Venezuela

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 25 June 2019

Summary: Non-signatory Venezuela adopted the convention in 2008, but it has not taken any steps to accede to it. Venezuela voted in favor of a key United Nations (UN) resolution on the convention in December 2018.

Venezuela is not known to have used, produced, or exported cluster munitions, but it imported them and destroyed an unspecified quantity in August 2011.

Policy

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has not yet acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Venezuela has never commented on its lack of accession to the convention. In 2011, Venezuela said, “a binding tool leading us to a prohibition of the use, stockpiling, [and] transfer…would be the ideal” to address the humanitarian concerns raised by cluster munitions. [1]

Venezuela participated in several meetings of the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It joined in the consensus adoption of the convention text in Dublin on 30 May 2008, but expressed opposition to the convention’s Article 21 provisions on “interoperability” (relations with states not party), which it said “[undermines] the spirit and purpose” of the convention. [2]

Venezuela participated as an observer in the convention’s the Second Meeting of States Parties in Beirut, Lebanon in September 2011. This was its first and, to date, only attendance in a meeting of the convention.

Venezuela voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution in December 2018, which urges states outside of the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.” [3] It has voted in favor of the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

Venezuela is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

Venezuela is not known to have used, produced, or exported cluster munitions.

In 2011, the Ministry of the Popular Power for the Defense of Venezuela announced the destruction of an unspecified number of cluster munitions belonging to the air force. [4] The cluster munitions, including Israeli-made AS TAL-1 cluster bombs, were destroyed at Fort Caribbean in El Pao, Cojedes as part an operation to destroy surplus ammunition and ordnance.

It is not clear if Venezuela has more cluster munitions stockpiled. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has reported that Israel exported the LAR-160 surface-to-surface rocket system to Venezuela, but it is not known if ammunition containing submunitions was included in the deal. [5]



 [1] Statement of Venezuela, Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Fourth Review Conference, Geneva, 24 November 2011. Notes by Action on Armed Violence.

 [2] For more information on Venezuela’s policy and practice regarding cluster munitions through early 2010, see ICBL, Cluster Munition Monitor 2010 (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2010), pp. 267–268.

 [3]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 73/54, 5 December 2018.  

 [4] "The Ministry of Defense of Venezuela destroys cluster bombs” (“El Ministerio de la Defensa de Venezuela destruye bombas de racimo”), Infodefensa.com, 26 August 2011.

 [5] SIPRI, “Arms Transfers Database.” Recipient report for Israel for the period 1950–2011, generated on 6 June 2012. Chile has reported once possessing the LAR-160 rocket systems with warheads that contain submunitions.


Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 02 November 2011

Commitment to the Mine Ban Treaty

Mine Ban Treaty status

State Party

National implementation measures

Has not drafted new implementation measures

Transparency reporting

April 2011

Policy

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997 and ratified on 14 April 1999, becoming a State Party on 1 October 1999.

Venezuela has not adopted national implementation legislation stipulating penal sanctions for treaty violations, maintaining that domestic legislation to implement the Mine Ban Treaty is not necessary because international treaties ratified by the government automatically become national law.[1]

In April 2011, Venezuela submitted its annual Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report for the period from April 2010 to April 2011.Venezuela has provided eight previous reports.[2] 

On 21 September 2009, the Ministry of People’s Power for Defense (Ministerio del Poder Popular para la Defensa) issued Resolution 012281 to create a demining committee in the National Armed Forces.[3]

Venezuela attended the Tenth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in Geneva in November–December 2010 and intersessional Standing Committee meetings in June 2011, where it made statements on mine clearance.

Venezuela is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II on landmines. Venezuela has never submitted an annual report as required by the protocol’s Article 13. Venezuela is not party to CCW Protocol V on explosive remnants of war.

Use

Venezuela has reported that it laid 1,074 antipersonnel mines around six naval bases between April 1995 and March 1997, one of which was subsequently accidentally detonated.[4] In 2007, Venezuela made statements indicating that it was still making active use of these emplaced antipersonnel mines, which is inconsistent with the Article 1 ban on use.[5] During 2007 and 2008, the ICBL repeatedly stated its concern that Venezuela was purposefully keeping its antipersonnel mines in place in order to derive military benefit from them, and was not, as required by the treaty, clearing them as soon as possible.[6]

Since 2008, Venezuela has stressed other factors—such as dense vegetation, rough weather, and safety concerns—to explain why it has not yet cleared its antipersonnel mines (see the Mine Action section of this Country Profile).[7]  In June 2008, Venezuela stated that it was not using mines for defensive purposes, even though there are still “anti-state actors” across its border with Colombia.[8] In June 2011, Venezuela said it would complete clearance ahead of its revised deadline, in the first quarter of 2013.[9]

The Colombian rebel group the National Liberation Army (Unión Camilista-Ejército de Liberación Nacional, ELN), a known producer and user of antipersonnel mines, appears to  maintain a presence in Venezuela. In October 2009, the governor of the Venezuelan state of Tachira said that four ELN camps exist inside Tachira.[10] Mine incidents attributed to the ELN have taken place very close to the border on the Colombian side.[11]

Production, transfer, stockpiling, and destruction

Venezuela has stated that it has not produced antipersonnel mines.[12] It is not known to have exported antipersonnel mines. Venezuela previously obtained antipersonnel mines manufactured by Belgium, Italy, Spain, the United States, and the former Yugoslavia.[13]

Venezuela completed destruction of its stockpile of 47,189 antipersonnel mines on 24 September 2003.[14] It has never specified the types of antipersonnel mines that were destroyed.[15]

In its April 2011 Article 7 report, Venezuela stated that it is retaining 4,874 PMA-3 antipersonnel mines for training and development purposes, held by the Ministry of Defense.[16] This is 86 mines fewer than previously reported.[17] According to the report, the army destroyed 86 PMA-3 mines (lot numbers 02-88) on 27 October 2010 and 13 November 2010 in training exercises that involved manual demining and minefield breeching.[18] In November 2010, Venezuela declared that it intends to destroy another 300 mines in similar exercises in 2011.[19]

 



[1] Venezuela restated this view forcefully during the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in June 2008, in response to an ICRC presentation on Article 9 (national implementation measures). Venezuela said that all ratified international treaties are of the highest domestic legal standing—that of the constitution. The ICRC replied that a specific law was still desirable for various Mine Ban Treaty provisions, such as the Article 3 exception for retained mines and Article 8 provisions on fact-finding missions. Oral Remarks by Venezuela, Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention, Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 6 June 2008. Notes by the Monitor.

[2] Venezuela submitted previous reports in April 2010, on 6 July 2009, in April 2008, in April 2007, on 26 April 2006, 4 July 2005, 1 May 2003, and 10 September 2002. It also submitted a one-page letter to the UN on 25 November 2003, confirming completion of stockpile destruction. The initial report, due 1 March 2000, was two-and-a-half years late.

[3] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form A, April 2010.

[4] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form I, April 2008; and email from Yaneth Arocha, First Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 28 June 2005. The 1,073 number (1,074 minus the accidental detonation) is the number used in the Article 7 reports submitted in 2008, 2007, 2006, and 2005, which was a revised total from the figure of 1,036 used in the report submitted in 2003. Venezuela has reported different dates of emplacement in Article 7 reports. Most notably, Venezuela reported mines were last laid in March 1997 in its Article 7 report submitted on 26 April 2006 while the Article 7 report submitted on 1 May 2003 reports that mines were last laid in May 1998, the latter date being five months after Venezuela signed the Mine Ban Treaty.

[5] For more details, see Landmine Monitor Report 2008, pp. 740–741.

[6] Statement of ICBL, Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention, Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 27 April 2007. The ICBL repeated these concerns in a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, dated 18 July 2007, in statements at the Eighth Meeting of States Parties on 18 and 22 November 2007, and in several meetings with Venezuelan officials during 2007.

[7] See Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 28 March 2008; Mien Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form I, April 2008; statement of Venezuela, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 4 June 2008; statement of Venezuela, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 27 May 2009; and statement of Venezuela, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 22 June 2010.

[8] Statement of Venezuela, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 4 June 2008.

[9] Statement of Venezuela, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education, and Mine Action Technologies, Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 20–22 June 2011. Notes by the ICBL.

[10] Ashley Hamer, “ELN has four guerrilla camps in Venezuela: Governor Monday,” Colombia Reports, 26 October 2009, colombiareports.com.

[11] “4 Soldiers killed, 2 civilians wounded in Colombia mine field,” EFE News Service (Bogota), 17 May 2009.

[12] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form H, April 2008; and previous Article 7 reports.

[13] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form B, 1 May 2003.

[14] Letter from the Permanent Mission of Venezuela to the UN in Geneva, to the UN Conference on Disarmament Secretariat, 25 November 2003. The 47,189 mines were more than previously reported as held in stock. In September 2002, Venezuela reported a stockpile of 22,136 antipersonnel mines, but in May 2003 reported a revised total of 46,136 antipersonnel mines. See Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Reports, Form B, 1 May 2003; and Form B, 10 September 2002.

[15] Venezuela’s 1 May 2003 Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form B, listed the types and quantities for 46,136 mines still held in stock.

[16] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form D, April 2011.

[17]  In its Article 7 reports issued in the period from 2004 to 2010, Venezuela reported a total of 4,960 PMA-3 antipersonnel mines.

[18] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form F, April 2011.

[19] Statement of Venezuela, Tenth Meeting of States Parties, Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 29 November–3 December 2010.


Mine Action

Last updated: 28 August 2014

Contamination and Impact

Mines

On 27 May 2013 at the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela reported it had cleared all the mined areas remaining and was mine-free[1] and subsequently made a formal declaration of completion of its Article 5 obligations at the Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties in December 2013.[2]

Venezuela’s mine contamination was the result of antipersonnel mine emplacement by its armed forces at six naval bases near Río Arauca in the Amazon region along its border with Colombia in 1995–1997. After an attack on 25 February 1995 on the naval post in Cararabo, Apure state, allegedly by non-state armed groups operating across the border from Colombia, Venezuela laid 1,073 mines in 13 minefields around six naval posts in Cararabo, Guafitas, Isla Vapor, Puerto Páez, Río Arauca, and San Fernando de Atabapo. The total mined area was reported to be 180,000m2.

The maps and photographs in Venezuela’s Article 5 deadline extension request clearly showed the locations and terrain of the mined areas.[3] The bases are located on a floodplain in dense vegetation and in an isolated part of Venezuela.[4]

Venezuela’s landmine problem[5]

Location of Mined Area

Number of Mined Areas

Number of Mines

Contaminated Area (m2)

Status

Puesto Naval Fronterizo, Guafitas, Estado Apure

3

57

20,000

Completed

AF. Clemente Maldonado, San Fernando de Atabapo, Estado Amazona

3

299

20,000

Completed

AF. Manuel Echeveria, Cararabo, Estado Apure

3

316

40,000

Completed

Puesto Naval Fronterizo, Puerto Paez, Estado Apure

2

281

40,000

Completed

Puesto Naval Fronterizo, Rio Arauca International, Estado Apure

1

77

20,000

Completed

Puesto Naval Fronterizo, Isla Vapor, Estado Apure

1

43

40,000

Completed

Total

13

1,073

180,000

Completed

Mine Action Program

The mine action program is under the sole control of the Ministry of Defense with no civilian oversight.[6]

Land Release

Venezuela was extremely slow to release its relatively small mined area. Even though Venezuela became a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty in 1999, it was not until October 2010 (during clearance covering 20,000m2) that Venezuela cleared its first mine, at Rio Arauca. Similar clearance was conducted in 2011, but Venezuela cited flooding as the reason for not meeting its 2012 targets.[7] By December 2011, Venezuela had released 40,000m2 or 22% of the 180,000m2 of mined area. In May 2012, Venezuela reported it was unable to complete the clearance at the navy base and four other mined areas covering another 40,000m2 due to flooding.[8] Clearance resumed in February 2013 as planned and, by the end of March 2013, Venezuela completed clearance in the four areas begun in 2012 in addition to the three remaining mined areas at Isla Vapor, San Fernando de Atabapo, and Cararabo (where 658 Yugoslavia-made PMA-3 were found in the three areas).

Clearance results 2012–2013

Location of Mined Area

Number of Mined Areas

Number of Mines

Contaminated Area (m2)

AF. Manuel Echeveria, Cararabo, Estado Apure

3

316

40,000

AF. Clemente Maldonado, San Fernando de Atabapo, Estado Amazona

3

299

20,000

Puesto Naval Fronterizo, Puerto Paez, Estado Apure

2

23

40,000

Puesto Naval Fronterizo, Isla Vapor, Estado Apure

1

43

40,000

Total

9

681

140,000

In total, Venezuela reported having cleared 1,073 antipersonnel mines emplaced in 13 mined areas around six naval posts in order to complete its Article 5 obligations. Venezuela’s mine action efforts were reported as entirely funded nationally.[9]

Article 5 Compliance

Under Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty (and in accordance with the five-year extension to its deadline granted by the Ninth Meeting of States Parties in 2008), Venezuela was required to destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, but not later than 1 October 2014.

The Ninth Meeting of States Parties that granted Venezuela the five-year extension noted that “with speedy establishment of a demining program and acquisition of mechanical demining assets, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) may find itself in a situation wherein it could complete implementation before October 2014 and that this could benefit the Convention.”[10] Indeed, in December 2010, Venezuela had said that new procurement procedures for demining equipment should allow the total additional time needed to clear all mined areas from its original Article 5 deadline to be reduced from five years to four, and that the clearance of all mined areas should be completed by June 2013.[11]

On 27 May 2013 at the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Venezuela reported it had cleared all the remaining mined areas and was mine-free.[12] The following December, Venezuela made a formal declaration of compliance with its Article 5 obligations under the Mine Ban Treaty at the Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva.[13]

 



[1] Statement of Venezuela, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 27 May 2013 (in Spanish).

[2] Statement of Venezuela, Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 4 December 2013.

[3] See Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 28 March 2008, Annexes 5 and 6.

[5] The table is based on information contained in Venezuela’s Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 reports covering 2010 and 2011. Statement of Venezuela, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee Meeting on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 22 May 2012 (in Spanish).

[7] Statement of Venezuela, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee Meeting on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 22 May 2012 (in Spanish).

[8] Ibid.

[9] See statement of Venezuela, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 27 May 2013; statement of Venezuela, Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 4 December 2013; and Press Release, “Venezuela complies with its anti-landmines obligations,” 4 December 2013. 

[10] Decision on Venezuela’s Article 5 deadline Extension Request, Mine Ban Treaty Ninth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 28 November 2008.

[11] Statement of Venezuela, Mine Ban Treaty Tenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 1 December 2010 (in Spanish).

[12] Statement of Venezuela, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 27 May 2013 (in Spanish).

[13] Statement of Venezuela, Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 4 December 2013.


Support for Mine Action

Last updated: 30 October 2013

The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela stated in its Article 5 deadline extension request in 2008 that it would assume the full costs of its mine clearance and that funds would be allocated in Venezuela’s annual budget. The request included a budget of VEF30 million (US$14 million) to clear 13 mined areas by 2014.[1] Since then, Venezuela’s currency has significantly devalued; in 2012, VEF30 million was the equivalent of just $7 million.[2] Venezuela completed clearance of mined areas in May 2013 but did not report the costs of the clearance.[3]

 



[1] Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 31 March 2008, p. 4. Average exchange rate for 2008: VEF2.14=US$1. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 3 January 2012.

[2] Average exchange rate for 2012: VEF4.29=US$1. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 3 January 2012.

[3] Statement of Venezuela, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Geneva, 27 May 2013.