United Kingdom

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 15 September 2021

Summary

State Party the United Kingdom (UK) enacted implementation legislation for the convention before it ratified on 4 May 2010. It has participated in all of the convention’s Meetings of States Parties and intersessional meetings, and will serve as president of the Tenth Meeting of States Parties. The UK has condemned the use of cluster munitions, including in Syria and Yemen. It has elaborated its views on several important issues relating to the convention’s interpretation and implementation.

The UK produced, exported, imported, and used cluster munitions prior to joining the convention. In December 2013, the UK completed the destruction of a stockpile of 190,828 cluster munitions and 38.7 million submunitions. The UK discovered some previously unknown cluster munition stocks in 2020 which it destroyed in December of the same year The UK initially retained cluster munitions for research and training purposes, but has not done so since 2013.

Policy

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008, ratified on 4 May 2010, and the convention entered into force for the country on 1 November 2010.

The Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act 2010 serves as the UK’s implementing legislation for the Convention on Cluster Munitions, providing penal and financial sanctions for violations of its provisions.[1] The UK has classified cluster munitions in the highest category of prohibited exports under its Export Control Order of 2008.[2]

In March 2015, the UK government published a “Command Paper” prepared by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that provides “post-legislative scrutiny of the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act 2010” to assess how the legislation has worked in practice. The Command Paper was presented to parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee as well as the Committees on Arms Export Controls.[3] It concluded that there are “no outstanding legal issues” regarding the UK’s implementation of the Act.[4]

The UK submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report for the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 28 April 2011 and has provided annual updated reports ever since, most recently in April 2021.

The UK participated throughout the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Just before the conclusion of the negotiations in Dublin in May 2008, the UK changed its position to support a ban on all cluster munitions, a decision that had significant impact in influencing support in other countries for the convention text.[5]

The UK engages in the work of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It has participated in every Meeting of States Parties of the convention, most recently the first part of the convention’s Second Review Conference held virtually in November 2020, where it provided an update on previously unknown stocks of cluster munitions.[6] The UK also attended all of the convention’s intersessional meetings in Geneva in 2011–2015. The UK will serve as President of the Tenth Meeting of States Parties to be held in 2022.

Promotion of the convention

The UK has promoted universalization of the Convention on Cluster Munitions. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s 2014 report on human rights and democracy states that in 2015, the UK “will continue to work diplomatically to pursue the goal of a world free of the suffering and casualties caused by anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions, by encouraging all states to refrain from the use of such weapons.”[7]

In May 2015, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office informed the Monitor that “the UK has raised the issue of accession to the Convention with a number of States not Party at various points throughout [2014].” It reported that the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister for Defence and International Security, Tobias Ellwood MP, hosted a reception in London on 25 March 2015 to encourage states to join the convention. According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a number of non-signatory states attended the reception, during which Ellwood encouraged their accession and “spoke about the UK’s decision to come down on the side of a prohibition, having weighed up the humanitarian and security factors.”[8]

In December 2020, the UK voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution that urges states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[9] It has voted in favor of the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

On 10 February 2015, government spokesperson, Baroness Anelay of St Johns, expressed the UK’s concern at “recent reports of the use of cluster munitions in eastern Ukraine” and affirmed the need to “bring to book those responsible for human rights abuses.”[10] In response to a parliamentary question later that month on the cluster munition rocket attacks in eastern Ukraine, Anelay noted the government of Ukraine’s denial that its armed forces used cluster munitions and affirmed that “cluster munitions should in no circumstances be used intentionally to target civilians.” Anelay called on the parties to the conflict in Ukraine to abide by international humanitarian law and called on Ukraine and Russia to accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[11] In April 2015, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office official also cited the Ukraine government’s denial of cluster munition use and repeated in a letter to CMC UK member Article 36 that “cluster munitions should in no circumstances be used to target civilians.”[12]

The UK has vigorously and repeatedly condemned cluster munition use by the Syrian government since 2012.[13] It has voted in favor of UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2020.[14] The UK has voted in favor of similar Human Rights Council resolutions condemning the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most in April 2020.[15]

The UK also led a resolution adopted unanimously by the that UN Security Council on 29 June 2015, which expresses concern at evidence of cluster munition use in Darfur and calls on the government of Sudan to “immediately investigate the use of cluster munitions.”[16] On 27 May 2014, the UK voted in favor of a UN Security Council resolution that noted “with serious concern reports of the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions” in Jonglei, South Sudan in February 2014 and urged “all parties to refrain from similar such use in the future.”[17]

On 15 March 2015, the UK’s representative to Libya, Ambassador Michael Aron, described evidence of new use of cluster bombs in Libya as “deeply disturbing.”[18]

In December 2016, the UK condemned the use of cluster munitions in Yemen by the Saudi-led coalition.[19] The UK has not expressed concern over new use of cluster munitions at recent Meetings of States Parties. At the UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in October 2019, the UK stated it “remains deeply concerned by reports of the indiscriminate use of cluster munitions.”[20]

The CMC has previously expressed concern at a lack of consistency in the UK’s approach to how states that are part of the Convention on Cluster Munitions collectively respond to new use of cluster munitions. At a preparatory meeting for the convention’s First Review Conference in Geneva on 24 June 2015, the UK proposed watering down language condemning the use of cluster munitions in draft documents prepared for the First Review Conference.[21]

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

Interpretive issues

The UK elaborated its views on the interpretation and implementation of a number of key provisions in the convention during the process of preparing its national legislation and in the period since with respect to the prohibitions on foreign stockpiling, transit, investment in cluster munition producers, and assistance with prohibited acts in joint military operations. A number of ministerial statements are on record clarifying the meaning of the UK’s national legislation on these issues and recognizing the positive obligations under the convention.[22] Additionally,in late 2010, several parliamentary questions were raised in response to reports in the British media based on United States (US) Department of State cables made public by Wikileaks.

Foreign stockpiling

In June 2008, immediately after the adoption of the convention, the UK stated it would seek the removal of foreign stockpiles of cluster munitions from UK territories within the eight-year period allowed for stockpile destruction in the convention.[23] In December 2009, the government stated that the US had identified the cluster munitions on UK territory as “exceeding operational planning requirements” and that they would be “gone from the UK itself by the end of [2010]” and “gone from other UK territories, including Diego Garcia, by the end of 2013.”[24] In 2010, the UK announced that there were now “no foreign stockpiles of cluster munitions in the UK or on any UK territory.”[25]

The March 2015 Command Paper finds that the UK’s Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act “allows for the extension of its provisions to any of the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, and any British overseas territory” but states that its application has only been extended to include the Isle of Man to date.[26] Therefore the UK has not applied its national legislation to the full extent possible, maintaining the possibility of acts being permitted in certain British overseas territories that would be prohibited on the mainland UK. This could represent a loophole by which foreign stocks of cluster munitions could return to the UK’s overseas territories in the future.

Transit

In March 2010, UK parliamentarians asked if “transit” of cluster munitions through UK territory is prohibited under the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act 2010. The government stated that transit “would not in itself be prohibited, but a direct application would have to be made to the Secretary of State who would have to grant permission before it could happen. We would be reluctant to grant such permission.”[27]

In December 2010, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Defence said that under Section 8 of the UK’s legislation, the Foreign Secretary may grant authorization for visiting forces of states not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “possess cluster munitions on, or transfer them through, UK territory.”[28] In 2011, a Minister of State clarified that this provision had been used only once, and that was to grant the US a temporary extension to keep cluster munitions on UK territory as it underwent the process of removing all remaining stockpiles.[29]

A US Department of State cable dated 21 May 2009 and made public by Wikileaks in 2010 stated that the head of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Security Policy Group had “reconfirmed” to US officials that “off-shore storage” of cluster munitions “on US ships would still be permitted” until 2013, and by temporary exception.[30] In response to a parliamentary question on the cable, the previous Labour government minister responsible for the legislation said that “it was our complete intention that there would be no American cluster munitions on British territories anywhere in the world.”[31]

According to the Command Paper, the UK’s Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act has been extended to the overseas territory of the Isle of Man but not other overseas territories. Therefore it is technically possible that authorization by the Foreign Secretary would not be necessary for the transit or transfer of cluster munitions by visiting forces through other UK overseas territories, such as Diego Garcia.[32]

Interoperability

The convention’s Article 21 provisions on interoperability, the issue of joint military operations with states not party that use cluster munitions, are addressed in Clause 9 of the UK’s national legislation.[33] In 2011, the UK stated that its interpretation of Article 21 is that “notwithstanding the provisions of Article 1 [prohibition on assistance], Article 21(3) allows States Parties to participate in military operations and cooperation with non-States Parties who may use cluster munitions. UK law and operational practice reflect this.”[34]

During the development of the UK’s implementation legislation, parliamentarians expressed concern that this clause would provide a loophole that would undermine the purpose of the convention and of the UK’s legislation, which is the elimination of cluster munitions.[35] When pushed by members of parliament to clarify just exactly what activities this clause would permit UK troops engaged in joint military operations to do, the government responded that UK troops “would not be allowed to request use of [cluster] munitions where the choice of munitions was within their exclusive control” but that “they could facilitate operations where [cluster munitions] might be used by a partner.”[36]

Parliamentarians argued that there would likely be situations that, while not illegal under the bill, would clearly be against the spirit and intention of the legislation and pressed the government on the need to develop proper guidelines and briefings for the UK military.[37] The government responded that “States Parties have to make sure that any other state with which they are working understands the basis on which their personnel will be engaged,” and added, “We have to make sure there is clear guidance for personnel, so they know exactly what they can and cannot do. That is already in hand.”[38] A significant result of the parliamentary debates on interoperability and Clause 9 was the recognition by the government of the need to promote universal adherence to the convention.

The Monitor requested information from the UK in 2015 on how it was engaging in the Iraq portion of the joint “Operation Inherent Resolve” against forces of Islamic State (IS) (or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL) with the US and other states that have not banned cluster munitions. In May 2015, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office responded:

The prohibition on the UK’s use of cluster munitions is reflected in our operational targeting policy documents which outline how UK armed forces will operate, including with coalition partners. Restrictions on the use of weapons and national caveats imposed during coalition operations are a normal part of coalition operations. These directives include the national, operationally-specific, rules of engagement profiles and national caveats which will ensure that any action is within the parameters of UK law. Furthermore, a Chief of the Defence Staff’s Directive is issued to all UK personnel embedded with coalition forces explaining the UK legal position and how this affects their individual responsibilities in all matters including targeting.[39]

During the 2011 NATO military operation in Libya, Foreign Secretary William Hague informed the UK parliament that “we and our North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies do not use cluster munitions.”[40] NATO confirmed that its forces did not use cluster munitions during the Libya operation in its formal response to a UN Commission of Inquiry.[41]

Advertising of cluster munitions at UK arms fairs

The 2010 Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act makes it an offense for a person to “make arrangements under which another person acquires a prohibited munition,” “to make arrangements under which another person transfers a prohibited munition,” or to “assist, encourage or induce” any other person to engage in prohibited acts.

Concerns have been raised in the past about the promotion of cluster munitions by exhibitors at the annual Defence Systems and Equipment International Exhibitions (DSEi) in London. In 2009 and 2011, the Pakistan Ordnance Factory stand and Pakistan’s Defence Export Promotion Organization pavilion at the DSEi in London displayed promotional materials advertising their cluster munitions.[42] Exhibitor information regarding “compliance” for the exhibition in September 2013 emphasized that it is prohibited to exhibit “non-unitary munitions” except those excluded from prohibition under the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[43] No advertisement of cluster munitions was reported at the 2013 exhibition.

The 2015 Command Paper does not include any reference to the advertising of cluster munitions at UK arms fairs in 2009 and 2011.[44]

Investment

While direct investment in cluster munitions is considered prohibited by Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act under the prohibition on assistance, the issue of indirect investments is not addressed. In 2011, the UK government recognized the need for further work to address “the problem of remote financing” and said that it had set up a working group to look into the matter.[45] As of June 2020, the status of the working group is unknown.

In 2011, Under Secretary of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Alistair Burt stated that “indirect financing, including investments in companies that may produce cluster munitions alongside a range of other items and services, is an issue for individual institutions to consider under their own investment charters and social corporate responsibility agendas.”[46] There have been no parliamentary statements since that would suggest further action by the government to address investment in cluster munition manufacturers.

The 2015 Command Paper specifically highlights that the 2010 implementing legislation “did not prohibit indirect financing of cluster munitions production.”[47]

In March 2015, an opposition member asked the government a series of parliamentary questions about investment in cluster munition producers, including the adequacy of existing legislation, the possibility of enacting specific legislation to ban such investment, the ability of pension schemes to invest indirectly in cluster munition manufacture, and whether guidance could be issued to help pension schemes avoid such investment.[48] The government responded that there were no plans to review this specific area of pensions investments.[49]

Financial institutions have responded to public pressure and campaigning actions by NGOs calling for disinvestment from cluster munition manufacturers. A 2018 report on worldwide investment in cluster munitions published by CMC member PAX identified US$14.4 million invested by UK financial institutions in companies that manufacture cluster munitions between January 2015 and April 2018.[50] It listed two UK financial institutions as implicated in investing in companies that produce cluster munitions.[51]

Use

As a State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the UK has foresworn any use of cluster munitions, but in the past the UK used cluster munitions extensively, including in the Falkland Islands/Malvinas in 1982, in Iraq and Kuwait in 1991, in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (including Kosovo) in 1999, and in Iraq in 2003.[52]

Production and transfer

The UK produced, exported, and imported cluster munitions in the past and has declared that it now has no facilities to produce cluster munitions.[53]

The UK produced several variants of the BL-755 bomb with 147 submunitions and also produced the L20A1 artillery projectile with 49 M85 dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions under license from Israel Military Industries.[54]

BL-755 cluster bombs were exported to, or were otherwise finally possessed by, the following countries: Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Croatia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, and the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.[55]

In 2015–2016, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen used BL755 cluster munitions made by the United Kingdom.[56] In December 2016, Saudi Arabia committed to stop using these UK-produced cluster munitions.[57] According to the UK, it last transferred BL755 cluster munitions to Saudi Arabia in 1989.[58]

The UK also imported cluster munitions from the US: M483 155mm artillery projectiles, M26 rockets for the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), M261 Multi-Purpose Submunition (MPSM) rocket warheads used with CRV-7 air-to-surface launchers, and CBU-87 cluster bombs.[59]

Cluster Munition Monitor 2011 reported in detail on the ambiguous status of the “Starstreak” high-velocity missile, produced by Thales Air Defence Limited, with respect to the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the UK’s Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act.[60]

Stockpile destruction

The UK once stockpiled a total of 190,828 cluster munitions and 38,758,898 submunitions, as listed in the following table.[61]

Cluster munitions formerly stockpiled by the UK[62]

Type

Quantity of cluster munitions

Quantity of submunitions

BL755 bomb, each containing 147 No2 Mk1 submunitions

2,393

351,771

IBL755 bomb, each containing 147 No2 Mk1 submunitions

4

588

RBL755 bomb, each containing 147 No2 Mk1 submunitions

1,290

189,630

M261 rocket, each containing 9 M73 submunitions

4,571

41,139

M483 projectile, each containing 88 M42/M46 submunitions

82,900

7,295,200

M26 rocket, each containing 644 M77 submunitions

43,692

28,137,648

L20A1 projectile, each containing 49 M85 submunitions

55,978

2,742,922

Total

190,828

38,758,898

 

Under Article 3 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the UK was required to declare and destroy or ensure the destruction of all stockpiled cluster munitions under its jurisdiction and control as soon as possible, but no later than 1 November 2018.

On 17 December 2013, the UK completed the destruction of the stockpile, five years in advance of the treaty-mandated deadline.[63] The UK announced the completion at the convention’s intersessional meetings in April 2014 and the Fifth Meeting of States Parties in September 2014. It also declared the completion of the stockpile destruction in its April 2014 Article 7 report.

The stockpile was transferred and then destroyed at facilities in Germany, Italy, and Norway.[64] In April 2014, the UK reported that the total cost of the stockpile destruction was “around £40 million,” or US$66 million.[65]

On 15 December 2020, the UK reported the destruction of 44 submunitions from previously unknown cluster munition stocks.[66] However, the reported munitions are comprised of four cluster munitions and 136 submunitions.[67]

In November 2020, the UK told States Parties that it had discovered previously unknown stocks comprised of “four 120mm High Explosive Anti-Tank (HEAT) Mortar bombs, each containing 24 bomblets, as well as two boxes each containing 40 BL755 Warheads, which were formerly used in the UK’s 600 lb Cluster Bomb.”[68] According to the statement, a “private British organization” alerted the Ministry of Defence in June 2020, after it discovered the munitions at an unspecified location.

Retention

Since 2013, the UK has reported that it does not have any cluster munitions or submunitions for training or research purposes and “has no immediate plans to acquire and retain sub-munitions for permitted purposes, but reserves the right to do so.”[69]

Previously, in 2011 and 2012, the UK reported that it was retaining 956 explosive submunitions of four types.[70] In 2013, it reported that the retained submunitions had been destroyed by demolition “because of concerns over condition, packaging and storage.”[71]

 


[1] House of Lords, Hansard, (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO), 25 March 2010), Column 1057; and “Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act 2010, Chapter 11.” A person guilty of an offense under this section is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years, or a fine, or both. For analysis of the legislation, see ICBL, Cluster Munition Monitor 2010 (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2010), pp. 109–111. See also Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form A, 28 April 2011.

[2] Statement of the UK, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Meeting of States Parties, Vientiane, 12 November 2010. Notes by the CMC; and statement by Viscount Younger of Leckie (Conservative),House of Lords Debate (London: HMSO, 25 March 2014), Column 27WS.

[3] Statement by Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, House of Lords Debate (London: HMSO, 3 March 2015), Column WS.

[4] Foreign and Commonwealth Office, “Command Paper Cm9021: Post–legislative scrutiny of the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act 2010,” presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs by Command of Her Majesty, 5 March 2015.

[5] Statement by Gordon Brown, Prime Minister, “Breakthrough on cluster bombs draws closer,” 28 May 2008. For more details on the UK’s cluster munition policy and practice through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 173–180.

[6] Statement of the United Kingdom, Convention on Cluster Munitions Second Review Conference (held virtually), Geneva, 25–27 November 2020.

[7] Foreign and Commonwealth Office, “Human Rights and Democracy Report 2014,” 12 March 2015.

[8] “Response to Cluster Munition Monitor” document attached to email from Jeremy Wilmshurst, Conventional Arms Policy Officer, Arms Export Policy Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 15 May 2015.

[9]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 75/62, 7 December 2020.

[10] Statement by Baroness Anelay of St Johns, House of Lords Debate (London: HMSO, 10 February 2015), Column 1117.

[11] Statement by Baroness Anelay of St Johns, House of Lords Debate, (London: HMSO, 24 February 2015), Column W.

[12] Letter from the Private Secretary to the Rt Hon David Lidington, to Thomas Nash, Director, Article 36, 10 April 2015.

[13] Statement of the UK, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 23 October 2012; statement by Baroness Warsi, Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, House of Lords Debate, Hansard, (London: HMSO, 19 December 2012), Column WA325; House of Commons Debate, Hansard, (London: HMSO, 20 May 2013), Column 903; and House of Commons Debate, Hansard, (London: HMSO 10 January 2013), Column 483. On 22 October 2013, the UK hosted a meeting of the “London 11” group of Friends on Syria that issued a communiqué calling on the Syrian regime to “end the siege of urban areas and the indiscriminate attacks against civilians, in particular through air bombardment and the use of ballistic missiles, cluster bombs and explosive barrels.” The London 11 Core Group of the Friends of Syria that met in London on 22 October 2013 to discuss Syria was comprised of 11 states: four States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (France, Germany, Italy, UK), and seven states not party (Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and the United States). London 11 Final Communiqué. In a February 2014 statement on Syria, the UK Foreign Secretary commented that “bombardment of civilian areas with barrel bombs continues unabated, and there are reports of attacks with cluster munitions as well.” See statement by William Hague, Foreign Secretary, “Foreign Secretary Statement to Parliament on Ukraine, Syria, and Iran,” Oral Statement to Parliament, 24 February 2014.

[14]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 75/193, 16 December 2020. The UK voted in favor of similar resolutions in 2013–2019.

[15]The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic,” Human Rights Council Resolution 43/28, 29 June 2020. The UK voted in favor of similar Human Rights Council resolutions in 2014–2019. .

[16] The five permanent members of the UN Security Council voted for the resolution in addition to non-permanent members Angola, Chad, Chile, Jordan, Lithuania, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Spain, and Venezuela.

[17] Argentina, Australia, Chad, Chile, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Nigeria, Rwanda, and South Korea. See UN Security Council Press Statement, “Security Council, Adopting Resolution 2155 (2014), extends mandate of mission in South Sudan,” 27 May 2014.

[18] Michael Aron (@HMAMichaelAron), “Deeply disturbing report by ‪@HRW with evidence of recent use of cluster bombs in ‪#Libya: http://linkis.com/www.hrw.org/news/201/qrldg,” 05:02am, 15 March 2015, Tweet.

[19] Rowena Mason, “UK cluster bombs used in Yemen by Saudi Arabia, finds research,” The Guardian, 19 December 2016.

[20] Statement of the UK, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 23 October 2019.

[21] The UK requested that the drafts express “concern” rather than “deplore” or express “great distress” at new use of cluster munitions. It also stated that not all instances of cluster munition use have been “confirmed” and that the countries where cluster munitions have been used do not need to be named in the draft documents as it could deter states from joining the convention. Statement of the UK, Second Preparatory Meetings for the First Review Conference of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Geneva, 24 June 2015. Notes by Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) and HRW. At a 9 July 2015 meeting to receive input on the revised draft documents, the UK continued to request that references to cluster munition use be qualified with the addition of “alleged” and “allegations” and also requested that countries where cluster munitions have been used not be named in the documents.

[22] See ICBL, Cluster Munition Monitor 2010 (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2010), pp. 109–111.

[23] Statement by Lord George Mark Malloch-Brown, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, House of Lords Debate, Hansard, (London: HMSO, 3 June 2008), Column 79.

[24] Statement by Baroness Glenys Kinnock, House of Lords Debate, Hansard, (London: HMSO, 8 December 2009), Column 1020; and statement by Chris Bryant, House of Commons Debate, Hansard, (London: HMSO, 17 March 2010), Column 925.

[25] Statement of the UK, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Meeting of States Parties, Vientiane, 10 November 2010.

[26] Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Command Paper Cm9021, “Post–legislative scrutiny of the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act 2010,” presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs by Command of Her Majesty, 5 March 2015.

[27] Statement by Chris Bryant, House of Commons Debate, Hansard, (London: HMSO, 17 March 2010), Column 925.

[28] Statement by Lord Astor of Hever, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Defence, Conservative, House of Lords Debate, Hansard, (London: HMSO, 21 December 2010), Column WA278.

[29] Statement by Lord John Howell of Guildford, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Conservative, House of Lords Debate, Hansard, (London: HMSO, 31 January 2011), Column 1186. Lord Howell stated that “the one exception was made very properly by the previous Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, Mr. Miliband, allowing the US a temporary extension of its right to keep cluster munitions while it went through the process of getting rid of them as part of the running down of cluster munitions stores in UK territory and in the United Kingdom. That is the only exception that has ever been made. For the future, we will consider bringing to Parliament and recording any decisions that may be proposed for temporary extension, and we will do that on a case-by-case basis. I have to say that in a number of instances it could be governed and limited by security considerations.” Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox stated in 2010: “Neither I nor any other Secretary of State in this Government has issued any authorisation under Article 8 of the Act. Article 8 does not require such requests to be scrutinised by Parliament. However, in the event of a future request, we would consider on a case-by-case basis how best we can keep Parliament informed within the constraints of classification and operational planning.” Statement by Liam Fox, Secretary of State, Defence, House of Commons Debate, Hansard (London: HMSO, 9 December 2010), c427W. See also, statement by Jeremy Browne, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, House of Commons Debate, Hansard, (London: HMSO, 1 November 2011), Column 589W.

[30] The cable quoted a UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office official as telling US officials: “It would be better for the USG [US government] and HMG [Her Majesty’s Government—UK] not to reach final agreement on this temporary agreement understanding until after the CCM ratification process is completed in Parliament, so that they can tell parliamentarians that they have requested the USG to remove its cluster munitions by 2013, without complicating/muddying the debate by having to indicate that this request is open to exceptions.” According to the cable, the UK’s position was that “any U.S. cluster munitions currently stored on British territory (either UK territory proper, Diego Garcia, or elsewhere) would be permitted to stay until 2013, while any new cluster munitions the USG wanted to bring to those sites after the treaty’s entry into force for the UK - either before or after 2013 - would require the temporary exception. Any movement of cluster munitions from ships at Diego Garcia to planes there, temporary transit, or use from British territory also would require the temporary exception after entry into force.” “U.S.-UK Cluster Munitions Dialogue,” US Department of State cable 09STATE52368 dated 21 May 2009, released by Wikileaks on 1 December 2010.

[31] House of Commons Debate, Hansard, (London: HMSO, 15 December 2010), Column 913. In June 2008, Minister of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Lord Malloch-Brown, stated that although the UK did not read the prohibition on foreign stockpiling as a legal requirement under the treaty, it would seek the removal of foreign stockpiles of cluster munitions from UK territories within the eight-year period allowed for stockpile destruction in the convention. The government later told parliamentarians that the US had identified the cluster munitions on UK territory as “exceeding operational planning requirements” and that they would be “gone from the UK itself by the end of [2010]” and “gone from other UK territories, including Diego Garcia, by the end of 2013.” Statement by Lord George Mark Malloch-Brown, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, House of Lords Debate, Hansard, (London: HMSO, 3 June 2008), Column 79; statement by Baroness Glenys Kinnock, House of Lords Debate, Hansard, (London: HMSO, 8 December 2009), Column 1020; and statement by Chris Bryant, House of Commons Debate, Hansard, (London: HMSO, 17 March 2010), Column 925.

[32] See Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Command Paper Cm9021, “Post –legislative scrutiny of the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act 2010,” presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs by Command of Her Majesty, 5 March 2015.

[33] The clause states: “It is a defence for a person charged with an offence specified in any of paragraphs 1 to 6 of Schedule 2 [the prohibitions of the convention] to show that the person’s conduct took place in the course of, or for the purposes of, an international military operation or an international military co-operation activity.” Members in the House of Commons went to great lengths to seek clarification on the scope of this clause.

[34] Statement of the UK, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 30 June 2011.

[35] For example, see statement by William Cash, House of Commons Debate, Hansard, (London: HMSO, 23 March 2010), Column 160; statement by Jo Swinson, House of Commons Debate, Hansard, (London: HMSO, 17 March 2010), Column 906; and statement by Martin Caton, House of Commons Debate, Hansard,(London: HMSO, 17 March 2010), Columns 902–903.

[36] Statements by John Redwood and Chris Bryant, House of Commons Debate, Hansard,(London: HMSO, 23 March 2010), Column 162.

[37] Statement by John Redwood, House of Commons Debate, Hansard,(London: HMSO, 23 March 2010), Column 163.

[38] House of Commons Debate, Hansard,(London: HMSO, 23 March 2010), Columns 161–164.

[39] “Response to Cluster Munition Monitor,” document attached to email from Jeremy Wilmshurst, Conventional Arms Policy Officer, Arms Export Policy Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 15 May 2015.

[40] Statement by William Hague, Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, House of Commons Debate, Hansard, (London: HMSO, 23 May 2011), Column 446W.

[41] NATO letter to the UN Commission of Inquiry on Libya, 15 February 2011. Cited in UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, “Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya,” A /HRC/19/68, 2 March 2012, p. 168, para. 638.

[42] In September 2011, Green Party leader and Member of Parliament Caroline Lucas raised concern that the Pakistan Ordnance Factory stand and Pakistan’s Defence Export Promotion Organization pavilion at the DSEi in London were displaying promotional materials advertising their cluster munitions. DSEi shut down both exhibits after the materials were found to “breach UK government export controls and our own contractual requirements.” In response, in 2011 the government said, “provided companies which produce cluster munitions do not engage in such promotional activities in the UK the Government have no plans to prohibit such companies from attending UK trade events.” The government placed responsibility with the event organizers, noting that “major UK defence exhibitions are commercial events and the admission of companies is a matter for the commercial organisers.” For details see ICBL-CMC, “Country Profile: United Kingdom: Cluster Munition Ban Policy,” 31 August 2012.

[43] DSEI website, “Compliance and Eligibility to Exhibit,” undated.

[44] Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Command Paper Cm9021, “Post –legislative scrutiny of the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act 2010,” presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs by Command of Her Majesty, 5 March 2015.

[45] Statement by Lord Howell of Guildford, (London: HMSO, 31 January 2011), Column 1185.

[46] Statement by Alistair Burt, Under Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, House of Commons Debate, Hansard, (London: HMSO, 11 October 2011), Column 322W.

[47] Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Command Paper Cm9021, “Post –legislative scrutiny of the Cluster Munitions (Prohibitions) Act 2010,” presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs by Command of Her Majesty, 5 March 2015.

[48] Questions by Jim Cunningham, House of Commons Debate, (London: HMSO, 23 March 2015), Column W.

[49] Response by Rt Hon Steve Webb, House of Commons Debate, (London: HMSO, 23 March 2015), Column W.

[51] The City of London Investment Group and Old Mutual were listed in the report’s “Hall of Shame.”

[52] HRW, “Ticking Time Bombs: NATO’s Use of Cluster Munitions in Yugoslavia,” Vol. 11, No. 6(D), June 1999; HRW, “Civilian Deaths in the NATO Air Campaign,” Vol. 12, No. 1(D), February 2000; and HRW, Off Target: The Conduct of the War and Civilian Casualties in Iraq (New York: HRW, 2003).

[53] The initial Article 7 report declared “Nil” under the section on the status and progress of programs for conversion or de-commissioning of production facilities. Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form E, 28 April 2011.

[54] Adam Ingram, Written Answers, House of Commons, Hansard, (London: HMSO, 17 November 2003), Columns 497W and 498W.

[55] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), pp. 468–470; Colin King, ed., Jane’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal 2007–2008, CD-edition (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2008), entries for: Iran, 10 January 2008; Italy, 10 January 2008; Netherlands, 10 January 2008; Oman, 10 January 2008; Pakistan, 10 January 2008; Saudi Arabia, 3 December 2007; Thailand, 10 January 2008; and United Arab Emirates, 10 January 2008; and Landmine Action, Explosive remnants of war: unexploded ordnance and post-conflict communities (London: Landmine Action, 2002). Croatia, Ecuador, Germany, Montenegro, Portugal, and Switzerland declared stockpiles of BL755 bombs, or the destruction thereof, in their Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 reports submitted in 2011. BiH disclosed stockpiling BL755 in a statement to the intersessional meeting on stockpile destruction held in Geneva in June 2011.

[57]Saudi Arabia admits it used UK-made cluster bombs in Yemen,” The Guardian, 19 December 2016.

[59] The US supplied the UK with 1,008 CBU-87 cluster bombs at some point between 1970 and 1995. US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Department of Defense, “Cluster Bomb Exports under FMS, FY1970–FY1995,” obtained by HRW in a Freedom of Information Act request, 28 November 1995. In June 2009, the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA) reported that it had contracted the destruction of 600 CBU-87 bombs for the UK. See presentation by Peter Courtney-Green, Chief of the Ammunition Support Branch, NAMSA, “Technical Aspects of Cluster Munitions Stockpile Destruction,” Berlin Conference on the Destruction of Cluster Munitions, 25 June 2009, slide 15.

[60] Questions have been raised about the status of the “Starstreak” missile, manufactured by Thales Air Defence Limited in the UK, in relation to the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the UK’s Cluster Munition (Prohibitions) Act. Some literature produced by the manufacturer has asserted a utility for the weapon against ground-based targets, which would seem to contradict its exclusion from the Convention on Cluster Munitions on the basis that it has been “designed exclusively for an air defence role.” For a detailed discussion of the “Starstreak” missile, see Cluster Munition Monitor 2011 (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2011), p. 177.

[61] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 29 April 2015; Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, 30 April 2014; Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 30 April 2012; and Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form B, 28 April 2011.

[62] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Reports, Form B, 30 April 2013, 30 April 2012, and 28 April 2011. The April 2013 report listed 191,128 total munitions in overview text, 300 more than the Monitor’s calculations based on the more-detailed tables in the report.

[63] This task was completed on 17 December 2013 when the last Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) M26 bomblet was destroyed at Esplodenti Sabino’s facility, Casalbordino, Italy. See CMC Press Release, “UK Destroys Last Stockpiled Cluster Munition,” 19 December 2013.

[64] The BL-755 bombs, IBL755 bombs, and RBL755 bombs with their No2 Mk1 submunitions were destroyed by Spreewerk in Lubben, Germany. The M483 projectiles and M42/M46 submunitions were destroyed by July 2008 by Esplodenti Sabino in Casalbordino, Italy. The L20A1 were destroyed by NAMMO Buck in Pinnow, Germany. The stockpile of CRV-7 M261 rockets and M73 submunitions were destroyed by July 2009 by NAMMO Group Demil Division in Norway.

[65] Statement of the UK, Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 8 April 2014. Average exchange rate for 2014: £1=US$1.6484. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 2 January 2015.

[67] Email from Eleonora Saggese, Disarmament and Arms Control Attaché, UK Mission to the UN in Geneva, 19 August 20201.

[68] Statement of the UK, Convention on Cluster Munitions Review Conference, Geneva, 26 November 2020.

[69] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, 29 April 2015; Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form C, 30 April 2014; and Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form C, 30 April 2013.

[70] 576 KB-1 (from the M87 Orkan), 244 M42 (from the M483), 96 M46 (from the M483), and 40 Alpha submunitions (from the CB470). Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form C, 28 April 2011. The UK’s second Article 7 report (April 2012) lists the same 956 explosive submunitions of four different types retained for training. The report also notes that 12 M42 submunitions consumed in the reporting period, but the total retained was not adjusted as a result of the consumption. In July 2012, a UK official clarified to the Monitor that no submunitions were consumed by the UK in the second Article 7 report’s period and the report’s inclusion of 12 consumed submunitions was an error. Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form C, 30 April 2012; and email from Graham Jessup, Conventional Disarmament Officer, Arms Trade Unit, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 10 July 2012.

[71] According to the report, the UK destroyed 244 M42 submunitions and 96 M46 submunitions that had previously been held unfuzed after being removed from its M483 projectiles, 40 Alpha Bomblet submunitions (from a former South African CB470 cluster munition), and 576 KB-1 submunitions (from two former Yugoslav M87 Orkan cluster munitions). Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, Form C, 30 April 2013.


Impact

Last updated: 04 February 2021

Jump to a specific section of the profile:

Treaty Status Management & Coordination | Impact (contamination & casualties) Addressing the Impact (land release, risk education, victim assistance)

Country Summary

At the Eighteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, held virtually in November 2020, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) announced that as of 14 November 2020, it had fulfilled its obligations under Article 5 in the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas. In total, 122 minefields were cleared, releasing 23km²of land.[1] The UK was also thought to have some residual cluster munition remnants contamination present within mined areas of the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas. However, the UK has not reported any cluster munition remnants contamination in the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas in its Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 transparency reports.

The UK became a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty on 1 March 1999, and national legislation implementing the treaty entered into force the same day. The UK had responsibilities under Article 5 of the treaty, due to its claim of sovereignty over the Falklands Islands/Islas Malvinas.

The UK started clearance in the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas in 2009. In November 2008, the UK requested, and was granted, a 10-year extension to its Article 5 deadline to clear mine-affected in the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas. A further five-year extension was requested in March 2018, and was granted, stipulating a new clearance deadline of 1 March 2024.

No civilians have been reported injured or killed as a result of antipersonnel landmines or cluster munition remnants in the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas. Risk education was provided as part of normal health and safety measures.[2]

Mine-affected areas in the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas were fenced off, while legislation made it illegal for people to enter contaminated areas.

Treaty status

Treaty status overview

Mine Ban Treaty

State Party

Completed Article 5 clearance obligations in November 2020, ahead of 1 March 2024 deadline

Convention on Cluster Munitions

State Party

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

State Party

 

The UK became a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty in 1999 and submitted two Article 5 deadline extension requests. The first extension request was submitted in 2008, for 10 years until 2019, and a second five-year extension was later approved, to 1 March 2024.[3] The UK announced completion of its Article 5 obligations in November 2020, ahead of its March 2024 deadline.[4]

The UK is also a State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, although it has not reported any obligations under Article 4.

Management and coordination

Mine Action management and coordination

Mine action management and coordination overview[5]

Mine action commenced

2009

National mine action management actors

  • National Mine Action Authority (NMAA); chaired by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and comprises representatives from the Ministry of Defence, Falkland Islands Government, and a strategic advisor
  • Demining Project Office (Fenix Insight); implemented NMAA policy, quality assurance and quality control
  • Suspect Hazardous Area Land Release Committee (SHALARC); based on the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas, composed of local officials and a UK military representative

Mine action legislation

Crimes Ordinance 1989

Landmine Act 1998

Mine action strategic and operational plans

Workplans developed for the different phases of demining

Mine action standards

International Mine Action Standards (IMAS), adapted to meet the specifics of the situation on the islands, and of each task

 

The National Mine Action Authority (NMAA) was established in 2009 to regulate, manage and coordinate mine action activities in the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas. The NMAA is chaired by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and comprises representatives from the Ministry of Defence, the Falklands Islands Government, and a strategic advisor.

The Demining Project Office (Fenix Insight) monitored operational progress and performance in the mine clearance program, and chaired the local land release committee.[6]

The Suspect Hazardous Area Land Release Committee (SHALARC) provided a forum for mine action contractors to discuss project progress and the land release process. SHALARC is based on the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas and is composed of local officials and a representative of the UK military.[7]

All demining efforts were conducted in close cooperation with the Falkland Islands Government.[8]

The total cost of the demining program was £44 million (US$56 million), funded in full by the UK Government.[9]

Legislation and standards

The UK approved a Landmines Act in 1998, which came into force in 1999.[10] The Falkland Islands Government has had a Crimes Ordinance in place since 1989, making it a criminal offence for any person to willfully enter a minefield; to cause or attempt to cause a landmine to explode; to cut or remove minefield fencing; to remove, damage or obscure minefield signs or notices; or to drive an animal into a minefield.[11]

Environmental protection

The Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas contain sensitive flora, fauna, and fragile terrain which created an additional challenge to mine clearance. Environmental standards for clearance were agreed on in coordination with the Environmental Planning Department of the Falkland Islands Government, to minimize damage to the fragile environment, and to aid remediation.[12] The UK also conducted an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in 2017, in preparation for the most environmentally sensitive minefields to be cleared from 2018 onwards. The EIA identified two particular issues: a) penguins which often breed in burrows in mined areas,[13] and, b) the sensitive beach and sand dune area at Yorke Bay, where the last areas to be cleared were located.[14] The report set down conditions to ensure that the impact on the environment was limited to the minimum practicable impact.[15]

Information management

Fenix Insight ran a detailed operational performance management database, which allowed the Demining Project Office manager to analyze performance, check the validity of future plans, and identify trends and other factors that influenced overall performance.[16]

Gender and diversity

The UK reported that gender policies and procedures were in place to cover mine action activities in the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas, including at the level of the FCO, the NMAA, the land release contractor, and the demining project.[17]

Impact

Contamination

Contamination (as of November 2020)[18]

Landmines

None, the UK reported completion of its clearance operations in November 2020

Cluster munition remnants

None reported by the UK, although some submunitions were found and cleared during demining operations

Other ERW contamination

ERW were contained within known hazardous areas

Note: ERW=Explosive Remnants of War.

In 2009, 122 mined areas were identified.[19] As of 30 April 2020, it was reported that there were four remaining areas to be cleared in the Yorke Bay area, totaling 0.26km².[20]

In November 2020, the UK announced fulfillment of its clearance obligations, and reported that a total of 23km² was released back to the community through clearance operations.[21]

Landmine Contamination

Landmines were laid in the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas during the 1982 conflict between the UK and Argentina. The Argentine Government reported to the United Nations (UN) that 20,000 antipersonnel mines and 5,000 antivehicle mines were transported to the islands by its armed forces during the war. Approximately 1,855 mines have been removed and destroyed following the conflict.[22]

Mined areas covered a wide range of terrain, including sandy beaches and dunes, mountains, rock screes, dry peat, wet swampy peat, and pasture. However, mined areas accounted for only 0.1% of the land used for farming. Some of the contaminated areas were isolated, with no access tracks.

Cluster munition remnants contamination

The UK has not reported any cluster munition remnants contamination in its Article 7 reports under the Convention on Cluster Munitions. However, some cluster munition remnants contamination was believed to have existed within the mined areas in the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas.

There are also estimated to be over 2,000 crates of AN-M1A1 and/or AN-M4A1 “cluster adapter” type bombs remaining in UK waters in the cargo of a sunken World War II ship, off the east coast of England. The SS Richard Montgomery vessel, carrying a cargo of munitions, was stranded and wrecked off the Thames Estuary, near Sheerness, in August 1944, and remains submerged there. The former UK Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) has listed best estimates of the munitions remaining aboard the ship, including 2,297 cases of fragmentation cluster bombs, with AN M1A1 and/or AN M4A1 “cluster adapter” submunitions. Surveys from November 2017 and April 2018 have indicated that the wreck is generally stable but was showing accelerated levels of deterioration.[23] In 2002, it was reported that the wreck is monitored constantly by port authorities, and is subject to a 500-metre exclusion zone.[24]

ERW contamination

ERW were also found in some of the contaminated areas on the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas.

Casualties

No casualties caused by mines/ERW, or by other unexploded ordnance (UXO), have been reported in the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas.[25]

Addressing the impact

Mine Action

Operators and service providers

SafeLane Global was the sole demining contractor in the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas.

Clearance

Land release overview[26]

Land release (phases 1–5a)

October 2009–March 2018

  • Land released: 11.84km²
  • Antipersonnel mines destroyed: 8,256
  • Antivehicle mines destroyed: 1,169
  • ERW destroyed: 166
  • Cluster munition remnants destroyed: 22

Land release (phase 5b)

April 2018 to April 2020

  • Land released: 10.3km²
  • Antipersonnel mines destroyed: 749
  • ERW destroyed: 8

Progress

The UK reported completing clearance of all antipersonnel mines in the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas in November 2020

Note: ERW=Explosive Remnants of War.

Land release: landmines

Some mine clearance was undertaken in the early 1980s immediately following the conflict, during which 1,855 landmines were removed and destroyed from mined area.[27]

Full clearance operations in the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas began in 2009 culminating in the clearance of 122 minefields. All mine clearance on the islands was undertaken by SafeLane Global, using Zimbabwean deminers.[28] To demonstrate that all reasonable effort had been made, detailed site implementation plans were developed for each demining site to show what was expected to be found, what was done, what was found, and what was learned.[29]

The clearance was conducted in phases. The first four phases of clearance took place from October 2009 to March 2016, during which 35 mined areas were released, totaling just over 7km².[30] Phase 5(a) was completed at the end of March 2018, with just over 4.8km² cleared. Phase 5(b) commenced in April 2018[31] and was completed in November 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic had temporarily suspended operations in the first part of 2020.[32]

Don Carlos Bay and Beatrice Cove, which had been inaccessible to all persons on the islands since 1982,[33] were released after survey confirmed that neither area had mines.[34]

Clearance was prioritized initially in mined areas closest to settlements and civilian infrastructure, resulting in the release of areas near Port Stanley, and then according to ranking, including factors such as the size and density of a minefield; terrestrial factors (remoteness of location, topography, and difficulty of mine removal); human factors (proximity to life, benefits to the local population of clearance, and political priorities of the UK Government and the Falkland Islands Government); and environmental factors (conservation of wildlife and adherence to local legislation).

Challenges for clearance included the environmentally sensitive nature of mined areas, [35] remote locations, adverse weather conditions, incomplete Argentine minefield records, and the limits on the capacity of the islands to provide certain facilities for demining.[36]

Residual risk

The UK believes that the likelihood of further clearance tasks arising, or of landmines being found after program completion, is very low. Any mines found following the conclusion of the demining program will be cleared by the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team, of the Royal Air Force’s Armament Engineering Flight on the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas.[37]

Risk Education

Implementation

While the humanitarian impact of mine-affected areas was reported to be negligible, risk education was conducted for both military and civilian personnel, to ensure that mine awareness remained a key part of normal health and safety considerations.[38] The civilian population has been instructed to follow a “mark, leave, report” process, in relation to finding landmines or other UXO.[39]

Marking

All 122 mined areas were perimeter-marked, and were regularly monitored and protected by stock proof fencing to ensure the effective exclusion of civilians.

(See also the profiles for Argentina and the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas).


[1] Statement of the UK, Mine Ban Treaty Eighteenth Meeting of States Parties (virtual), 16–20 November 2020.

[4] Statement of the UK, Mine Ban Treaty Eighteenth Meeting of States Parties (virtual), 16–20 November 2020.

[5] See, UK Mine Ban Treaty Second Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2018, pp. 3 and 7. The FCO was renamed in 2020 as the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO).

[6] Fenix Insight, “Operations: Falkland Islands,” 12 July 2019.

[7] UK Mine Ban Treaty Second Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2018, p. 9, and UK Government, “Landmines Act 1998,” undated.

[9] Ibid. Average exchange rate for 2020: £1=US$1.2829. US Federal Reserve, ‘‘List of Exchange Rates (Annual),’’ 29 January 2021.

[10] UK Government, “Landmines Act 1998.”

[12] UK Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2016), Form F.

[14] Email from an official in the Arms Export Policy Department, FCO, 28 July 2017; and UK Mine Ban Treaty Second Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2018, pp. 3 and 11.

[15] UK Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2018), Form F, p. 11.

[16] Fenix Insight, “Operations: Falkland Islands,” 12 July 2019.

[17] UK Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2019), ‘‘Additional Reporting for 2019,’’ p. 20.

[18] See, UK Mine Ban Treaty Second Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2018, p. 6; and Statement of the UK, Mine Ban Treaty Eighteenth Meeting of States Parties (virtual), 16–20 November 2020.

[19] UK Mine Ban Treaty Second Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2018, p. 3.

[21] Statement of the UK, Mine Ban Treaty Eighteenth Meeting of States Parties (virtual), 16–20 November 2020.

[23] See, “Masts to be cut from Thames Estuary wreck packed with explosives,” BBC News, 4 June 2020; Maritime and Coastguard Agency, “Report on the Wreck of the SS Richard Montgomery,” November 2020, p. 20; and Jamie Doward and Chris Bradford, “Fears grow the WW2 wreck could explode on Kent coast,” The Guardian, 17 August 2019.

[26] Data on phase 1–5a clearance from UK Mine Ban Treaty Second Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2018, p. 6; data on phase 5b clearance from FCO, “Falklands Demining Programme Workplan Under Article 5,” 30 April 2020, pp. 3 and 9. It was reported that 319 mines were cleared and destroyed in 2019. See, UK Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2019), Form G, p. 12.

[28]The Zimbabwean Deminers who’ve made the Falklands Mine-Free,” BBC News, 14 November 2020; and presentation by John Hare, SafeLane Global, Mine Ban Treaty Eighteenth Meeting of States Parties (virtual), 20 November 2020.

[29] Presentation by John Hare and by Guy Marot, SafeLane Global, Mine Ban Treaty Eighteenth Meeting of States Parties, 20 November 2020.

[30] UK Mine Ban Treaty Second Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2018, Annex A, ‘‘Cumulative Land Release Totals,’’ 5 March 2018, p. 3.

[31] Ibid.

[36] Statement of the UK, Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings, Geneva, 8 June 2017; and UK Mine Ban Treaty Second Article 5 deadline Extension Request, 29 March 2018, p. 3. Demining operations were limited in terms of staff numbers, due to limited accommodation capacity and the logistics involved in evacuating casualties by air.


Last updated: 18 December 2019

Policy

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) became a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty on 1 March 1999, and national legislation implementing the treaty entered into force the same day.

The UK served as co-chair of the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies from 1999–2000, and as coordinator of the Sponsorship Programme for many years. More recently, the UK served on the Committee on Cooperative Compliance from 2016–2018 and the Committee on Enhancement of Cooperation and Assistance since 2018. The UK was also Vice President of the Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties in November 2018.

The UK has attended most meetings of the treaty, including the Third Review Conference in Maputo in December 2014. More recently, the UK attended the Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in November 2018, where it reported on its clearance efforts in the Falkland Islands/Malvinas and requested a clearance deadline extension request until 2024, which was granted. It also highlighted its support for mine action in nine countries from 2014–2018.[1] The UK also attended the treaty’s intersessional meetings in May 2019, where it again provided an update on clearance activities.[2]

The UK is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and its Amended Protocol II on landmines. The UK is not party to Protocol V on explosive remnants of war.

Production, transfer, stockpile destruction, and retention

The UK completed destruction of its stockpile of more than two million antipersonnel mines on 19 October 1999.

Initially, the UK retained close to 5,000 mines for training purposes, but decided in 2003 that the number was excessive and reduced it to less than 2,000. In 2018, the UK announced that its previously reported 724 antipersonnel mines retained for training were inert munitions not subject to the convention, and thus has zero mines retained for training or research.[3]

Production of antipersonnel mines in the UK was not prohibited until entry into force of the treaty on 1 March 1999, although some manufacturers had ceased production earlier. The UK’s first Article 7 report stated that production facilities had been converted or decommissioned.[4] The partial export moratoria of 1994 and 1995 were made comprehensive in 1996. Imports were banned in May 1997.

The UK was previously a major producer and exporter of antipersonnel mines, with at least four major manufacturers producing five types of antipersonnel mines.[5] The UK was described in 1993 as one of the “top 10” exporters of antipersonnel mines and a primary source of advanced mine technology. British antipersonnel mines have been found in many mine-affected countries, including Afghanistan, Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, India, Mozambique, and Somalia, and were also exported to other countries. Mines were also imported from Canada, France, and the United States.



[1] Statement of the United Kingdom, Mine Ban Treaty Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 26 November 2018.

[2] Statement of the United Kingdom, Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 22 May 2019.

[4] Article 7 report, Form E, 26 August 1999. This refers only to production facilities for the HB876 (decommissioned in 1991) and Ranger (decommissioned by 1994).

[5] The major producers and types produced were: Thorn EMI Electronics (Ranger mines), Royal Ordnance (L1E1 and No. 6 mines), British Aerospace/Royal Ordnance (L9 bar mine), Hunting Engineering (HB876). Other companies also produced mine components. See, Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 683–684.


Support for Mine Action

Last updated: 17 October 2020

In 2019, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) contributed £56.2 million (US$71.7 million)[1] in mine action funding to 17 countries. Compared to 2018, the UK’s funding increased by almost one-quarter, or $13.6 million, in US dollar terms; in national currency terms, it rose by 30%, an increase of £12.7 million.

The largest contribution went to Afghanistan, which received the equivalent of more than $18 million, representing one-quarter of the UK’s total mine action funding. Cambodia and Lao PDR received the second and third largest contributions, each receiving more than $5 million.

Contributions by recipient: 2019[2]

Recipient

Sector

Amount (£)

Amount (US$)

Afghanistan

Various

14,769,479

18,857,671

Cambodia

Clearance and risk education

4,822,651

6,157,561

Lao PDR

Capacity-building, clearance, and risk education

4,556,851

5,818,187

Angola

Capacity-building, clearance and risk education

3,730,368

4,762,934

Lebanon

Clearance and risk education

3,607,696

4,606,306

Zimbabwe

Clearance and risk education

3,343,250

4,268,662

Somalia

Clearance and risk education

3,291,186

4,202,186

Vietnam

Clearance and risk education

2,941,554

3,755,776

Iraq

Clearance and risk education

2,850,000

3,638,880

Libya

Clearance and risk education

2,810,019

3,587,832

Ukraine

Clearance

2,635,682

3,365,239

Sudan

Clearance and risk education

1,970,000

2,515,296

Sri Lanka

Clearance

1,480,893

1,890,804

South Sudan

Clearance and risk education

1,345,012

1,717,311

Yemen

Clearance and risk education

1,000,000

1,276,800

Myanmar

Risk education

796,463

1,016,924

Georgia

Clearance

213,091

272,075

Total

 

56,164,195

71,710,444

 

In 2015–2019, the UK’s cumulative contribution to mine action totaled £148.9 million (approximately $197 million). In comparison, in the previous five-year period from 2010–2014, the UK’s support to mine action amounted to £58.2 million ($92.2 million).

In September 2018, the UK announced the provision of an additional £46 million (some $58 million) towards projects for demining, risk education, and capacity development in Angola, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, and Vietnam.[3]

In April 2017, the UK announced a £100 million ($126 million) aid package to support landmine clearance and risk education projects over the next three years, which represents a tripling in its contribution to mine action[4] compared to its 2014–2016 contribution of £36.4 million ($53.4 million). This new funding would focus on countries “where the greatest numbers of people continue to suffer from landmine contamination…and where continued insecurity and instability pose an ongoing threat to UK interests.” The countries to benefit from this support were: Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe.[5]

Summary of contributions: 2015–2019[6]

Year

Amount (£)

Amount (US$)

% change from previous year (US$)

2019

56,164,195

71,710,444

+23

2018

43,494,399

58,121,566

+117

2017

20,767,881

26,769,798

+7

2016

18,395,476

24,935,067

+62

2015

10,047,885

15,357,188

+17

Total

148,869,836

196,894,063

N/A

Note: N/A=not applicable.



[1] Average exchange rate for 2019: £1=US$1.2768. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Annual),” 2 January 2020.

[2] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form J, 30 April 2020.

[3] Department for International Development press release, “UK aid will protect more than 820,000 people from threat of lethal landmines,” 6 September 2018. Exchange rate for 6 September 2018: £1=US$1.2933. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Weekly),” 10 September 2018.

[4] Department for International Development press release, “UK triples support for action against landmines on 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s iconic Angola visit,” 4 April 2017. Average exchange rate for April 2017: £1=US$1.2639. US Federal Reserve, “List of Exchange Rates (Monthly),” 3 July 2017.

[5] Statement of the UK, Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, Session on International Cooperation and Assistance, Geneva, 9 June 2017.

[6] See previous Monitor reports.