Practice Relating to the Prohibition of Certain Types of Landmines
Ireland’s Explosives (Landmine) Order (1996) provides:
(1) No person shall manufacture, keep, import into the State, convey or sell any land mine.
(2) In this Article "land mine" means any munition designed to be placed under, on or near the ground or other surface area and designed to be detonated or exploded by the presence or proximity of, or contact with, a person or vehicle.
Ireland’s Cluster Munitions and Anti-Personnel Mines Act (2008) states that “‘anti-personnel mine’ means a mine designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person and that is capable of incapacitating, injuring or killing one or more persons”.
The Act further states:
9. (1) Subject to section 10, a person who—
(b) develops or produces,
(d) possesses or retains, or
(e) transfers to any person:
an anti-personnel mine is guilty of an offence.
(2) Subject to section 10, a person who assists, encourages or induces a person to commit an offence under subsection (1) is guilty of an offence.
(3) Subsections (1) and (2) apply to an act committed outside the State if the act—
(a) is committed on board an Irish ship,
(b) is committed on an aircraft registered in the State, or
(c) is committed by a member of the Defence Forces.
10. (1) Section 9 does not apply to—
(b) the possession, retention or transfer of an anti-personnel mine—
(i) by a member of the Defence Forces in the course of his or her duties for the purpose of—
(I) rendering that anti-personnel mine harmless, or
(II) the future destruction of that anti-personnel mine.
Already in 1994, at the beginning of the review process of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Ireland supported a ban on anti-personnel landmines. Ireland became a member of the core group of countries that took responsibility for developing and promoting the mine ban treaty. In his speech at the mine ban treaty signing conference in Ottawa, Canada, in December 1997, the Irish Foreign Minister, David Andrews, stated:
International public opinion will not tolerate for much longer the absence of countries, in particular significant states, from the roll call of States Parties to this most significant instrument for the abolition of lethal devices which serve no military purpose and the use of which or the preparation for the use of which must quickly be deemed unacceptable anywhere by anyone.
On the basis of the Explosives Act originating in 1875, a legislative ban on anti-personnel landmines was passed in the Dáil on 12 June 1996 entitled Explosives (Land Mines) Order, 1996. In her statement on the law, the Minister of State, Joan Burton, said that the Order “copperfastens our national policy of not allowing the manufacture, sale or import of landmines. It significantly enhances our international advocacy of a total ban on antipersonnel landmines.” The minister clarified that the Order, however, did not apply to Defence Forces. Burton also stated that the government had requested a review by the Minister of Defence with a view to renouncing operational use of anti-personnel landmines by the Defence Forces.
Ireland came to the view that it could and must also prohibit the use of anti-personnel landmines.