Mines other than anti-personnel mines (MOTAPM)

Mine other than an anti-personnel mine

What are MOTAPM?

Mines other than anti-personnel mines (MOTAPM) refers to anti-vehicle mines. Unlike anti-personnel mines, this type of mine is activated by a vehicle driving over it, rather than a person stepping on it. MOTAPM includes anti-tank mines.

Background on MOTAPM within the CCW

The issue of MOTAPM prior and during the Second Review Conference

Humanitarian concerns related to MOTAPM had been raised during the negotiations of the Convention of Protocol II in the 1970s, but with limited consideration. MOTAPM were part of the negotiations on Amended Protocol II during the First CCW Review Conference in 1995-1996. At the time, efforts were focused on addressing the significant humanitarian impact of anti-personnel landmines. For this reason, Amended Protocol II includes specific restrictions on the employment of anti-personnel mines and only general provisions concerning restrictions on the use of all types of mines.

At the Preparatory Committee for the Second Review Conference in 2000-2001, Denmark and the United States of America tabled an official proposal for a new Protocol on MOTAPM. Due to persistent divergent views, the December 2001 Second Review Conference did not adopt a new Protocol on MOTAPM, and instead decided to create an open-ended Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) to address the issue.

Period between the Second and Third Review Conferences, 2001 to 2006

During this period, various international organizations and non-governmental organizations continued to emphasize the importance of agreeing on a legally binding instrument on MOTAPM. For example, a July 2002 report by the ICRC called for additional measures namely “requiring that all AV mines should be detectable and equipped with either self-destruct or self-neutralization features as well as requiring that remotely delivered AV mines contain self-destruct or self-neutralization features.”

New ideas were brought forward for the development of more effective controls over MOTAPM, which included: MOTAPM with sensitive fuses; MOTAPM with anti-handling devices; MOTAPM laid outside marked and fenced areas; warnings to civilians; the use of MOTAPM by non-state actors; transfers; transparency and confidence-building measures; and international cooperation and assistance.

A new Protocol on MOTAPM incorporated all additional proposals and was co-sponsored by 31 states. However, despite efforts made by the GGE on MOTAPM between 2001 and 2006, it was not possible to eliminate differences, specifically with regard to issues of detectability and active life.

The Third Review Conference of the CCW could not agree on a new protocol containing legally binding rules with regard to MOTAPM. Rather, the States Parties decided to maintain the issue of MOTAPM on the agendas of annual Meetings of the States Parties to the CCW.

Due to the concerns regarding the humanitarian impact of MOTAPM, several CCW States Parties committed politically in a special declaration their intention to take the necessary steps to adopt as a matter of national policy the practices that were developed in the draft Protocol on MOTAPM. These states declared: “if circumstances change in the future, and it appears possible that consensus may be achieved on a protocol on anti-vehicle mines…they would join other governments in renewed efforts to adopt such a protocol, building on the work done on this subject over the last five years by the CCW coordinators.”

Report of the 2012 Meeting of Experts on Mines Other Than Anti-Personnel Mines (MOTAPM)

The Fourth Review Conference High Contracting Parties decided:

To discuss further the implementation of international humanitarian law as it pertains to mines other than anti-personnel mines, and to submit a report to the 2012 Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention.

The 2012 Meeting of Experts discussed the following issues: current status of international humanitarian law on MOTAPM; measures taken by States and existing international humanitarian law (IHL); humanitarian impact of MOTAPM use; National policies on the use of MOTAPM; possible measures to address the humanitarian impact of MOTAPM use.

In past CCW discussions and during the 2012 Meeting of Experts, the requirement for MOTAPM to be detectable was a key issue. One of the major problems is that undetectable MOTAPM create considerable difficulties and costs for clearance operations, which in turn can drastically slow down or halt the delivery of humanitarian aid and movement in an area. However, the argument against detectability is that the financial costs of making MOTAPM detectable are prohibitive and the military utility of non-detectable MOTAPM much too valuable to forgo. Another crucial issue was reducing the active life of MOTAPM through self-destruct, self-neutralisation and self-deactivation devices. Other issues focused on the protection of civilians through perimeter marked areas; monitoring and security of minefields containing MOTAPM; addressing sensitive fuses and anti-handling devices; victim assistance; and cooperation and assistance.

The MOTAPM Meeting of Experts as required by its mandate submitted a report to the Meeting of High Contracting Parties to the CCW, which took place from 15 to 16 November 2012. Although the CCW Meeting “welcomed the Report of the Meeting of Experts on MOTAPM and expressed its appreciation for the work carried out by Colonel Jim Burke of Ireland for his role as Friend of the Chair on MOTAPM”, the Experts were unable reach agreement on further work on this matter. Instead MOTAPM will be on the agenda for the 2013 Meeting of High Contracting Parties.

High level statements on MOTAPM

At the beginning of the 2012 Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the CCW, the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon stated:

First, in my last report to the Security Council on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, I welcomed the work carried out on anti-vehicle mines this year under the aegis of the Convention. I strongly urge High Contracting Parties to continue to explore all possible avenues for ensuring that these weapons no longer harm civilians, impede the delivery of humanitarian aid or obstruct social and economic development. In doing so, I encourage Parties to consider the views and field experiences of United Nations entities.”

The Report of the Secretary-General on the protection of civilians in armed conflict is attached here

Attached here is an article on MOTAPM by the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, Mr. Kassym-Jomart Takoyev.