United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Practice Relating to Rule 81. Restrictions on the Use of Landmines
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states:
6.14.2. The following rules apply to anti-vehicle mines:
a. they may only be deployed against or to protect military objectives,
b. may not be directed against civilians, even by way of reprisals,
c. indiscriminate use is prohibited,
d. feasible precautions must be taken to protect civilians from their effects,
e. effective advance warning must be given of any deployment of mines that might affect the civilian population unless circumstances do not permit, and
f. mines must not be of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering.
Civilian protection factors
6.14.3. In considering the protection of the civilian population, regard should be had to the following factors, though these are not exclusive:
a. The short and long-term effect of mines on the local civilian population for the duration of the minefield;
b. Possible measures to protect civilians (for example, fencing, signs, warning and monitoring);
c. The availability and feasibility of using alternatives to mines;
d. The short and long-term military requirements for a minefield.
6.14.4. It is prohibited to use remotely delivered anti-vehicle mines “unless, to the extent feasible, they are equipped with an effective self-destruction or self-neutralization mechanism and have a back-up self-deactivation feature, which is designed so that the mine will no longer function as a mine when the mine no longer serves the military purpose for which it was placed in position.”
6.14.5. There is an international warning symbol for mined areas.
6.14.7. If requested by the head of a relevant force or mission, and in the case of UN forces or missions so far as they are able, armed forces in conflict are required to protect the following from the effects of mines:
a. UN peacekeeping forces or missions;
b. Any of the following if they have the consent of the state in whose territory they are operating:
(1) UN missions under Chapter VIII of the UN Charter,
(2) UN humanitarian and factfinding missions,
(3) Missions of the International Committee of the Red Cross or national Red Cross or Red Crescent Societies or similar humanitarian missions.
6.14.8. The protection that can be afforded will depend on the circumstances and the tactical situation but commanders will need to consider:
a. Clearance of devices or clearing lanes or routes;
b. Giving information to the head of the mission about the location of devices or about safe routes.
6.14.9. Any information provided is to be treated in strict confidence by the recipient and not released outside the force or mission without the express authority of the giver of the information.
In its chapter on the application of the law of armed conflict during peace-support operations, the manual states:
Insofar as a party to an armed conflict is not subject to a more extensive prohibition or restriction on the use of landmines, the Mines Protocol to the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons [the 1980 Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons] requires it to take certain steps to protect United Nations forces from mines and booby-traps.
In 1976, during a meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on Conventional Weapons established by the CDDH, the United Kingdom, introducing a working paper on the regulation of the use of landmines and other devices on behalf of France, Netherlands and United Kingdom, stated:
Article 2 of the present working paper … required the location of minefields to be recorded. It should, however, be noted that the amount of detail in which the recording was made would depend on the type of minefield in question. Where mines were laid by engineers, it might be possible to record the location of each one; in minefields laid by artillery, however, it would only be possible to record the area covered.
In 1993, during a debate in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, the United Kingdom stated that while it “strongly supported international action on the indiscriminate laying of non-self-destructing mines … Protocol II to the inhumane weapons convention permitted self-destructing or self-neutralizing anti-personnel mines as legitimate forms of self-defence if directed at military targets”.
In 1995, during a debate in the House of Commons, the UK Minister of State for Defence Procurement stated: “The parties in the conflict in the former Yugoslavia have indiscriminately sown anti-personnel land mines. That may be in direct contravention of the [1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons].”