Antivehicle Mines with Sensitive Fuzes or Antihandling Devices
Human Rights Watch Backgrounder
February 25, 2002
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Key Sections

Part I: Introduction and Progress to Date

Part II: Sensitive Fuzes

Part III: Antihandling Devices

Note: Information in this backgrounder was originally distributed in Geneva, Switzerland on February 1, 2002 in memorandum for delegates to the fifth meeting of the Intersessional Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. This backgrounder is a revised version of that memorandum and incorporates factual corrections and additional information received from delegates.

Since the conclusion of the negotiations for the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, Human Rights Watch has emphasized that, according to the treaty's definitions, antivehicle mines (AVM) with antihandling devices (AHD) that explode from an unintentional or innocent act are considered antipersonnel mines and therefore prohibited. Additionally, if a fuzing mechanism for an AVM is sensitive enough to be activated by the unintentional act of a person, thus functioning as a de facto AHD, that AVM meets the definition of an antipersonnel mine in the Mine Ban Treaty and is prohibited.

The purpose of this backgrounder is to document the practice established by States Parties since entry-into-force of the treaty with respect to AVM with sensitive fuzes or AHD. It is regrettable that limited progress has been made in clarifying what specific types of AVM and AHD are permissible and which are prohibited under the treaty. The universalization of the treaty and the international norm is being hindered by the lack of action on the part of States Parties on this issue. Human Rights Watch urges States Parties to make meaningful progress on the issue of AVM with sensitive fuzes and AHD prior to the Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002. Both the President's Action Program emerging from the Third Meeting of States Parties and the Report of the General Status Standing Committee to the Third Meeting of States Parties have stressed the importance of progress on this issue.

This backgrounder consists of three parts:

    · Part I introduces the issue and chronicles work to date.
    · Part II addresses sensitive fuzing mechanisms.
    · Part III examines antihandling devices.

The backgrounder also has three attachments:

    · The first lists AVM reportedly stockpiled by States Parties.
    · The second lists AVM produced and exported by certain other states.
    · The third is a diplomatic history regarding AVM with AHD.

Information regarding the complete composition of any country's stockpiles of AVM is generally not publicly available nor is there any transparency requirement for such data in any international treaty or agreement. The information set forth in this memorandum is likely incomplete. Still, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines' (ICBL) Landmine Monitor research initiative has been quite successful in documenting the practice of States Parties and this memorandum draws significantly from the three reports published to date.