Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

Recent Reports 
 Support HRW 
About HRW
Site Map
Human Rights Watch - Home Page


The export of U.S. antipersonnel mines has been banned through legislation since October 23, 1992.63 Claymore mines were exempted from this ban in 1996.64 This export ban has been extended several times, most recently until 2003.65 The Clinton Administration announced in January 1997 that the U.S. "will observe a permanent ban on the export and transfer of APL."66 However, the permanent ban has not been codified into law by Congress. Prior to the export ban, the U.S. exported 4.4 million antipersonnel mines to thirty-two countries between 1969 and 1992.67

Transiting Mines
An issue related to transfer is that of "transit." The Mine Ban Treaty defines transfer to include "the physical movement of antipersonnel mines into or from national territory,"68 but some U.S. officials have stated that this does not prohibit the U.S. from "transiting" its antipersonnel mines through the territory, airspace, or waters of a party to the ban treaty. Given the fact that the U.S. has stockpiled mines in a number of states parties, and has historically used the territory of some states parties to facilitate military operations, this is a controversial issue. A number of states parties, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross, have said that in their legal judgment, such transiting would be prohibited by the treaty.69 The U.S. may have made certain bilateral arrangements with its allies who are party to the treaty to account for these contingencies. The legal interpretation made by the U.S. regarding the meaning and application of the term transfer is not publicly available, nor have officials in public forums addressed it.

Transfer of Non-Detectable Antitank Mines
It is not known whether the Pentagon has implemented an announced 1996 ban on the transfer of low metal content antitank mines. This was a commitment made by the U.S. upon adopting CCW Amended Protocol II. Although this ban was an objective of the U.S. during CCW negotiations, it was not adopted by the conference. Low metal content antitank mines pose a great danger to peacekeepers and deminers. The article-by-article analysis submitted to the Senate by the president reads: "As a unilateral matter the U.S. will nonetheless observe a ban on transfer of anti-tank mines which fail to meet this [8 grams of metal] detectability standard."70 The U.S. M19 antitank mine contains only 2.86 grams of metal and does not meet the treaty's detectability standard.

Based on an analysis of the Commodity Command Standard System information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by Human Rights Watch, it does not appear that the U.S. has transferred any M19 antitank mines as part of a foreign military sales case since 1998.71 Human Rights Watch has not been able to locate official sources indicating whether or not transfers of M19 mines might have occurred between 1996 and 1998. In addition, it is not known if the stated U.S. transfer ban applies to production licenses. The M19 has been produced in the past under license by Industrias Cardoen in Chile and by MKEK in Turkey. The Hanwha Corporation and Daewoo Corporation are reported to currently produce the M19 in South Korea.72

63 Public Law 102-484, Section 1365; 22 U.S.C., 2778 note.

64 Claymore is a generic term used for the U.S. M18/M18A1 directional fragmentation mine. Throughout this report, the familiar generic usage will be retained. The exception for the Claymore in the definition of antipersonnel mine was used in subsequent legislation which serves to exempt them from the transfer ban legislation.

65 Conference Report on H.R. 3194, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2000, Sec. 553.

66 The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Fact Sheet: "U.S. Initiatives on Anti-Personnel Landmines," January 17, 1997.

67 ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 328.

68 Article 1.1.b) of the treaty prohibits "transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly," of antipersonnel mines. Article 2.4. states " `Transfer' involves, in addition to the physical movement of anti-personnel mines into or from national territory, the transfer of title to and control over the mines...."

69 ICRC oral statement to the Standing Committee of Experts on General Status of the Convention, Geneva, January 10, 2000. Committee co-chair South Africa also expressed this view.

70 Treaty Document 105-1, January 17, 1997, p. 16. An identical statement was made by State Department official Michael J. Matheson, "New Landmine Protocol is Vital Step toward Ban," Arms Control Today, July 1996, p. 12.

71 U.S. Army Industrial Operations Command (IOC) response to Human Rights Watch FOIA request, April 4, 2000 and April 26, 2000. IOC is the national inventory control point for all U.S. conventional ammunition items and as of May 2000 was renamed as Operations Support Command. The records did not cover any possible transfers under the Excess Defense Article program.

72 Jane's Mines and Mine Clearance 1999-2000, online update, November 18, 1999.

Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page