Trust Funds

Investments and Social Responsibility: Landmines

UW System Trust Funds
Investments and Social Responsibility:
Landmines
December 2004

Background

Antipersonnel mines were initially developed to protect antitank mines and stop them from being removed by enemy soldiers. They were used defensively, to protect strategic areas such as borders, camps or important bridges and to restrict the movement of another force. A key characteristic of the weapon is that it is allegedly designed to maim rather than kill an enemy soldier. The logic goes that more resources are taken up caring for an injured soldier on the battlefield than dealing with a dead soldier.1

Antipersonnel mines were first used on a wide scale in World War II. Since then they have been used in many conflicts, including the Vietnam War, the Korean War, and the first Gulf War. Precursors of the weapon are said to have first been used in the American Civil War in the 1800s. Eventually, antipersonnel landmines began to be deployed on a wider scale, often in internal conflicts and started being aimed at civilians. They were used to terrorize communities, deny access to farming land and restrict population movement. The practice of marking and mapping minefields was no longer followed strictly. As a result, civilians, peacekeepers, aid workers and soldiers alike had no way of knowing if they entered a minefield. Rain and other weather often shifted minefields. So without clear records, and with the impacts of weather and time, clearing up the mess after a conflict became even harder.2

Technological developments saw the production of systems for delivering mines from the air. These were then used in much larger numbers and mapping and marking became almost impossible. Also, so-called “smart” mines were developed. These self-destructing and self–deactivating mines are meant to destroy or deactivate themselves after a designated period of time. However, like "dumb" or long-lived mines, this so-called "smart" variety is still an indiscriminate and inhumane weapon when armed. Also, some may fail to self-destruct or self-deactivate and so may remain live indefinitely. They tend to be dropped by air, often in larger numbers than ground delivered mines, and are not fenced, marked or monitored, thus posing the same long-term risk to life and limb as long-lived mines.3

1997 Mine Ban Treaty

“An unprecedented alliance of governments, international organizations such as the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and civil society groups that make up the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) made history in 1997, when they secured the 1997 treaty prohibiting antipersonnel mines. The Mine Ban Treaty obligates its participants to completely and permanently discontinue the use, production, stockpile, and transfer of antipersonnel landmines; to destroy stockpiles within four years; to clear mines within their own territories within ten years; and to provide continuing assistance to mine survivors.”2

The Mine Ban Treaty, which went into effect on March 1, 1999, has been signed by approximately three quarters of the world's nations (142 nations); it came into force faster than any other multi-lateral global agreement. Participants include the entire western hemisphere except the United States and Cuba, and all NATO countries except the United States and two new member states. Most African nations and many Asian nations have joined the Mine Ban Treaty as well. Other countries not participating in the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty include Russia, China, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Burma, and Syria.1

Unfortunately, 15 countries continue to produce (or have not foresworn the production of) antipersonnel mines, according to the ICBL’s Landmine Monitor Report of 2003. Nine of the 15 mine producers are in Asia (Burma, China, India, Nepal, North Korea, South Korea, Pakistan, Singapore, and Vietnam), three in the Middle East (Egypt, Iran, and Iraq), two in the Americas (Cuba and United States), and one in Europe (Russia).1

The adoption of the landmine convention marked the first time that countries have agreed to prohibit completely a weapon that was already in widespread use. The convention is also unique in that it provides a comprehensive program of action for ending the epidemic of landmine injuries through a combination of international humanitarian law and arms-control provisions. In only five years, the convention's prescription for ending the epidemic of landmine injuries has proved its effectiveness. In several countries where its provisions are being implemented, the International Committee of the Red Cross, has witnessed a reduction in the number of new mine victims by two-thirds or more.1

Given below are some other interesting and disturbing facts about landmines.

  •  “The United States has 11 million anti personnel landmines (APLs) stockpiled, the third largest mine arsenal in the world.” 2
  • “The United States is one of only 14 countries that refuse to halt production of APLs.” 2
  • “Landmines cost as little as $3 to produce and as much as $1,000 per mine to clear.” 2
  • “From 1969 to 1992, the United States exported 4.4 million antipersonnel mines, mostly to Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Somalia, and Vietnam.” 4
  • “U.S.-made or supplied APLs have been found in 32 countries, including Afghanistan.” 2
  • “Antipersonnel landmines are still being planted today and minefields dating back decades continue to lie in wait of innocent victims.” 1
  • “UNICEF estimates that 30 to 40 percent of mine victims are children under 15 years old.” 1
  • “Vast stockpiles of landmines remain in warehouses around the world and a handful of countries still produce the weapon.” 1
  • “The International Campaign to Ban Landmines estimates that 15,000 to 20,000 people are maimed or killed by landmines each year and that millions more suffer from the agricultural, economic, and psychological impact of the weapon.” 2
  • “The International Campaign to Ban Landmines estimates that there are more than 80 million landmines in the ground in more than 80 countries.” 2

U.S. Policy

Anti-landmine activists believe that the U.S. military and U.S. companies have not produced new antipersonnel mines in many years and do not have plans to do so anytime soon. A U.S. law in place since 1992 prohibits exports or transfers of antipersonnel mines to any country. The Clinton administration announced in January 1997 that as a matter of policy the U.S. would observe a permanent ban on the export and transfer of antipersonnel mines. 1

Despite the decision to ban the export and transport of landmines to other countries, the United States has to date not joined the Mine Ban Treaty even though it is being a leader in demining and victim assistance efforts. Former President Bill Clinton indicated that the United States would join the Mine Ban Treaty in 2006 as long as U.S. efforts to find “alternatives” to antipersonnel landmines are successful. 1

“However, the Bush Administration conducted a formal review of U.S. landmine policy starting in the summer of 2001. The new policy, which was announced at the State Department in late February of 2004, represents a major rollback of U.S. progress on the issue.” 1

In summary:

  • The U.S. has now abandoned its plans to join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty by 2006 (as was the Clinton plan), or ever.
  • The use of U.S. self-destructing mines is now permitted indefinitely anywhere in the world.
  • The use of long-lived (or “dumb” or “persistent”) antipersonnel mines is now permissible until 2010.

There are a few positive and important aspects to the new policy:

  • U.S. mine action funding will increase.
  • All non-self-deactivating (“dumb”) mines, both antipersonnel and anti-vehicle, will be phased out, but not until 2010.

Anti-landmine activists believe this new U.S. policy is completely out of step with the global movement that has been working for over a decade to eradicate the weapon. The new policy undermines the movement's efforts to universalize the life-saving 1997 Mine Ban Treaty by providing justification for other holdout states such as Russia, India, and Pakistan.1

It appears that since the U.S. continues to ban the export/transfer of landmines to other countries and provides significant aide to mine survivors, the reason why it does not want to join the Mine Treaty is that it wishes to reserve the right to produce, stockpile, and use landmines for its own military purposes. This suggests that while the current administration and policies acknowledge the unique unintentional harm posed by these weapons in the hands of other governments and their militaries, the U.S. can continue to use them “responsibly.”

Potential Manufacturers

In the U.S., no company produces mines from beginning to end. The U.S. mine industry consists of component suppliers, with final assembly often done in government-owned, contractor-operated Army Ammunition plants.1

Thirty companies rejected the activist Human Rights Watch group’s humanitarian recent and on-going appeal to forego any future production of antipersonnel mine components, 17 companies directly, in writing, and 13 through silence. The 13 companies that did not respond in writing were Action Manufacturing Co. (Pennsylvania), Aerospace Design, Inc. (California), Amron Corp. (Wisconsin), BI Technologies (California), Consolidated Industries, Inc. (Alabama), Day & Zimmerman, Inc. (Pennsylvania), EMCO, Inc. (Alabama), Formworks Plastics, Inc. (California), Fort Belknap Industries (Montana), Intellitec (Florida), Mason & Hangar/Silas Mason Co., Inc. (Kentucky), Primetec, Inc. (Florida), and Unitrode Corp. (New Hampshire). When contacted, a number of companies objected to their inclusion in this list of component producers on a variety of grounds. Most commonly heard were the following:

  • Some companies simply denied being "mine producers."
  • Some companies acknowledge, after seeing evidence, that their products had been used in antipersonnel mines, but claimed that they had no prior knowledge of involvement in mine production. Some also stated that because their components could be used for many purposes—military and non-military—they had no control over or knowledge of the end use.

Of the 17 companies that responded in writing to the Human Rights Watch appeal, Alliant Techsystems is the company that appears to have profited the most from landmine production contracts. Alliant was awarded Department of Defense antipersonnel and antitank landmine production contracts worth $336 million from 1985 through 1995; its Wisconsin subsidiary Accudyne Corp. was awarded similar contracts worth $150 million from 1985 through 1995; and its New Jersey subsidiary Ferrulmatic was awarded a $72,000 contract in 1985 for the M128 Volcano landmine dispenser.

In response to activist questions, Alliant CEO Richard Schwartz wrote: "The International Campaign to Ban Landmines has served an invaluable role in shedding light on a terrible problem that must be addressed," but insisted that his company's landmines were not to blame. "It is irresponsible to imply in any way that companies such as Alliant Techsystems have contributed to the world's landmine problems. To do so wrongly maligns responsible U.S. citizens, and diverts resources that could be applied toward stigmatizing the governments that violate international law."

Virtually identical wording came from Colorado's CAPCO, which repeated Alliant's argument that antipersonnel mine production was in the national interest. CAPCO insisted: "Our company will continue to support the U.S. need for mines of these types (i.e., self-destructing mines) as deemed necessary by our Government."

Raytheon is best known for its air traffic control, fire control, communications, space and navigation systems. Raytheon has stated: "We understand well the importance of the cause you are forwarding....However, it is generally our practice not to broadly and formally renounce participation in businesses, despite the fact that this is not a business in which we participate and, when we did, it was as a minor supplier of transistors - a business we have since sold." Thus, Raytheon acknowledged past involvement and declined when offered the opportunity to renounce future involvement.1

Proxy Review

There have been no proxy votes relating to landmines since 2001, when General Electric included a second year proposal from a group of shareholders asking the company to renounce future involvement in antipersonnel landmine and cluster bomb production. 

UW Trust Funds Holdings

The UW Trust Funds currently has no holdings in the 30 companies cited by the Human Rights Watch in their recent appeal.

Sources:

  1. Human Rights Watch: http://hrw.org
  2. United States Campaign to Ban Landmines:  www.banminesusa.org/
  3. Adopt-A-Minefield: http://www.landmines.org
  4. Annual Landmine Monitor report: www.icbl.org/l