Practice Relating to Rule 81. Restrictions on the Use of Landmines
Germany’s Military Manual (1992) states that the “use of mines and other devices on land is, in principle, permissible”. It adds:
It is prohibited to direct the above mentioned munitions – neither by way of reprisals – against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians. Any indiscriminate use of these weapons is prohibited. All feasible precautions shall be taken to protect civilians also from unintended effects of these munitions.
The manual further provides:
Mines and other devices shall not be used in any built-up area or other area predominantly inhabited by civilians in which combat between ground forces is neither taking place nor imminent. Exceptions are permissible if: these munitions are placed on or in the close vicinity of a military objective; or measures are taken to protect civilians from their effects, for example, the posting of warning signs, the posting of sentries, the provision of fences or the issue of warnings.
With respect to the use of remotely delivered mines, the manual provides:
This kind of weapon is prohibited unless such mines are only used within an area which is itself a military objective or which contains military objectives … If a mine does no longer serve its military purpose, a self-actuating mechanism shall ensure its destruction or neutralization within a reasonable lapse of time.
The manual also states: “Effective advance warning shall be given of any delivery or dropping of remotely delivered mines which may affect the civilian population, unless circumstances do not permit.”
Upon acceptance of the 1996 Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Germany stated:
It is understood that the provisions of the protocol shall, as the context requires, be observed at all times…
It is the understanding of Germany that the word “primarily” is included in article 2, paragraph 3 of the amended Protocol to clarify that mines designed to be detonated by the presence, proximity or contact of a vehicle as opposed to a person, that are equipped with anti-handling devices are not considered anti-personnel mines as a result of being so equipped.
It is understood that article 5, paragraph 2(b) does not preclude agreement among the states concerned, in connection with peace treaties or similar arrangements, to allocate responsibilities under paragraph 2(b) in another manner which nevertheless respects the essential spirit and purpose of the article.
In 2010, in reply to a Minor Interpellation in the Bundestag (Lower House of Parliament) entitled “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions”, Germany’s Federal Government wrote:
13. How does the Federal Government ensure that there are no civilian victims when using anti-vehicle mines that self-deactivate after a period of time?
Which rules of engagement exist on this matter?
The Bundeswehr only has anti-tank mines in its stockpile which only remain active in the ground for a certain period of time. The mines are technically constructed so that they fulfil the criteria of self-neutralization, self-deactivation and self-destruction. The rules of engagement state that active mine barriers put in place by the Bundeswehr must in principle be guarded by own troops.