Practice Relating to the Prohibition of Certain Types of Landmines
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
0429. The weapons concerned here are those named in Protocol II to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. The protocol contains rules relating to mines, etc., which are always forbidden, and rules relating to mines, etc., which are not forbidden in themselves but which, in order to protect the civilian population, can only be used under certain conditions, or when fitted with certain technical devices.
0431. A “mine” means any piece of ammunition placed under, on or just above the ground or other surface, and designed to detonate or explode in the presence or proximity of, or in contact with, a person or vehicle.
0432. An “anti-personnel mine” is a mine designed mainly to explode in the presence or proximity of (or in contact with) a person. Its purpose is to place one or more persons hors de combat, to injure or to kill.
0433. A “remotely delivered mine” is a mine delivered by artillery, rockets, mortars or similar materiel, or dropped from an aircraft.
0437. A “tamper-proof device” means a device intended to protect a mine. It is triggered when an attempt is made to tamper with the mine.
0438. A “self-neutralizing mine” means a mine which detonates or switches itself off after a certain time. A mine with a self-destruct device detonates after a given time. A “self-deactivating mine” ceases to work after a given period of time because, for example, the battery is flat.
0439. Protocol II to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons includes the following prohibitions, in Article 3:
“the use of mines, booby-traps and other devices designed to cause excessive injury or unnecessary suffering or which, by their nature, may cause such injury or suffering;
the use of mines, booby-traps and other devices fitted with an appliance specially designed to cause munitions to explode under the influence of a magnetic field (or something else) as a consequence of the presence of a normally available mine detector;
the use of self-deactivating mines, equipped with an anti-handling device, which are designed so that the anti-handling device can continue to function when the mine itself is deactivated.”
0440. Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons of 1980 prohibits the use of undetectable anti-personnel mines. Remotely laid anti-personnel mines should meet requirements for self-destruction and self-deactivation.
0441. In relation to anti-personnel mines, the most important convention for the Netherlands is the Anti-Personnel Mines Convention (also called the Ottawa Treaty). Because the Netherlands has ratified this Convention, the Dutch armed forces are no longer permitted to use anti-personnel mines which explode automatically in the presence or proximity of (or in contact with) a person.
The use of weapons which act horizontally and are operated by military personnel is, however, permitted. Such a horizontal-action weapon is activated by the operator, by means of a wire trigger. The trigger activates the control by a mechanism which the operator fires the weapon, but does not respond if someone inadvertently or deliberately moves it. Because these weapons are remotely operated, they fall within the definition of “other devices”.
0442. Anti-tank mines
Each remotely delivered anti-tank mine should, as far as possible, be fitted with a self-neutralizing device and a supplementary device for deactivation. Although the Conventions do not require self-neutralizing devices to be fitted to mines not delivered remotely, such as hand-laid mines, the Netherlands does fulfil this requirement. Besides, such mines should be detectable with currently available metal detectors.
In its chapter on non-international armed conflict, the manual states:
It is prohibited to use weapons causing unnecessary suffering or excessive injury, or that are indiscriminate. This means that … anti-personnel mines and booby traps … are forbidden.
In its chapter on peace operations, the manual states:
Rules to minimize collateral damage can also be found in the RoE [Rules of Engagement]. However broadly the RoE are drafted, each participating country is also bound by the international conventions which it has ratified. Thus the use of anti-personnel land mines may be permitted in the RoE, but the Dutch commander may not use them, because the prohibition on the use of anti-personnel mines applies to the Netherlands (the Netherlands is bound by the Ottawa Convention of 18 September 1997 on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and their Destruction). Because the national scope of RoE is at least as important to the military as the international rules, it will often happen that each country participating in a peace operation issues its own RoE, often more restrictive than the “international” RoE.
The Netherlands has passed national legislation enacting comprehensive prohibitions on the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines.
On 25 August 1995, just before the opening session of the Review Conference of the States Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, in a letter to Parliament on landmines, the Dutch Ministers of Foreign Affairs, of Defence and for Development Cooperation outlined the government’s view at that time. The ministers explained that a comprehensive ban on landmines might be achieved in the long term but doubted its feasibility given the lack of international support for a ban; they also noted that there was still a militarily justifiable need for anti-personnel mines.
But public pressure resulted in the Minister of Defence ordering a review of the Dutch army’s need of anti-personnel landmines in December 1995. This review led to the decision by the government to ban the use and possession of anti-personnel landmines within the Dutch army in March 1996 with broad parliamentary approval.
Thus the Netherlands became one of the first countries to give up the weapon and became a leader in the global movement to achieve a total ban.
In June 1996, the Dutch Government expressed its disappointment at the outcome of the Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, and noted, therefore, its decision to accept the Canadian Government’s invitation to participate in a conference in Ottawa, Canada, in October 1996 to develop a strategy to ban anti-personnel landmines.
At the same time it pleaded for a ban within the European Union and NATO. The Netherlands became a strong pro-ban country and a member of the core group of countries that took responsibility for developing and promoting the mine ban treaty.