Fields of Nightmares
The Not-Yet Eliminated Global Landmine Industry
by E. J. Hogendoorn
Multinational Monitor, March, 1998
The December 1997 signing of the Landmine Treaty marked a
major step in the campaign to eradicate landmines, but not a final
victory. More than 120 countries signed the Convention on the
Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of
Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (the Ottawa Treaty),
including 33 former producer states.
The Ottawa Treaty was largely the product of an unprecedented
effort by more than 1,000 non-governmental organizations in the
International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). In recognition
for its work, the ICBL and its coordinator, Jody Williams, received
the Nobel Peace Prize earlier this year.
The ICBL has succeeded through aggressive campaigning that
highlights the tragic consequences of the use of anti-personnel
(AP) mines. Every 22 minutes someone is injured, maimed or killed
in a landmine incident-more than 26,000 people each year. Most
of the victims are civilians, often women and children, and nearly
all these incidents occur after fighting has ended in the area
where the mines were laid. AP mines ensure war damage continues
after the fighting is over in other ways, as well. AP mines slow
reconstruction, prevent resettlement and divert the scarce resources
of post-conflict societies to landmine clearance, which the U.N.
estimates costs between $300 and $1,000 per mine cleared.
But production of AP mines has been a big business-one many
producers are reluctant to abandon. Nineteen current or former
producer countries refused to sign the Ottawa Treaty.
Over the last several decades, until the early 1990s, more
than five million anti-personnel mines were produced annually,
with a market value of $50 million to $200 million annually. (This
is only "dumb" conventional mines, and does not include
more sophisticated "smart," self-destructing mines,
or "mixed" systems combining antipersonnel mines with
antitank mines, nor antitank, anti-helicopter, and other non-AP
Profit margins for AP mines are small, largely because individual
mines sell so cheaply. Recent prices for conventional AP mines
include $3.00 for a Chinese Type 72 mine, $6.75 for the Pakistani
P4 MK2 mine and $27.47 for U.S. M18A1 claymore mines. (More sophisticated
mines, for example those that self destruct after a preset time,
are much more expensive, typically costing hundreds of dollars
each.) But even small profit margins can pay off with big sales
More than 400 million AP mines have been emplaced since World
War II, the vast majority in the last three decades, according
to Thomas Reeder, a senior mine warfare analyst at the U.S. National
Ground Intelligence Center. Of this total, 110 million mines in
approximately 70 countries remain to be cleared. More than 100
million AP mines are also held in storage around the world, according
to U.S. military estimates, including 14 million in U.S. stockpiles.
(State parties to the Ottawa Treaty will be required to destroy
their stockpiles of AP mines. )
It is unclear how much demand there will be for AP mines once
the Ottawa Treaty enters into force, but some will undoubtedly
remain. Until the international ban on antipersonnel mines is
universal, members of the ICBL will continue to research the production
and trade of AP mines and publicly identify and stigmatize the
countries and companies involved in the supply, use and production
of AP mines.
The producer states that have not signed the Ottawa Treaty
are: Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel,
North Korea, South Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan,
Turkey, Ukraine, the United States, Vietnam and Yugoslavia.
The US Corporate Producers
Although it has had a unilateral export moratorium on AP mines
in place since 1992, the United States has refused to sign the
From 1969 to 1992, the United States exported 4.4 million
AP mines to at least 34 different countries. U.S. mines have been
sown in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Cuba, Iraq, Kuwait, Mozambique,
Nicaragua, Somalia, South Korea, Sudan and Vietnam.
Forty-seven U.S. companies have been involved in the manufacture
of anti-personnel landmines, their components or delivery systems.
Because U.S. stockpiles are full, there is apparently no current
production of AP mines.
Last year, Human Rights Watch approached these companies,
highlighted the humanitarian impact of AP mine warfare and asked
them to renounce future involvement in AP mine production. Nineteen
of the 47 companies agreed to do so. Notable companies that declined
to renounce future involvement are General Electric, Alliant Techsystems
(the main U.S. manufacturer of AP mines), Lockheed Martin and
Of the 28 companies that rejected Human Rights Watch's humanitarian
appeal to renounce future involvement in AI, mine production,
16 responded in writing, and 12 never bothered to respond to repeated
A number of companies insisted they should not be on the list
of mine producers because they were currently not involved in
the production of AP mines. Human Rights Watch pointed out that,
because at the moment U.S. stockpiles of AP mines are full, no
AP mines are being produced in the United States. The purpose
of the pledge was to obtain guarantees that companies would not
engage h1 any future production.
Despite Human Rights Watch's clear request, some companies
refused to address the issue of future involvement. General Electric,
in a carefully crafted January 16, 1997 letter, stated: "We
know of no active GE contracts nor any current direct sales of
GE products or materials in which we are involved with manufacturers
of antipersonnel mines, mine components or mine delivery systems....
GE's name on an undated (but apparently old) government list of
suppliers is not relevant to the Company's current operation."
GE never renounced involvement in future production, despite repeated
requests for clarification.
Some companies were more forthright. Raytheon wrote, "It
is generally not our practice to broadly and formally renounce
participation in businesses."
Other companies said governments, not corporations, were to
blame for landmines' deadly toll. "It is irresponsible to
imply in any way that companies such as Alliant Techsystems have
contributed to the world's landmine problem," insisted Alliant
Techsystems, a major defense contractor which was awarded Pentagon
antipersonnel and antitank mine production contracts worth $336
million between 1985 and 1995 (a subsidiary, Accudyne Corp., received
contracts worth another $150 million in the same period). "To
do so wrongly maligns responsible U.S. citizens, and diverts resources
that could be applied toward stigmatizing governments that violate
The Global Producers
With 19 other producer states refusing to sign the Ottawa
Treaty, the threat of ongoing or renewed AI' production and commerce
is not limited to the United States. Among the other countries
that will face increased scrutiny are:
* China, probably one of the two largest producers of AP mines
today. The China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) and Chinese
state factories produce a variety of mines, including the Type
72, one of the most common AP mines in mine-infested countries.
China has declared an export moratorium.
* Egypt, one of the most significant mine producers in the
developing world (as well as one of the most mine-affected, with
an estimated 23 million uncleared landmines). Egyptian landmine
producers include the Heliopolis Company for Chemical Industries,
Kaha Company for Chemical Industries, and Maasara Company for
Engineering Industries (all controlled by the Ministry of War
Production). Many mines produced in Egypt are copies of mines
designed in the United States, Italy and Russia. Egyptian mines
have been found in Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Nicaragua,
Rwanda and Somalia. Egypt has declared an export moratorium.
* Iraq, which produces a wide variety of AP mines. Although
Iraq has imported huge quantities of mines, Iraqi factories have
also produced copies of Italian, Yugoslavian and Russian mines.
Iraq used huge numbers of mines in Kuwait and Iraqi Kurdistan,
and is alleged to have exported AP mines.
* Israel, home to Explosives Industries Ltd. and Israeli Military
Industries, which produce at least three different AP mines. Israeli
mines have reportedly been sold to Argentina (used in the Falklands/Malvinas
War), Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nigeria and Zaire. Israel
has declared an export moratorium.
* Pakistan, which is among the largest AP mine producers in
the developing world. Pakistan Ordnance Factories manufactures
several types of AP mines. (The Pakistan Ordnance Factories' marketing
campaign for the P4 MK2 included an unusually candid description
of the mine's design. "The mine has been designed with a
view to disable personnel," says a company brochure. "Operating
research has shown that it is better to disable a man than to
kill him. A wounded man requires attention, conveyance and evacuation
to the rear, thus caus[ing] disturbances in the traffic lines
of the combat area. Also, a wounded person has a detrimental psychological
effect on his fellow soldiers.") Pakistani mines have been
found in Afghanistan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. Pakistan
has declared a moratorium on exports of AP mines.
* Russia, probably one of the two largest producers of AP
mines in the world. Most of the Russian production facilities
are still state owned, although many of the export decisions are
made privately by factory managers. Russia has recently declared
an export moratorium.
* Singapore, which is one of the most significant producers
of mines in the developing world. Chartered Industries, controlled
by the state-owned Sheng-Li Holding Company, produces and markets
copies of two Valsella (Italy) designed AP mines. Singapore is
reported to have exported AP mines to Iraq, among other places.
Singapore has declared a moratorium on exports of AP mines.
* South Korea, where the Daewoo Corporation and Korea Explosives
Company Ltd. produce landmines for the South Korean armed forces.
It is not known if South Korea has exported landmines.
* Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), which inherited some
of the former Yugoslavian landmine production capability (the
other former Yugoslav republics have signed the Ottawa Treaty).
Yugoimport is the holding company for the Federal Directorate
of Supply and procurement (SDPR), which manages the export of
Yugoslavian weapons. Yugoslavia exported a large number of AP
mines and millions were used during the war in Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia
has exported AP mines to Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Eritrea,
Ethiopia, Mozambique, Namibia. South Africa and Zambia.
Of known exporters of AP mines, only Iran, Iraq, Serbia and
Vietnam have not declared export bans or moratoria. However, self
declared bans and moratoria are matters of discretionary domestic
policy and do not represent the same obligation as international
treaties. Additionally, many of these countries do not have adequate
export controls or the ability or will to monitor arms-producing
One important task for the ICBL will be to monitor and verify
that these non-Ottawa-Treaty-signing states are adhering to their
promises to stop exporting AP mines.
Clearing the Landmine Field
Even prior to the signing of the Treaty, the International
Campaign to Ban Landmines has facilitated a dramatic reduction
in the landmine trade and in the use of AP mines altogether. Continued
vigilance and aggressive campaigning will be required to achieve
an eventual complete and effective worldwide ban on the production,
stockpiling, use and export of AP mines, with attention focused
especially on the countries and companies that refuse to renounce
involvement with the inhumane weapon.
But with so much accomplished already, efforts to limit landmines'
gruesome toll on life and limb will increasingly be focused on
clearing the more than 100 million still in the ground.
E. J. Hogendoorn is a research associate at the Human Rights
Watch Arms Division.