Practice Relating to Rule 81. Restrictions on the Use of Landmines
Switzerland’s Regulation on Legal Bases for Conduct during an Engagement (2005) states:
16.1 Prohibited means of warfare
228 Prohibited are:
2 anti-personnel mines and booby-traps;*
(* = Convention not yet ratified by all States)
229 The production, stockpiling, import, export, transit and use of such means of combat are notably prohibited.
16.2 Means of warfare permitted under conditions
231 These include:
1 anti-tank mines: the details are regulated by the corresponding convention;
2 sea mines (not available in Switzerland)[.]
At the Preparatory Conference for the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Switzerland stated that it supported “the prohibition or extensive restriction of the use of mines and booby-traps, backed by the necessary guarantees”.
Upon acceptance of the 1996 Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Switzerland declared that it “interprets the definition of ‘anti-personnel mine’ as excluding any mine designed to explode in the presence or proximity of, or upon contact with, a vehicle, when such mine is equipped with an anti-handling device”.
In 2007, in its Mine Action Strategy 2008 to 2011, Switzerland states:
- Legal obligations
: In the course of the 1990s, the international community pursued significant efforts aimed at limiting the grave humanitarian consequences of the problems associated with landmines … New legal instruments were created that restrict the use of landmines.
Switzerland’s ABC of International Humanitarian Law (2009) states:
Mines are weapons that explode in direct or indirect contact with people (or animals) or vehicles (anti-personnel mines/anti-vehicle mines). They can be deployed on top of the ground, below ground or near the ground surface or on a different type of surface. The Second Protocol to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons regulates the deployment and transfer of all types of land mines. The so-called “Ottawa Convention” of 1997 prohibits the use, stockpiling, manufacture, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines. It also addresses such issues as mine clearance and destruction, as well as measures to help the victims of mines. The Ottawa Convention has yet to be ratified however by some of the most important military powers.
International humanitarian law imposes limitations, in some cases a total ban, on the use of weapons whose impact goes beyond the permissible purpose of weakening the enemy. Weapons are prohibited on the basis of three fundamental criteria: if their use inevitably leads to death; if they cause disproportionate injury or Unnecessary suffering
; if they strike indiscriminately. On the basis of these three criteria a number of specific weapons have been explicitly prohibited by international conventions, including Anti-personnel mines
, … . Some of these bans are part of Customary international law
In 2013, in a statement before the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, the permanent representative of Switzerland stated:
In this context, Switzerland is also deeply concerned about the use of cluster munitions and antiper-sonnel landmines in Syria. It is essential that all parties to the conflict abide by all their obligations under international law, particularly the obligation to take all necessary measures to protect the civilian population as well as persons who are not or no longer participating in hostilities.
In 2013, in a statement at the Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the permanent representative of Switzerland stated:
The community of States cannot remain indifferent to the human suffering caused by armed conflicts. It was in direct response to this fundamental concern that the CCW [1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons] and its protocols were adopted, with a view to prohibiting or limiting the use of certain specific types of weapon known to inflict superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering, or to strike indiscriminately.
In this regard, Switzerland is deeply concerned by the alleged use of weapons in Syria falling within the ambit of the CCW and its respective protocols, such as the alleged use of anti-personnel mines as well as the alleged use of incendiary weapons in populated areas causing severe human suffering. We call upon all parties to the conflict to comply with their obligations under international law, in particular the principles of distinction, precaution, and proportionality.
Another subject which remains important for Switzerland is that of mines other than anti-personnel mines (MOTAPM). The impact of these mines in humanitarian terms on civilian populations and personnel engaged in peacekeeping missions, humanitarian activities or development work has been a matter of concern to Switzerland for a long time and it is our view that clear standards must be set in this area.