Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 18 October 2017


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 enacted 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 16th Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report on 30 April 2017, which covered calendar year 2016.[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 has 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.  

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 Mine Ban Treaty Meeting of States Parties and almost all the intersessional Standing Committee meetings held in Geneva since 1999, including in June 2017.

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. Since November 2015, Colombia has co-chaired 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.

The Colombian Campaign against Landmines (Campaña Colombiana contra Minas, CCCM) works to address the country’s extensive landmine problem.[8] The CCCM 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.[9] On 4 April 2017, Colombians joined the annual Remángate (“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]

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.[11]

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.[12]

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.”[13]

Colombia last destroyed or consumed mines in training activities in 2006, when 300 retained mines were destroyed in three separate events.[14]

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.”[15] It also stated that antipersonnel mines discovered during mine clearance are destroyed on site and not kept for training purposes.

Use by non-state armed groups

For the first time, Landmine Monitor has not been able to verify any new mine use by an armed opposition group in Colombia. Previously, from the inception of its reporting in 1999 until 2016, Landmine Monitor reported mine use by armed opposition groups, mainly the FARC.

On 24 November 2016, FARC-EP and the Colombian government signed an agreement to end the armed conflict and build peace, including through mine clearance.[16] Some FARC commands have reportedly not cooperated with the peace process and remain as guerrillas, but their numbers are uncertain.

On 1 October 2017, a ceasefire agreement between the government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (Unión Camilista-Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN) took effect.[17] The ceasefire is supposed to last until 9 January 2018, after which it can be renewed by mutual consent. Under “abstention” the ELN has committed not use antipersonnel landmines that could endanger the civilian population.[18]

The CCCM, which provides research to Landmine Monitor, has not recorded any new use of antipersonnel mines by any actor to the conflict in Colombia during the past year. It is possible that members of the ELN and FARC may still use antipersonnel mines, but no compelling evidence has been independently confirmed by the CCCM or Landmine Monitor.[19]

(See Mine Action profile for more information on mine clearance.)

Transfer and production by non-state armed groups

Non-state armed groups in Colombia are experts in the production of explosive devices. Both the FARC and the ELN have manufactured antipersonnel mines as well as remotely controlled improvised landmines.

Colombia’s Article 7 reports contain information on mines produced by non-state armed groups by type, dimensions, fuzing, explosive type and content, and metallic content; the reports also include photographs and additional information. Previously, at least 12 different design types were manufactured, including antipersonnel, antivehicle, and Claymore-type directional mines, as well as improvised explosive devices. The military stated that some mines were fitted with antihandling devices.[20]

Disarmament of the FARC, including destruction of its antipersonnel landmine stockpile and components occurred under UN supervision. Disarmament was completed on 22 September 2017. The UN mission destroyed 3,528 antipersonnel mines formerly belonging to the FARC, as well as components, including more than 38,000 kilograms of explosives and more than 46,000 detonators.[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.

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

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

[10] See, Ana Maria Plata, “Antioquia police and government join in Remángate,”, 4 April 2017.

[11] 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.

[12] 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.

[13] “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.

[14] In 2003–2004, Colombia reported it retained 986 mines for training. In 2005, it reduced that number to 886. In 2006, Colombia destroyed 300 more mines, but the number retained has not changed since December 2006. See, Landmine Monitor Report 2007, pp. 267–268; and Landmine Monitor Report 2006, pp. 302–303.

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

[16] Acuerdo Final para la Terminación del Conflicto y la Construcción de una Paz Estable y Duradera, numeral, Bogotá, 24 November 2016.

[17]Colombia Cease-Fire Agreement Takes Effect Sunday,” Voice of America, 30 September 2017.

[18] See, “Acuerdo y comunicado sobre el cese al fuego bilateral y temporal entre el Gobierno y el ELN,” Oficina del alto comisionando para la paz, Quito, 4 September 2017.

[19] For example, the Colombian army seized antipersonnel mines from the ELN in July 2017 so members of the group may still use them. See, “Hostigamiento del Eln en Cundinamarca dejó un policía herido,” RED+, Bogotá, 22 July 2017.

[20] 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.

[21]Misión de la ONU concluyó hoy la inhabilitación de armas de las Farc,” Radio Nacional de Colombia, 22 September 2017.