Strategy of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement on Landmines


adopted at the Council of Delegates - October 29-30, 1999 (Resolution 10)



The purpose of the Movement Strategy on Landmines is to provide stimulus, guidance and support for coherent action by the Red Cross/RedCrescent in this area for the next five years.

The Strategy contains background information on past Red Cross/Red Crescent activities, an overview of assumptions and constraints, overall objectives for the promotion of international norms, mine awareness, the protection of the civilian population, care and assistance to mine victims, and ways of taking concerted action in the future.

The Strategy emphasizes the importance of unity and cooperation among the Movement's components, and emphasizes that their institutional knowledge and capacity must be strengthened. It calls for an effective exchange of information and communication, with a lead role assumed by the ICRC.

National Societies are the most powerful Red Cross/Red Crescent advocates at country level, and the Strategy aims to help them, with the support of the ICRC and the International Federation, to gain the skills and mobilize the resources they need to become effective campaigners and players in long-term mine-related activities.



  • To achieve universal adherence to and effective implementation of the norms established by the Ottawa Treaty and amended Protocol II to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

  • To reduce civilian casualties in mine-contaminated areas through community-based education programmes about mine risks.

  • To remind parties to armed conflicts of their responsibility to comply with humanitarian law as regards landmines, and of the humanitarian consequences of the use of mines.

  • To ensure that mine victims have equal and impartial access to proper care and assistance.

  • To assist the National Societies of the most affected countries in incorporating mine-related activities and services into their regular programmes,and to support National Society endeavours on mine-related issues.

  • To cooperate with mine-clearance organizations according to humanitarian priorities, by developing mine-awareness activities and providing medical assistance to clearance teams, in accordance with the Guidelines on Red Cross/Red Crescent involvement in mine-clearance activities , adopted at the 1997 session of the Council of Delegates.






The Ottawa treaty banning the production, development, transfer, stockpiling and use of anti-personnel landmines was ratified by the requ ired number of States in 1998 and entered into force on 1 March 1999. As at 30 April 1999, 133 States had signed the treaty and 74 had ratified it. Those States which have not yet signed or ratified the treaty must do so if future crises are to be prevented. The treaty must be universally accepted as the fundamental norm governing anti-personnel mines. All States must be encouraged rapidly to implement the treaty's provisions on the destruction of stockpiles, mine clearance, mine awareness, and victim care and assistance.

Amended Protocol II to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) limits the use of anti-personnel mines and also governs the use of landmines not covered by the Ottawa treaty (namely anti-vehicle mines). It entered into force in 1998. It will be reviewed and hopefully strengthened in 2001.

The ICRC played a significant role in the promotion and negotiation of both treaties. It worked closely with National Society legal advisers in developing the Movement's position on the matter and in commenting on draft texts and proposals. National Society representatives also served on the ICRC and Federation delegations to the relevant diplomatic conferences. Many National Society legal advisers played a major role in national efforts to obtain a ban on anti-personnel landmines and ratification of the treaties.

Securing universal accession to and implementation of both treaties requires further efforts on the part of the entire Movement. National Society initiatives are particularly important in enhancing government awareness and understanding of both treaties and their relevance in addressing the problem.


The constraints are:

- security concerns and the need to protect lon g borders;

- a military preference for a step-by-step approach until alternatives are found;

- lack of understanding about the scope of the treaties, the extent of their prohibitions and obligations, and the types of mines and weapons they ban;

- a shortage of funds to implement the treaty obligations.


The strategies are to:

- encourage governments which have not yet done so to adopt a pro-ban position, by signing and ratifying the Ottawa treaty;

- maintain awareness about the mines issue among the general public in order to create the political will in support of ratification and rapid implementation;

- engage the military in discussion of the landmines problem, humanitarian law and alternatives to anti-personnel mines.


The objectives are to obtain:

- universal ratification of the Ottawa treaty, particularly from major mine producers;

- universal ratification of amended Protocol II (and the CCW's other three Protocols, including the Protocol on blinding laser weapons);

- the adoption of national legislation for implementation of the above treaties;

- a ban on the transfer of all anti-personnel mines;

- ratification of the Ottawa treaty by two or more additional regional powers;

- stronger CCW provisions on anti-vehicle mines, to be negotiated at the Review Conference in 2001;

- the destruction of stockpiles;

- universal stigmatization of the use of anti-personnel mines, wherever it may occur.


a) All components of the Movement are asked to pursue their efforts to promote awareness of and accession to the Ottawa treaty and amended Protocol II through, among other things, international meetings, regional seminars and the placement of advertisements in the international media.

b) The ICRC should monitor interpretations of the treaties, new technological developments which may have an impact on them or their objectives, and developments in other international fora which may undermine or weaken the norms established. It will assist National Societies in their efforts to obtain ratification of the treaties.

 I. In States which  have   ratified the treaties :

a) National Societies will work with their governments to ensure that the treaties are implemented, by means inter alia of national implementing legislation, regulations, administrative orders and other measures.

b) The ICRC Legal Division will provide the National Societies with technical expertise, material and advice in their endeavours to obtain government implementation of the treaties.

 II. In States which  have not   ratified the treaties :

a) National Societies  are asked to encourage their governments to accede to the Ottawa treaty and amended Protocol II by organizing public events and/or entering into dialogue with government officials.

b) The ICRC will promote discussion within military circles of the landmine problem and accession to the treaties at the earliest possible date.



Mine awareness is an essential means of preventing mine-related deaths and injuries among the civilian population in mine-affected countries. 

The Movement's global network, experience in the field and relations with the community give it a comparative advantage in helping the civilian population protect itself from a life-threatening risk.


The constraints are:

- the need for a solid and extensive community-based and participatory approach if mine-awareness programmes are to be effective;

- the lack of commitment to make mine awareness one of the Movement's priorities;

- the absence of an overall approach including the various areas of mine action;

- insufficient incorporation of mine-awareness activities in the overall programmes of National Societies;

- a shortage of human resources within the Movement with e xpertise and experience in mine-awareness activities.


The strategy is:

- to adopt a community-based approach for any new programme, and to implement it in cooperation with National Societies;

- to ensure that mine-awareness programmes are incorporated in the regular activities of the National Societies;

- to establish professional development training on landmines-related issues for selected Red Cross and Red Crescent employees in order to have a core group of " experts " ;

- to promote improved cooperation between emergency/relief/development organizations involved in mine action;

- to influence the conduct of arms bearers by promoting humanitarian law on issues such as indiscriminate mine usage and non-compliance with proper mine-laying procedures. The question of the military usefulness of anti-personnel mines should be systematically included in dissemination sessions for the armed forces.


The objectives are:

- to reduce the risk of civilian casualties in mine-contaminated areas;

- to reinforce existing mine-awareness programmes in an effective manner;

- to encourage and promote mine awareness as a National Society activity in mine-affected countries;

- to carry out assessments and surveys so as to determine the feasibility of and need for additional projects and, if appropriate, to support them.


 The National Societies in mine-affected countries will :

- assess the need for and feasibility of mine-awareness programmes and establish a plan of action for the implementation of such activities, seeking the support of other partners whenever necessary;

- carry out activities to promote mine-related issues with a view to ensuring greater respect for existing humanitarian law instruments and preventing the indiscriminate use of mines.

 The ICRC will :

- establish a list of countries in which mine-awareness activities should be a priority, said list to include the countries most affected by landmines and those countries in which mine-awareness programmes have already been started by a component of the Movement and should be pursued;

- support mine-awareness activities carried out by National Societies, promote the development of such activities, and complement them whenever necessary;

- consider implementing mine-awareness programmes as part of its operations and activities for the civilian population in countries or territories where a National Society does not exist or where it may not be in a position to implement such activities;

- make every effort to influence the conduct of soldiers in battle and of other arms bearers by promoting humanitarian law on issues such as the indiscriminate use of mines and non-compliance with proper mine-laying procedures. The question of the military usefulness of anti-personnel mines should be systematically included in dissemination sessions for arms bearers.

 The Federation will :

- assist National Societies in mine-affected countries to integrate a mine-sensitive approach into the overall activities of the Society;

- enhance their capacity to implement mine-awareness program mes, particularly through the Societies'youth programmes and community health programmes.



One of the fundamental principles of customary and treaty-based international humanitarian law is the distinction between combatants and the civilian population. In the ICRC's field of activity, the notion of protection encompasses any activity whose purpose is to protect the victims of armed conflicts and internal disturbances. That is the framework within which the ICRC carries out its work for mine victims.

Since 1945, the rise in the number of non-international armed conflicts has led to a sharp increase in the number of mines. As a result:

- entire regions have been emptied of their population;

- people have been terrorized and their movements restricted;

- communities have been isolated and the possibilities to provide humanitarian assistance greatly reduced;

- people have been cut off from local resources such as wells;

- refugees and displaced people have been deprived of the possibility of return.

The use of landmines against civilian populations is a violation of the customary rules of international humanitarian law , for the use of mines is governed by legal norms.


The constraints are:

- the need for trustworthy information on security incidents to obtain an accurate overall picture;

- the limited access of humanitarian practitioners to the areas conce rned, for security reasons or because they have been denied access to the front line;

- the difficulty of convincing the military authorities in countries that have not ratified the Ottawa treaty, who are often of the opinion that mines can be used exclusively against military targets, that landmines are indiscriminate weapons and should not be used;

- the difficulty of identifying who (individuals or authorities) is responsible for incidents involving mines, and therefore of taking action when the civilian population is victimized.


The ICRC's protection work with regard to mines is a specific but integrated part of its protection approach to conflict victims. In the narrow sense, the " protection " aspect of a mines-related operation comprises:

- identifying groups of vulnerable persons (residents, displaced persons, etc.);

- collecting specific information, if possible from eyewitnesses, on all incidents if the context permits, or on indicative incidents;

- making representations to and talking with local, regional and national military and political officials;

- when representations and dialogue have no effect, heightening awareness of and mobilizing those on the international scene in a position to influence the parties to the conflict.


The objectives are:

- systematically to incorporate the mines issue and its consequences in the institution's overall representations with regard to protection so as to further ICRC field activities;

- to establish for each context how serious the mines problem is, its connections, if any, with other violations, for example forced displacement or planned starvation, and to draw up a protection strategy;

- to give those involved or the parties to the conflict a greater sense of responsibility and to make them aware of protection issues and the humanitarian consequences of the use of mines;

- to recommend that the necessary measures be taken.


 In countries in which the ICRC is present, it will :

- remind the authorities of the rules of customary law and of humanitarian law on the use of mines, and in countries that have ratified the Ottawa treaty it will recall the obligations arising therefrom;

- make overall representations to the parties to the conflict with regard to the mines ban and the consequences of the use of mines on the civilian population;

- collect and process reliable information - from the population, local NGO networks and others - on each mine incident affecting the civilian population;

- submit documented confidential files to the parties to the conflict on individual mine incidents affecting the civilian population;

- Write confidential summary reports for the authorities on identified phenomena (use of mines against the population, relationship with other violations, etc.).



The various components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, in accordance with their respective mandates, provide care and assistance to the victims of armed conflict during or after the hostilities. The latter is t he case with anti-personnel landmines, which continue to take a toll long after the fighting has stopped. The Ottawa treaty also calls on States to provide assistance to landmine victims inter alia through the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

In conformity with their principles, the Movement's components do not distinguish between the victims on the basis of the cause of injury. They recognize the needs of all the wounded and the special situation of those suffering from a disability because of their wounds. First aid, surgical and rehabilitative programmes are launched to respond to those needs, and landmine victims are among the many beneficiaries. There are no programmes exclusively for mine victims, but it must be acknowledged that treatment of their injuries places an enormous burden on health facilities and that their care requires inordinate human and physical resources.

To turn an injured person into a hospital patient entails evacuation from the minefield, first aid and transport. To turn the patient into a survivor requires adequate surgical facilities and expertise, and sufficient quantities of safe blood for transfusion.

Access to treatment and health services for those wounded by mines is irregular and unequal throughout the world. Medical and rehabilitative care reflect the availability, or lack thereof, of basic services, which must be reinforced in mine-infested countries, especially in those with high numbers of mine victims.

The challenge of caring for and assisting mine victims is how to transform an injured person into a fully integrated and productive member of society. For those survivors whose injuries result in the amputation of a limb, loss of eyesight or paralysis, the fitting of an artificial limb, physiotherapy and rehabilitation, vocational and technical training, and psychological support will all be necessary if that challenge is to be met.

These services are part of a functioning health and social-welfare system and are all essential for the treatment of trauma victims in general and of mine victims in particular. They often fail to function when hostilities break out, and are rarely among the first priorities of the authorities once the hostilities are over.

Mine victims are among the beneficiaries of well-funded post-conflict reconstruction and the concomitant rehabilitation of the health care system, through existing World Bank, UNDP and bilateral programmes to improve the situation overall of the sick and wounded in what is very often a " disabled society " .


The constraints are:

- health services that function poorly, if at all, in war;

- limited access to care (for reasons of distance, scarce means of transportation, instability, military threats, poverty);

- unsafe working conditions that often oblige humanitarian workers to abandon the victims;

- health care personnel who are killed or flee the area; if they remain at work, they are rarely paid and the Ministry of Public Health often cannot maintain an adequate distribution of supplies to health facilities;

- political and administrative limitations, a shortage of trained staff, and inadequate information on the location and needs of victims.


The strategy is:

To ensure equal and impartial access to health care  

Various Movement components are involved in different aspects of caring for the war wounded and mine injured: first aid, ambulance transport, surgica l care, blood transfusion, prosthetic workshops, and care for the disabled.

To support existing health and social service structures  

Health and social service structures should be properly prepared to deal with the inordinate demands on resources that caring for the mine injured can entail. But those structures must first exist and function correctly.

To support National Societies engaged in mine-related activities  

It taxes the resources of a National Society to work in a conflict environment, and the situation usually remains unchanged in the post-conflict period. Coordinated support to Operating Societies, in accordance with the provisions of the Seville Agreement and the Societies'plans of action, is necessary to meet the needs of conflict and post-conflict victims.


 The ICRC will :

- provide hospital assistance and support in surgery in conflict situations, when necessary;

- assess, in conflict situations and in conjunction with the National Society concerned, the need for blood transfusion services and support them when necessary;

- assess, in conflict situations, the need for prosthetic workshops and patient rehabilitation and provide such services, when necessary;

- in post-conflict situations, draw on the Red Cross Special Fund for the Disabled to support the work of various organizations, both within and outside the Movement, that meet the Fund's requirements;

- back National Society efforts to provide psychological support to mine victims, to help them achieve social reintegrat ion and to take other small-scale assistance initiatives.

 The National Societies in mine-affected countries will :

- strengthen their services to provide first aid to, evacuate and transport the war wounded;

- provide services to beneficiaries of prosthetics and rehabilitation services, such as transport and accommodation for treatment and rehabilitation sessions, or any other small-scale assistance required;

- assess needs for psychological support services and social reintegration of mine victims and incorporate such activities into their overall social programme.

 The International Federation will :

- help the National Societies concerned incorporate mine-related programmes intotheir overall development plans;

- support their capacity-building efforts;

- help them develop human resources.



Mine clearance represents one of the key tools in the world-wide efforts to rid the earth of mines, yet the number of priority areas demined each year continues to be low, mainly for lack of sufficient political determination and funding. The information coming from agencies involved in mine-clearance operations tends to underline the unsatisfactory reality that, in spite of the Ottawa treaty, there has so far been no increase in the amount of funds set aside for demining. Much of the money allocated by governments to demining activities is given to national research programmes which will produce results only in a few years'time.


In June 1997, the Movement produced the Guidelines on Red Cross/Red Crescent involvement in mine-clearance activities . At the Council of Delegates in November 1997, Resolution 8 was adopted, encouraging "all components of the Movement, when considering support for mine-clearance activities, to follow the guidelines for the Movement on this subject".  


The Guidelines clearly recommend that the Red Cross/Red Crescent should not become involved in mine-clearance work or finance such activities.

However, the Red Cross/Red Crescent may cooperate in the medical sphere with mine-clearance organizations and in mine-awareness programmes. National Societies can encourage their governments to contribute to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Mine Clearance or to agencies which conduct demining operations according to humanitarian criteria.


Initially, the Movement's approach to the landmines issue was highly focused: it sought to achieve a specific goal (the banning of landmines) within a certain time. Now that approach will become broader. While there will still be a specific focus on persuading States to ratify the Ottawa treaty, mine-related activities will start to be incorporated in other, ongoing programmes such as emergency preparedness, community health and protection.

In a handful of seriously-affected countries, landmine victims may be sufficiently numerous as compared with other b eneficiaries and the problem of landmines may be sufficiently pervasive in terms of other threats such as drought, flooding, galloping inflation and communicable diseases for the National Societies to legitimately focus programming on landmine victims.

National Societies are involved in three main ways:

- lobbying governments to sign and/or ratify the treaties;

- promoting mine awareness in order to reduce the risk of civilian casualties;

- providing care and services to landmine victims as part of their services to traumatically injured and disabled people in their communities.

Where landmine victims and potential victims are being targeted as part of a much larger group (e.g. disabled people), then it is clear that a National Society's landmine strategy must be part of its larger development strategy. The Federation plays a key role in helping National Societies put landmines issues on their long-term agendas, at the appropriate level.


The Geneva Conventions and the Movement's Statutes confer specific areas of competence to each component, which therefore plays a lead role in those areas. The concept of Lead Role, according to the provisions of the Seville Agreement, implies the existence of other partners in the Movement with rights and responsibilities in these matters. This is clearly the case of work relating to victims of landmines.

The institution entrusted with the lead role in mine-related activities will actively encourage and promote the involvement of its partners in the Movement in such activities.

Because of the nature of its specific mandate, the ICRC has extensive expertise in most areas related to mine action. It is therefore in a position to be the " reference institution " within the Movement for activities related to mine action and to assist other components engaged in this type of activity.

Given its role in supporting National Society development, the Federation has built up specific expertise in community-based rehabilitation programmes and will therefore be in a position to assist National Societies in these areas.

As a matter of policy, expertise and technical support should be made available to National Societies choosing to pursue activities related to the landmines issue in affected countries on the priority list. This should be done at their request.

Since the response to the landmines crisis focuses on long-term programmes on the ground in mine-affected areas, the ICRC and Participating National Societies should consider the Operating National Societies as privileged partners in the programmes they conduct or plan.

Nonetheless, effective action in any given national or local context will require integrated and concerted efforts with national and local NGOs and with international organizations and agencies. The Movement's components are encouraged to cooperate, to the maximum extent possible in a given context, with other organizations working in the field of mine action. Such interaction is an essential element of success on the ground.


In assuming the lead role within the Movement for all mine-related issues, the ICRC will also be responsible for the mobilization of financial resources and for the launching of appeals, when necessary integrating mines-related programmes carried out by National Societies. This may also include coverage of costs incurred by the International Federation for technical consultancy.

As a result, the ICRC will thus not only seek funding for cost coverage of its own programmes but will also include mine-related activities, carried out by other components of the Movement outside the scope of ICRC's objectives and budgets. The allocation of funds for such programmes will be carried out in close consultation with the International Federation.