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Table of Contents
Country Reports
FALKLAND ISLANDS, Landmine Monitor Report 2005

Falkland Islands

Key developments since May 2004: In February 2005, the UK sent a mission to the Falkland Islands as part of its ongoing feasibility study for clearance of mine contamination resulting from the UK-Argentine war of 1982. The UK and Argentina, which claims sovereignty over the Islands, made a joint statement to the Standing Committee meetings in June 2005 on the two countries’ feasibility study. Joint Working Party meetings took place in October 2004, and April and July 2005.

Landmine Problem

The only mine-affected area under the UK’s “jurisdiction or control,” in the terms of the Mine Ban Treaty, is the Falkland Islands (Malvinas). The Falkland Islands were mined by British and Argentine forces during the war of 1982.[1 ]

The Falkland Islands government believes that more than 100 minefields[2 ]containing 16,000 mines cover a total area of 20 square kilometers. The UK has claimed that there are 117 minefields containing an unknown number of mines.[3 ] The mine contamination includes four types of antipersonnel mine and four types of antivehicle mine.[4 ] The mined areas are mainly beaches and peat areas, and are marked and fenced; the local population is said to have been warned to avoid the mined areas.[5 ] Three minefields, however, are said to be within one mile of the capital, Port Stanley.[6 ] When depositing its first Article 7 report in August 1999, the UK included minefield maps for the Falkland Islands.[7]

In June 2005, the UK made a statement on the Falklands to the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies: “Our own studies have shown that there are approximately 100 mined areas on the Falkland Islands which most likely contain both anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines. The size of the affected areas vary [sic], most being a few hundred square meters. In accordance with our obligations under this Convention and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, all mined areas are fenced and marked to exclude civilians. Despite the presence of mines on the Falklands for 23 years there has never been a civilian casualty and all islanders, including children, are educated on how to avoid them.”[8 ]

Mine Clearance

The UK is committed by Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty to destroy all antipersonnel mines in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control as soon as possible, and no later than 1 March 2009. Argentina continues to claim sovereignty over the Islands and, therefore, responsibility under Article 5 for clearance of antipersonnel mines from the Islands.[9 ]Argentina’s deadline for clearance of all antipersonnel mines from mined areas under its jurisdiction or control is 1 March 2010.

As documented in the Final Report of the First Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty, “Some clearance of anti-personnel mines was conducted immediately after the 1982 conflict, lifting about 1,400 mines but was stopped after several injuries to those involved. A total of 149 mines were destroyed between 1997 and 2001. A further 50 were destroyed as they were exposed to the surface. The 101 minefields are marked and fenced.”[10 ]

At the First Review Conference in November-December 2004, Argentina and the UK jointly submitted a document entitled “Information of the Argentine Republic and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the Implementation of the Ottawa Convention,” which stated:

On 11 October 2001, the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland signed an Exchange of Notes Agreement under the sovereignty formula, whereby they undertake to carry out a Feasibility Study on the clearance of landmines in the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas).... This study will assess the costs and risks of each of the options considered technically feasible, and will include a cost-benefit analysis of the clearance activities, establishing an order of preference among the options.... The study is to be carried out by both Governments by means of a Joint Argentine-British Working Party. The first meeting of the Joint Working Party was held in Buenos Aires in December 2001. The second meeting of the Joint Working Party took place in London in October 2004.... At the London meeting both countries agreed to continue to work together to enable the completion of the feasibility study.[11]

At the intersessional meetings in June 2005, the UK stated, “In order to fulfill our obligations under Article 5 of the Convention we have, and continue to, work closely with the Argentinean government in finding a solution.... This [Joint Working] Party meets regularly, the last meeting of which took place at the end of April in Buenos Aires.”[12 ] A further meeting took place in London in July 2005. According to a press report, the feasibility study is expected to be completed by April 2006.[13 ]

In February 2005, the UK sent a mission to the Islands as part of its ongoing feasibility study; the delegation included the Deputy Director of the NGO Landmine Action UK. Landmine Action has proposed “a Kyoto-style pollution credit scheme. In this context―as part of a ten-year deadline extension request―UK could commit to clear an equivalent area of mined land in the most heavily mine affected countries by the initial deadline of March 2009.”[14 ]

As of September 2005, there had been no formal reaction to this proposal by the UK government. According to the Falkland Islands government, “Falkland Islanders have lent their support to a proposal by the charity Landmine Action that priority should be accorded to landmine clearance in countries where mines pose greater danger to human life. Councillor Mike Summers said that mines in the Falklands were not intrusive and that there were more pressing needs for landmine clearance in other parts of the world.”[15]


[1 ]See Landmine Monitor Report 2004, p. 855.

[2 ]Reports of the total number of mined areas have apparently varied between 81 and 120 during the past few years, both with the Falkland Islands government and the UK government. Some of this can be attributed to several mined areas being grouped into one.

[3 ]CCW Amended Protocol II Article 13 Report, Form B, October 2003; Article 7 Report, Forms C and F, 15 March 2005.

[4 ]Antipersonnel mines present include: P4B (Spanish origin), SB33 (Italian), FMK1 (Argentine), No. 4 (Israeli). Antivehicle mines present: C3B (Spanish), SB81 (Italian), No6 Mk1 (Israeli), Mk1/6 (US). Fax from Ministry of Defence, 9 February 2004.

[5 ]Article 7 Report, Form I, 15 March 2005.

[6 ]Simon Conway, “The Falkland Islands-a get out clause for the unscrupulous,” Landmine Action Campaign, Issue 10, Summer 2005, p. 3.

[7] See report on Argentina in Landmine Monitor Report 2004. Article 7 Report, Enclosure 2, 26 August 1999.

[8 ]Statement by John Freeman, UK Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 14 June 2005.

[9 ]For instance, Argentina included an interpretative statement (“Declaración Interpretativa”) on its claims of sovereignty over the Islands when ratifying the Convention, reaffirming “its rights of sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich and the surrounding maritime areas which form an integral part of the territory.” It also declared that since the islands were under “illegal occupation” by the UK, Argentina was “effectively prevented from having access to the antipersonnel mines . . . in order to fulfill the obligations undertaken in the . . . Convention.” Similar statements were included in its April 2004 Article 7 report, as in previous years.

[10 ]United Nations, Final Report, First Review Conference of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, Nairobi, 29 November-3 December 2004, APLC/CONF/2004/5, p. 66. In March 2005, the UK reported that 50 mines which had become exposed were destroyed in 2004. Article 7 Report, Form G, 15 March 2005. In its previous Article 7 report, the UK stated that the same number of exposed mines was destroyed in 2003.

[11] “Information of the Argentine Republic and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the Implementation of the Ottawa Convention,” APLC/CONF/2004/MISC.3.

[12 ]Statement by John Freeman, UK Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, Geneva, 14 June 2005.

[13 ]A. Gillan, “How Falkland islanders plan to help the world by keeping their landmines,” Guardian, 11 June 2005, p. 10.

[14 ]Simon Conway, “The Falkland Islands―a get out clause for the unscrupulous,” Landmine Action Campaign, Issue 10, Summer 2005, p. 3.

[15] “Falkland Islanders Show Support for Landmine Action Charity,” www.falklands.gov.fk, 12 June 2005.