In cooperation with the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency and donor countries, Belarus completed the destruction of 294,775 antipersonnel mines, other than PFM-type mines, in December 2006. This stockpile consisted of 45,425 PMN, 114,384 PMN-2, 12,799 POMZ-2, 64,843 POMZ-2M, and 57,324 POM-2 antipersonnel mines. A total of 217,133 mines were destroyed by open detonation and 12,799 POMZ-2 and 64,843 POMZ-2M mines were disassembled at Belarusian industrial plants. Also in 2006, Belarus destroyed the victim-activated components of its 5,536 MON-type and 200,826 OZM-72 mines.

[6] In informing States Parties that it would not meet the deadline, Belarus stated that it “is not capable to destroy [sic] over 3.3 million stockpiled PFM type mines in terms stipulated in the Convention…The international community has no experience so far in destruction of large quantity of the PFM mines with the environmentally appropriate technology. Open detonation of this type of mines may cause severe consequences for population and environment and is therefore unacceptable. There has always been an understanding that the issue of PFM type mines is unique from the point of view of the Convention…We have repeatedly stated that the Republic of Belarus has no possibilities to accomplish the destruction of the stockpiled PFM mines without the assistance of the international community. In this regard we welcome and highly appreciate the contribution of the European Community in solving this issue.” Note Verbale and Non-Paper sent from the Permanent Mission of Belarus to the UN in Geneva to the Permanent Mission of Jordan to the UN in Geneva (as President of the Eighth Meeting of States Parties), 18 February 2008.

[7] Statement of Belarus, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 20 June 2011. Notes by the ICBL. In 2004, Belarus initially declared a stockpile of 3,374,864 PFM and PFM-1S type antipersonnel mines. As of June 2010, Belarus reported possessing 3,370,172 PFM-1 mines. The slight decrease in stockpiles is the result of a Belarusian private company, Stroyenergo Joint Stock Co., destroying 1,812 PFM-1 mines during a test of its pilot destruction unit in 2009.

[8] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form B, 26 March 2013; and Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form B, 30 April 2011.

[9] See for example, statement of Belarus, Mine Ban Treaty Ninth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 26 November 2008; and statement of Belarus, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 25 May 2009.

[10] See, Landmine Monitor Report 2009, pp. 196–197.

[11] EU, “Service procurement notice, UA-Kiev: ENPI—destruction of PFM-1 series ammunition in Belarus 2010/S 124-188668,” 30 June 2010.

[12] Belarus, “Contract award notice, BY-Minsk: destruction of PFM-1 series ammunition in Belarus 2011/S 14-020376,” 21 January 2011. Average exchange rate for 2010: €1=US$1.3261. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 6 January 2011.

[13] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form B, 30 April 2016.

[14] Statement of Belarus, Mine Ban Treaty Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 3 December 2015.

[15] Statement of Belarus, Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, Committee on Stockpile Destruction, 20 May 2016.

[16] Statement of Belarus, Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 3 December 2015.

[18] Statement of Belarus, Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, 8–9 June 2017.

[19] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form D, 24 March 2014; and Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form D, 26 March 2013.

[20] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form D, 27 March 2015.

[21] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form D, 30 April 2016.

[22] Statement of Belarus, Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, 8–9 June 2017.

[23] This was first articulated in an interview with Maj. Gen. Sergei Luchina, Ministry of Defense, and Valery Kolesnik, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Geneva, 15 June 2005. Belarus restated this during the 25 June 2010 meeting of the Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention in Geneva (in Russian, unofficial translation by Landmine Monitor).

Mine Action

Last updated: 29 November 2014

Contamination and Impact

Mines

Belarus has a residual mine problem from World War II, although in its Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 reports, Belarus has declared no known or suspected areas containing antipersonnel mines under its jurisdiction or control.[1] In 2009, for example, only three out of more than 45,000 items of explosive ordnance cleared were antipersonnel mines.

Cluster munition remnants

It is not known if there are any cluster munition remnants in Belarus.[2]

Other explosive remnants of war

Belarus is primarily contaminated by large quantities of explosive remnants of war (ERW), mainly unexploded ordnance from World War II, World War I, and even from the Napoleonic Wars. According to the Ministry of Defense, more than 350km2 are affected by ERW.[3] Heavy contamination has been reported in Brest, Gomel, Grodno, Minsk, Mogilev, and Vitebsk regions.[4] Most of the contaminated areas are said to be agricultural land or forest. None of the areas containing ERW are marked or fenced and little information is available to indicate the potential density of contamination.[5]

There is also a residual problem from abandoned explosive ordnance. For example, in December 2009, an arsenal of artillery shells, mortar shells, and more than 100 different types of grenade left from World War II was found in a forest near Pekalichi village in Jlobin region by clearance personnel of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.[6]

Contamination also includes explosive ordnance from military testing, as opposed to armed conflict.

Mine Action Program

Key institutions and operators

Body

Situation on 1 January 2012

National Mine Action Authority

None

Mine action center

None

International demining operators

None

National demining operators

Ministry of Defense engineers
Ministry of Internal Affairs clearance personnel

 

Belarus has neither a national mine action authority nor a national mine action center. Demining and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) is conducted by both Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Internal Affairs’ personnel. The Ministry of Defense conducts planned clearance operations while the Ministry of Internal Affairs responds to emergency requests for EOD in cities, towns, and villages, and is also responsible for the detection and clearance of unexploded air-dropped bombs.

The Ministry of Defense engineers have 30 five-person clearance teams across 22 military districts with a total of 150 personnel. Their equipment, which includes mechanical demining assets, was most recently upgraded in 2008.[7] The Ministry of Internal Affairs has 10 EOD units with a total of 100 personnel and 20 mine detection dogs (MDDs): two MDD units with 10 dogs in each.[8]

In 2009, in accordance with Article 7 of Protocol V to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), Belarus officially applied for international assistance for clearance of ERW on its territory.[9]

Land Release

Belarus does not report on the size of area cleared, nor does it distinguish antivehicle mines from ERW destroyed during clearance operations.[10]

Since 1944, more than 27 million ERW are reported to have been cleared in Belarus.[11]

Quality management

There is no external quality assurance or quality control capacity in Belarus.[12]



[1] See, for example, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form C, submitted in 2012.

[2] Interview with Col. Alexander Tihonov, Head of Engineering Technical Department, Ministry of Defense, Minsk, 19 February 2010.

[3] CCW Protocol V Article 10 Report, Form A, 4 September 2009.

[4] Letter from Dmitry Trenashkin, Ministry of Defense, 3 April 2007.

[5] Belarus, “ERW Database,” Discussion Paper 2/REV.1, 2008 Meeting of Experts of the States Parties to CCW Protocol V, May 2009, p. 6.

[6] “Cache of Black diggers,” Respublica, 4 December 2009, www.respublika.info .

[7] Col. Igor Lisovsky, Ministry of Defense, “Engineer Forces: History and Current State,” Vo slavu rodini, 21 January 2009, www.vsr.mil.by; and Belarus, “ERW Database,” Discussion Paper 2/REV.1, 2008 Meeting of Experts of the States Parties to CCW Protocol V, May 2009, p. 6.

[8] Belarus, “ERW Database,” Discussion Paper 2/REV.1, 2008 Meeting of Experts of the States Parties to CCW Protocol V, May 2009, p. 3.

[9] Article 10 Report, Form E, 4 September 2009.

[10] See, for example, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, submitted in 2012.

[11] Article 10 Report, Form A, 15 March 2010.

[12] Interview with Col. Alexander Tihonov, Ministry of Defense, Minsk, 19 February 2010.

Support for Mine Action

Last updated: 19 September 2012

Belarus failed to meet its deadline of 1 March 2008 to destroy its stockpiles of antipersonnel mines. After a tender process on 21 December 2010, the European Commission (EC) awarded the Spanish company, Explosivos Alaveses (EXPAL), a 28-month contract valued at €3,900,000 (US$5,171,790).[1] Licensing and problems in importing equipment from Germany and Spain have delayed the start of the project. As of 21 May 2012, EXPAL had not destroyed any stockpiles.[2]

 



[1] EC, “Service procurement notice, UA-Kiev: ENPI — destruction of PFM-1 series ammunition in Belarus 2010/S 124-188668,” 30 June 2010; See ICBL-CMC, “Country Profile: Belarus: Mine Ban Policy,” 3 November 2011; Belarus, “Contract award notice, BY-Minsk: destruction of PFM-1 series ammunition in Belarus 2011/S 14-020376,” 21 January 2011; Information from Maria Cruz Cristobal, Mine Action Desk, Security Policy Unit, Directorate-General for External Relations, EC, through David Spence, Minister Counsellor, Delegation of the European Union to the UN in Geneva, 20 June 2011; Average exchange rate for 2010: €1=US$1.3261. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 6 January 2011.

[2] Statement of Belarus, Standing Committee Meeting on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 21 May 2012.

Casualties

Last updated: 23 January 2018

Casualty Overview

All known casualties by end 2016

6,199 mine/explosive remnants of war (ERW) casualties (2,678 killed; 3,521 injured)

Casualties in 2016

3 (2015: 2)

2016 casualties by survival outcome

1 killed; 2 injured (2015: 2 injured)

2016 casualties by device type

3 ERW

 

In 2016, there were three reported new ERW casualties in the Republic of Belarus. Two children were killed and one injured in an incident involving unexploded World War II ordnance.[1]

No landmine casualties have been reported in Belarus since 2004.

There were at least 6,199 mine/ERW casualties (2,678 killed; 3,521 injured) in Belarus from 1945 to the end of 2016.[2]

Casualties and Victim Assistance

Last updated: 22 September 2015

Casualties

Casualty Overview

All known casualties by end 2014

6,194 mine/ERW casualties (2,676 killed; 3,518 injured)

Casualties in 2014

3 (2013: 0)

2014 Casualties by outcome

1 killed; 2 injured  (2013: 0 killed)

 

In 2014, there were three reported new casualties of explosive remnants of war (ERW) in the Republic of Belarus. A man and a woman were injured in an incident involving tampering with unexploded World War II ordnance in their home in April.[1] Another man was killed while looking for World War II-era ERW in November.[2] No new casualties were identified in Belarus in 2013. In 2012, two ERW casualties were identified: a father and son were killed in a tampering incident caused by an unexploded grenade.[3] No landmine casualties have been reported in Belarus since 2004.

There were at least 6,194 mine/ERW casualties (2,676 killed; 3,518 injured) in Belarus from 1945 to the end of 2014.[4]

Victim Assistance

Most mine/ERW survivors in Belarus were injured by ERW left over from World War II or during military service in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The total number of mine/ERW survivors in Belarus is unknown, and it has not been reported how many of the 3,513 registered survivors are still alive.

There is no specific victim assistance coordination or planning in Belarus. The Ministry of Labor and Social Protection is the main government agency responsible for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities.[5] The Ministry of Health and several other agencies also had a “State Programme on Disability Prevention and Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons” for the period from 2011 to 2015.[6]

As of 1 September 2014, Belarus had not signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).



[1]В витебской квартире подорвался черный копатель” (“Black digger exploded in Vitebsk”), By24.org, 7 April 2014.

[2] “На снаряде времен Великой Отечественной войны подорвался «черный копатель» из Витебскойо” (“On the shells of the Great Patriotic War exploded ‘black diggers’ of the Vitebsk region”), Vitbichi online, 24 November 2014.

[3]В КОБРИНЕ ДВОЕ МУЖЧИН ПОДОРВАЛИСЬ НА ГРАНАТЕ” (“N Kobrin Two Men Were Blown Up By Grenade”), 5MIN.BY, 25 April 2012.

[4] CCW Protocol V Article 10 Report, Form E, 24 March 2014.

[6] Ibid., N 1126, 29 June 2010.