by Abigail Eisley [ Center for International Stabilization and Recovery ]
Chilean involvement in landmine distribution began in the 1970s during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship. Due to strained political relations, Pinochet ordered hundreds of thousands of landmines to be emplaced along the Argentine, Bolivian and Peruvian borders as a defensive measure. Many of these landmines were located in rugged terrain with unpredictable weather, making landmine removal a difficult and expensive task. Landmine use and distribution halted when the Chilean Foreign Ministry stated “its firm and decided commitment, ... in 1985, not to produce, export, import, or lay new landmines.”1 Since this declaration, Chile has made many strides to remove the remaining landmines and offer landmine education. The government works with many different international and national organizations on landmine removal, thereby building its own mine-action capacity.
By December 2003, Chile completed the destruction of 59,0002 stockpiled mines with help from the Chilean Army and Navy through the Organization of American States’ mine action program, the Acción Integral contra las Minas Antipersonal (Comprehensive Action Against Antipersonnel Mines).1 This goal was completed about two years before the Ottawa Convention3 required, proving Chile’s commitment to landmine removal.4 Chile signed the Convention in 1997 and became a State Party in 2002. As of April 2007, the Comisión Nacional de Desminado5 (Chilean National Demining Commission) declared that 123,439 landmines remained in 181 minefields, covering 15 hectares (37 acres), mostly in hard-to-reach places with few inhabitants. The other 70 percent of mines laid during the Pinochet regime were destroyed2 after Chile signed the Ottawa Convention. Landmine removal was consistent with the United Nations’ International Mine Action Standards,6 and only a few thousand landmines have been retained for mine-action training purposes.3
Aside from the Ottawa Convention, Chile is also a member of the Human Security Network, where AP mine action is of great importance. Chile has ratified Protocol II of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons,7 which restricts the use of mines, booby-traps and other devices. In 2008, Chile promised to put US$9 million toward removing its last 123,000 landmines, with a projected end date of 20168; some reports4 stated 2012 as an early end date. CNAD works with the President of Chile and serves as the Interministerial Coordinator for activities pertaining to the Ottawa Convention. CNAD’s main objective is to deter the use and production of landmines, working with organizations internationally to eradicate Chile’s landmine problem.9 Despite most landmines having been emplaced in difficult terrains with ranging weather conditions, the remaining landmines are being removed in a timely manner. To do this, Chile has received financial assistance from Canada, the European Union, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United States and the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining.9, 10 During 2007, Chile received $420,000 from international sources and put $1.2 million of its own money toward demining. In September 2008, Chile used this money to purchase two MineWolf machines, as well as to fund a training workshop and buy spare parts for the machines. MineWolf provided training for six mechanics in Chile, who were ready to work in March 2009.11
There were 88 landmine casualties between 1976 and 1990, 12 of which resulted in death. Five of the deaths and 15 of the casualties were among military personnel.12 According to the 2008 Landmine Monitor Report,13 there have been two landmine-related deaths since 2006. There is no conclusive evidence on how many injuries have been sustained. In 2006, as a part of CNAD’s removal initiatives, a survey concerning injuries due to mines and other explosive remnants of war14 was sent to individuals living near minefields to provide better survivor assistance and compensation,4 and to determine how many injuries have occurred. Policia de Investigaciones, (the Chilean investigative police), has been given the responsibility of locating landmine victims and discovering incidents that have occurred since the Pinochet dictatorship, although its results have been widely questioned by nongovernmental organizations.14 CNAD, along with the Chilean government, has given monetary assistance to mine-accident victims and the communities affected by landmine explosions. Recently, Chile drafted a “law of reparations,” which focuses on standardizing compensation given to victims and their families.15
Chile has made many strides to educate its citizens on the prevention of further landmine casualties. CNAD has distributed pamphlets containing preventive procedures for those who reside in or transit through affected areas,9 while also marking existing minefields as a precautionary measure. This year, Chile’s mine-action goals include instituting the Campaign for Prevention and Mine Risk Education in schools in close proximity to minefields, which CNAD, local NGOs and the Ministry of Education are running.9 CNAD is also working in collaboration with the National Tourism Service to provide MRE to domestic and foreign tourists, in addition to local corporations.9
Chile is a State Party to the Ottawa Convention, but has not yet created national legislation to fully implement the requirements; however, Chile has shown commitment to the Convention through its efforts to destroy its stockpile before the Ottawa-imposed deadline. Active participation with the convention and the creation of CNAD have allowed Chile to collaborate with other countries and learn new techniques for landmine removal and mine-risk education. There have been very few landmine casualties, and those that have occurred are being investigated by officials. According to Philipp von Michaelis at MineWolf, “Chile is well-prepared to make significant progress in clearing their minefields in the years to come.”11 This fact is obvious, as Chile has taken many positive steps beyond its mandated requirements, and the country is becoming a leader in mine-action initiatives with national and international assistance.
Abigail Eisley graduated from James Madison University in May 2009, with a Bachelor of Arts in justice studies and a minor in French. She was also in the JMU Honors Program. She is from Arlington, Virginia, and worked as an Editorial/Research Assistant at CISR from August 2008 through May 2009.
- “Chile.” Landmine Monitor Report 2004. http://lm.icbl.org/index.php/publications/display?url=lm/2004/chile.html. Accessed 20 March 2009.
- Muñoz, Carlos. “Statement by Mr. Muñoz: Chile.” Security Council Meeting on the Importance of Mine Action in Peacekeeping Operations, 13 November 2003. http://www.mineaction.org/doc.asp?d=287. Accessed 4 February 2009.
- Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, Oslo, Norway. 18 September 1997. The document was opened for signature in Ottawa, Canada, 3 December 1997, commonly known as the Ottawa Convention. http://www.icbl.org/treaty/text/english. Accessed 18 March 2009.
- “Chile.” Landmine Monitor Report 2007. http://lm.icbl.org/index.php/publications/display?url=lm/2007/chile.html. Accessed 4 February 2009.
- Comisión Nacional de Desminadowas created in 2002 to ensure fulfillment of the Ottawa Convention and is responsible for proposing policies, legal norms and plans for compliance with the Ottawa Convention, while obtaining resources to develop national humanitarian mine-clearance plans.
- United Nations Mine Action Service (2003). New York: UNMAS. International Mine Action Standards. IMAS online: http://www.mineactionstandards.org. Accessed 5 June 2009.
- Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects, Geneva, Switzerland, 10 October 1980. This Convention is also referred to as the CCW or CCCW. http://disarmament.un.org/ccw/. Accessed 23 March 2009.
- “Chile to Spend Millions Removing Borders’ Landmines.” Merco Press. http://en.mercopress.com/2008/03/26/chile-to-spend-millions-removing-borders-landmines. Accessed 4 February 2009.
- National Commission for Humanitarian Demining. http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.cnad.cl/&sa=X&oi=translate&resnum=1&ct =result&prev=/search%3Fq%3DCOMISI%25C3%2593N%2BNACIONAL%2BDE%2BDESMINADO%26hl%3Den% 26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-US:official%26hs%3D4V1%26sa%3DG. Accessed 25 March 2009.
- “Overview.” Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining. www.gichd.org. Accessed 25 March 2009.
- E-mail correspondence with Philipp von Michaelis of MineWolf. 17 December 2008.
- “Appendix F: Hidden Killers 2001—The World’s Landmine Problem.” To Walk the Earth in Safety: The United States Commitment to Humanitarian Demining, November 2001: A-50. http://www.state.gov/t/pm/rls/rpt/walkearth/2001/index.htm. Accessed 15 July 2009.
- “Chile.” Landmine Monitor Report 2008. http://lm.icbl.org/index.php/publications/display?url=lm/2008/countries/chile.html. Accessed 4 February 2009.
- Editor’s Note: Some organizations consider mines and ERW to be two separate entities, since they are regulated by different legal documents (the former by the Ottawa Convention and Amended Protocol II of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the latter by CCW Protocol V). However, since mines are explosive devices that have similar effects to other ERW and it is often impossible to separate the two during clearance operations, some in the community have adopted a “working definition” (as opposed to a legal one) of ERW in which it is a blanket term that includes mines, UXO, abandoned explosive ordnance and other explosive devices.
The Journal of ERW and Mine Action
Mine Action Information Center
Center for International Stabilization and Recovery
James Madison University