Weapons: The Impossible Dreams


April 22, 2009: Ethiopia has destroyed its stockpile of 55,569 anti-personnel-mines, in compliance with the 1999 Ottawa Convention (to ban landmines). It has kept 1,114 mines for training and identification purposes. There are still thousands of land mines to be cleared, and the possibility that hostile neighbors (Eritrea and Somalia) may employ them. In the first few years after the1999  Ottawa Convention was signed, over 25 million landmines, in the arsenals of over fifty nations, were destroyed.

The 1999 Ottawa Convention was supposed to have reduced land mine casualties among civilians. It hasn't worked, because the largest manufacturers of land mines, Russia and China, refused to sign. Chinese land mines are still available on the international arms black market. China is believed to have a stockpile of over a hundred million land mines (mostly anti-personnel). The old ones are often sold before they become worthless. But even these mines, which go for $5-10 each, are too expensive for many of the criminal organizations that buy them. In Colombia, leftist rebels are losing their four decade war to establish a socialist dictatorship. So they have been using more land mines against soldiers and police, as well as civilian populations they want to control. This was how land mines were widely used in Afghanistan and Cambodia. In Colombia, the rebels find it cheaper to build their own landmines. Labor is cheap, as are the components. Thus land mines, competitive with the factory built ones from China, can be built for less than three dollars each. You can find all the technical data you need on the Internet.

Anti-vehicle mines are increasingly popular, and are particularly popular in poor countries where there are still a lot of dirt roads, traveled by busses and trucks carrying dozens of passengers each. While these mines are usually intended for military vehicles, mines can't tell the difference. As a result, in this year or next, Colombia will have the largest number of annual mine casualties in the world.


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