Marking mine and ERW hazards

  • Version
    Ed. 2, Amendment 4
  • Latest amendment
    01 Jun 2013

The marking of mine and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) hazards, (including unexploded sub-munitions), is undertaken to provide a clear and unambiguous warning of danger to men, women and children in the affected community, and where possible to install a physical barrier to reduce the risk of unintentional entry into hazardous areas.

This standard draws on the three conventions in international humanitarian law which deal with landmines and ERW, including unexploded sub-munitions: 1) the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC or Ottawa Convention); 2) Amended Protocols II and V to the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW); and 3) the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). Countries that are States Party to these conventions and Protocols have certain specific obligations regarding the marking of hazards.

Each State Party to the APMBC is obliged '... to ensure as soon as possible that all Anti- Personnel Mines (APM) in mined areas under its jurisdiction or control are perimeter-marked, monitored and protected by fencing or other means, to ensure the effective exclusion of civilians, until all APM contained therein have been destroyed.' The APMBC requires the marking to be '... at least to the standards set out in Amended Protocol II.'

Amended Protocol II of the CCW requires States Party to ensure '... the effective exclusion of civilians from the (mined) area by fencing or other means. ... Marking must be of a distinct and durable character and must at least be visible to a person who is about to enter the perimeter- marked area.’ Amended Protocol II provides an example and specifications for the marking of minefields and mined areas and requires that signs similar (but not necessarily identical) to the example and the specifications are used '... to ensure their visibility and recognition by the civilian population.'

Protocol V of the CCW requires States Party to ensure”.....when possible, at any time during the course of a conflict and thereafter, where explosive remnants of war exist the parties to a conflict should, at the earliest possible time and to maximum extent possible, ensure that areas containing explosive remnants of war are marked, fenced and monitored so as to ensure the effective exclusion of civilians, in accordance with the following provisions.”

The Convention on Cluster Munitions in Article 4, for example, requires States Party to ensure“....all feasible steps to ensure that all cluster munition contaminated areas under its jurisdiction or control are perimeter-marked, monitored and protected by fencing or other means to ensure the effective exclusion of civilians. Warning signs based on methods of marking readily recognizable by the affected community should be utilized in the marking of suspected hazardous areas. Signs and other hazardous area boundary markers should, as far as possible, be visible, legible, durable and resistant to environmental effects and should clearly identify which side of the marked boundary is considered to be within the cluster munition contaminated areas and which side is considered to be safe.

The provisions of this standard do not replace the obligations detailed in the conventions, and States Party should be fully conversant with their legal obligations in respect to them.

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