United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Practice Relating to Rule 83. Removal or Neutralization of Landmines
The UK LOAC Pamphlet (1981), under the heading “Future Developments”, considers the possibility of a treaty imposing “an obligation to record minefields and to fit remotely delivered mines with self-neutralising mechanisms or to record their location”.
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states:
The [the 1996 Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons] contains detailed provisions on the clearance of mines and booby-traps after the cessation of active hostilities. Basically states are responsible for devices they have emplaced and for the areas under their control. There are provisions for international exchanges of information and co-operation in this respect.
In 2003, during a debate in the House of Commons, the UK Secretary of State for International Development stated:
There are absolute duties under the Ottawa convention [on Anti-Personnel Mines] to record any use of munitions that may damage civilians, and the British military fully adheres to all international treaties and humanitarian obligations. Our troops always de-mine in the first instance, as they are trying to do in the waterways of Iraq now, so that they can bring in humanitarian supplies. Thereafter, we will probably bring in UNMAS [UN Mine Action Service], the UN body that looks for mines, because Iraq will have to be de-mined if it is to be reconstructed.
In 2003, in a letter to the President of the UN Security Council, the Permanent Representatives of the United Kingdom and the United States to the United Nations wrote:
The United States, the United Kingdom and Coalition partners, working through the Coalition Provisional Authority, shall inter alia, provide for security in and for the provisional administration of Iraq, including by: … supporting and coordinating demining and related activities.
In 2003, in a written answer to a question concerning, inter alia, the removal of mines and other munitions in Iraq, the UK Minister of State for Defence stated:
Since the end of major combat operations UK and other Coalition forces have been engaged in clearing sites containing unexploded ordnance. In the UK’s area of responsibility an average of about 45 new sites have been discovered each week. Whenever a site is discovered UK forces mark the site and inform those in the vicinity. The munitions are then recovered or destroyed as soon as resources permit. To date around 1,600 sites have been cleared, containing about 619,000 munitions.
In 2004, in a written answer to a question concerning, inter alia, landmine clearance in the Falkland Islands, the UK Foreign Secretary stated:
Under the Ottawa Convention [on Anti-Personnel Mines], the obligation to clear all the landmines by 2009 falls upon the United Kingdom. States Parties in a position to do so are obliged to provide assistance for mine clearance and related activities.