Co-Chairmen: Raja Reza Raja Zaid Shah, Malaysia. Miloš Koterec, Slovakia
The Co-Chairs noted that the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction is one of the most important in terms of the implementation of the Convention, particularly given the requirement to destroy anti-personnel mine (APL) stockpiles within four years of becoming States Parties. Stockpile Destruction is the fifth pillar of mine action and is one of the most effective and cost-efficient means of "preventive mine action".
Moderator; Stephen Goose, ICBL
Global OverviewPrior to the signing of the Convention, Stockpile Destruction had not been subject to the same degree of attention and research as other aspects of mine action. Destruction of stockpiled mines will ensure that they are not laid in the future.
The technical issues are not so complex, rather it requires a high degree of political will.
An estimated 235-240 million APL’s are stored in arsenals worldwide, in some 103 countries. While this is a daunting figure, it is lower than original estimates. This has become clearer as a result of greater transparency. However, the fact that 210-215 million of these mines are held by non-states parties underlines the urgent need to universalize the Convention.
Of States Parties, Italy, Albania, Japan and Bulgaria have the highest number of APL’s still stockpiled, although there are plans for the rapid destruction of these in each case.
22 million mines have been destroyed in recent years by 50 countries worldwide. 25 States Parties have destroyed their stockpiles of APL’s, including Honduras, Spain and Zimbabwe since September 2000. Another 24 States Parties are in the process of destroying their stockpile of APL’s.
States Parties which have not commenced the destruction of stockpiled APL’s include Brazil, Chad, Djibouti, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Portugal, Rwanda, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Venezuela.
It is probably the case that we know less about Africa than any other region. The little we do know is largely due to Article 7 reporting, but there is a need for these reports to be provided on a more timely basis.
The information available suggests that there are 22 countries in Africa with APL’s, including 9 States Parties (Chad, Djibouti, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Rwanda and Uganda). Of these only two, Liberia and Uganda, have commenced stockpile destruction. Four States Parties in the region have completed the destruction of their stockpiles (Mali, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe). Two States Parties in Africa, Guinea and Tanzania, have made no public statement with respect to the existence of a stockpile or not.
The OAS has played a coordinating role in assisting States Parties in the Americas meet their treaty obligations with respect to stockpile destruction. The OAS action in this area was mandated by an OAS resolution on Mine Action. The destruction of APL stockpiles is widely seen as a confidence building measure in the Americas.
A regional Stockpile Destruction seminar was held in Buenos Aires in November 2000. The seminar was a useful way of stimulating progress on Stockpile Destruction in the region. One of the aims of the seminar was to involve military representatives as well as other government officials
bstacles which were identified included; lack of practical experience; need for technical advice; funding; environment issues and a lack of national coordination. The seminar concluded that there is a need to; assist with the development and execution of Stockpile Destruction plans; identify technical resources and funding; facilitate international certification.
Four countries have completed stockpile destruction; Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Argentina is in the process of planning its destruction. No information available on action planned by Brazil or Venezuela.
As is the case with Africa there is a general lack of information. It is understood that 18 countries in the region hold an estimated number of 125 million APL’s. In fact, the Asia Pacific region has the number 1, 5 and 6 ranked nations in terms of the number of APL’s stockpiled (China, Pakistan and India respectively). South Korea also holds several million. The situation in Asia again underlines the importance of universalizing the treaty.
Four regional countries have completed their destruction; Australia, New Zealand, Cambodia and the Philippines.
In 1999 NATO agreed to adopt a mine action program, and it was further agreed that this program would look at stockpile destruction. A particular focus of this program has been the countries of South East Europe, specifically, Albania, Macedonia, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria. The program assisted these countries in assessing their needs in terms of stockpile destruction.
32 countries in broader Europe (State Parties and non-State Parties alike) are understood to have stockpiles of APL’s. Although States Parties have hitherto managed to destroy 16 million APL’s, they still hold approximately 8 million APL’s in their stocks. 13 States Parties have completed the destruction of their stockpiled APL’s. States Parties Macedonia and Portugal have not yet begun destruction. Of signatory states, Ukraine holds the most APL’s, with some 10 million, though it is understood that this number will soon be revised down significantly. As non-signatories Russia (60-70 million) and Belarus (4.5 million) hold the most stockpiles of APL’s.
Very little information available for this region, except for four States Parties (Jordan, Qatar, Tunisia and Yemen). Of these, all but Qatar have commenced the destruction of their stockpiles. Of non-signatories, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Israel are believed to have sizeable stockpiles.
Statements by individual States PartiesNicaragua
On signing the Convention in 1997, Nicaragua held a total of 136,813 APL’s. Nicaragua developed a national plan to assess the scale of the problem. This program began in 1999. Since that time, with the assistance of the OAS, Nicaragua has been building its national capacity in this area and 40,000 mines have been destroyed. The remaining 96,813 are scheduled to be destroyed by early 2002, if not by the time of the TMSP.
The speaker highlighted the difficulty encountered by developing states such as Nicaragua in funding this process, particularly in the face of competing demands.
Slovakia advised that it has destroyed its entire stockpile of APL’s, with the exception of 1,500 retained for training purposes. Prior to commencing its destruction exercise Slovakia had a total of 187,060 APL’s. The destruction was carried out between August 1999 and August 2000.
The method employed by Slovakia involved the disassembly of the mines. Total cost of the exercise was $700,000.
Honduras destroyed its stockpile of 7,741 APL’s through a method involving explosion and incineration. Honduras was the first Latin American country to destroy its stockpile. The Canadian Government assisted with the preparation of a technical assessment.
The speaker called on donor countries to contribute funds to the OAS to assist in demining efforts.
Zimbabwe’s stockpile was destroyed on 15 November 2000. Zimbabwe noted that it is willing to make available the technical details of the method employed to those States Parties interested. 700 APL’s have been retained for training purposes.
Of Slovenia’s original stockpile of 171,000 APL’s, some 10% have already been destroyed. 4,000 will be destroyed this month and another 10,000 in March 2001. The speaker advised that the number Slovenia intends to retain for training purposes will be reduced from 7,000 to 1,500.
Peru has a stockpile of 334,756 APL’s of 18 different types. Following the December 1999 meeting of the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Peru sought the assistance of the Australian Army in assessing the applicability in Peru’s case of the method developed by Australia. In June 2000, two Australian Army personnel visited Peru to conduct this assessment and train Peruvian personnel in the technique.
The cost of destruction employing this technique will be approximately $1 per mine. The Peruvian Government will require at least $335,000.
Urged those countries in a position to do so to contribute funds for Stockpile Destruction.
The spokesperson for the Croatian delegation reported that the number of APL’s Croatia had previously advised would be retained for testing purposes (17,500) would shortly be revised down to a number in the vicinity of 7,000. A testing field was being established in Croatia in which 1,000 different types of APL’s, with the explosive content intact but with the fuses disarmed, would be laid at varying depths and angles.
The destruction of Italy’s stockpile continues. As at 30 October 2000 Italy’s stockpile totaled 3,149,574, down from a peak of 6,529,809. Also, 590,572 training mines have been destroyed.
Though a non-State Party, a representative of the Belarus delegation advised that Belarus has destroyed 8,000 of its 4.5 million stockpiled APL’s. A UN assessment has determined that Belarus has no capacity to carry out the destruction of its stockpile.
In response to concerns expressed at the May 2000 Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction meeting regarding Thailand’s decision to retain 15,000 APL’s for training purposes, a representative of the Thai delegation advised that the Thai Government has decided to revise this number down to 5,000. As a regional preventative measure, the Thai Government would hope that this move will lead to international assistance.
Announced that it will destroy its entire stockpile of 94,263 APL’s in January 2001. Malaysia will retain no mines. Malaysia extended an invitation to States Parties and NGO’s to witness the destruction exercise.
Regardless of the fact that it has until 2004 under the Convention to destroy its stockpile, the Czech Republic announced that it will have completed the destruction of its stockpile by the end of 2001. 122,000 have been destroyed since becoming a State Party to the Convention and 202,000 remained to be destroyed.
Moderator; Cecilia Sanchez, Nicaragua
President’s Action Plan and Special Committee RecommendationsAdrian Wilkinson, UXO and Stockpile Destruction Study Group, GICHD
Talked about UN international standards, or in other words guidelines for the different methods used for stockpile destruction. Presently these are two international standards – IMAS 11.10 and IMAS 11.20 - with a third being developed – IMAS 11.30 – and which should be ready by the end of January 2001. IMAS 11.10 refers to the basic guidelines for the destruction of stockpiles, while IMAS 11.20 refers to open burning and detonation of stockpiles. IMAS guidelines are available by e-mail to focus and other interested groups.
Roman Hunger, Swiss Delegation
The speaker informed the Committee about the Stockpile Management Course being developed by the Swiss Government, to be held from June 11-15, 2001 near Bern. The organizers are the Joint Staff and Procurement Division of the Armed Forces of Switzerland, its goal shall be to help States Parties develop their national stockpile destruction programs. Participants shall be trained to develop and implement national programs for stockpile destruction, by using national resources, as well as in identifying international assistance programs.
In this regard, its primary goal is to improve the ability of the person(s) in charge. It was also stated that the course will strive to use the know-how of the participants, as its goal is to create managers with an international approach. The course shall include lectures, case studies, visits to sites and model destruction exercises. Its director is Dr. Roman Hunger, from the General Staff of the Swiss Armed Forces. It was stated that a maximum of 20 States Parties and Non-States Parties can be accommodated in the course (two people per delegation), and that if there was more interest the Swiss Government would repeat the course at a later date.
Melanie Regimbal, Canada
The speaker talked about the Regional Seminar on Stockpile Destruction in Buenos Aires, Argentina (November 6-7, 2000), as well as the Managua Challenge. The Buenos Aires seminar helped with bringing American countries together to identify ways to implement the Managua Challenge, which can be broken down into three points:
The OAS has for these purposes created a fund called the Managua Challenge Fund (MCF) for Stockpile Destruction, into which they hope donors shall contribute. It is estimated that 1 million USD will be needed to destroy the approximately 800,000 stockpiled mines identified in the region. Canada has already donated 200,000 USD, which means a further 800,000 is required for this task to be completed, and Canada shall make available a fact sheet outlining individual country needs for stockpile destruction upon request.
Improving the exchange of information on stockpile destructionUNMAS has established a stockpile destruction data base website (http://www.stockpiles.org ) to facilitate the exchange of information on stockpile destruction issues. This site, which is the result of an in-kind contribution by the Canadian Government, is a particularly useful tool for States Parties developing their national stockpile destruction plan. For example, if a particular State Party is looking for a suitable destruction method for a particular type of mine, it is possible to search the database by mine type to identify case studies which may be of relevance. In order to expand the site States Parties were encouraged to share information on their methods and experience with regard to Stockpile Destruction.
Destroying Mines in an Efficient and Environmentally Sound MannerMr. Lazlo Deak, former Chair of the Stockpile Destruction Standing Committee announced that Hungary and Canada would be hosting a seminar in Budapest on 1-2 February 2001, focussing on the particular problems which destruction of the PFM (or butterfly) mines represent in terms of the potential environmental impact.
Concluding RemarksThe Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction registered encouraging progress in many regions on the issue of stockpile destruction, although it also became apparent that there was a lack of information on the very existence, or number and type of stockpiled APL’s in some regions throughout the world. The Standing Committee stressed that progress in this most visible field of "preventive mine action" needs to continue, including in regard to the implementation of the Managua Challenge as well as other regional initiatives.
The Standing Committee discussions highlighted the need to identify sufficient resources to assist states with stockpile destruction operations, along with the appropriate mechanisms to effectively deliver this assistance. Coordination must be carried out among donors to identify priorities for stockpile destruction funding.
The Standing Committee also stressed the need for the process of stockpile destruction to be concluded in an environmentally sound manner, especially with regard to certain types of APL’s whose detonation can have toxic side-affects, such as with the PFM1 type of APL. Further attention to environmental policies as well as risk assessments in implementing stockpile destruction programs would be welcome.