Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 19 October 2015


The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 11 September 2002, becoming a State Party on 1 March 2003.

Afghanistan has not adopted national implementation legislation.[1] A draft regulation prohibiting the use, stockpiling, production, and transfer of mines and cluster munitions was prepared in 2013 and was still in progress as of September 2015.[2]

Afghanistan submitted its twelfth Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report in April 2015, a report covering calendar year 2014.[3]

Over the past decade, Afghanistan has participated in every Meeting of States Parties and all intersessional meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty. It attended the Mine Ban Treaty’s First Review Conference in Nairobi in 2004 and its Second Review Conference in Cartagena in 2009, however its delegation to the Third Review Conference in Maputo in June 2014 was denied a transit visa en-route. Afghanistan’s statements intended for the Maputo conference were uploaded to the treaty’s website.


There have been no reports of antipersonnel mine use by Coalition or Afghan national forces. However, use of victim-activated improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by armed groups continued in 2014 and 2015, resulting in further casualties.

Non-state armed groups

Historically, the Taliban has made extensive use of victim-activated IEDs in Afghanistan, as have other armed groups that oppose the Kabul government and the former NATO/International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) forces, such as the Haqqani Network and Hezb-e-Islami.

In September 2015, Afghan officials were quoted as stating that the Taliban had emplaced landmines and booby traps around Kunduz after seizing the city.[4] UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) documented new use of victim activated IEDs in Kunduz in April, May, and June 2015, resulting in new civilian casualties.[5] In February 2015, local authorities in Ghalbian village in Gurziwan district, Faryab province reported that the Taliban laid mines around a police post it seized that month, which resulted in casualties from the village.[6]

In the first half of 2015, UNAMA recorded an increase in incidents caused by victim-activated IEDs compared to the same time period in 2014.[7] UNAMA states that victim-activated IEDs are the most common form of IED in Afghanistan.[8] Victim activated (pressure plate) IEDs were responsible for almost half of the casualties from explosive weapons recorded during the first half of 2015.[9] UNAMA states that anti-government organizations were using victim activated IEDs in increasing numbers during early 2015.[10]

UNAMA shares the view of Mine Ban Treaty States Parties that victim-activated IEDs function as antipersonnel mines and are prohibited by the Mine Ban Treaty, while command-detonated IEDs are not banned.[11]

In 2014, UNAMA reported that the majority of pressure plate IEDs are still set to detonate when walked on or driven over and frequently contain up to 20–25kg of explosives, more than twice that of a standard antivehicle mine.[12] As a result of this design and configuration, the explosive weapons “effectively act as a massive antipersonnel landmine with the capability of destroying a tank;” “civilians who step on or drive over these IEDs…have no defense against them and very little chance of survival…A significant number of IEDs were encountered with explosive weight of approximately 2–4kg specifically designed to maim or kill individuals on foot.”[13] Previously, some pressure plate initiated IEDs were reported to use carbon rods instead of metal contacts to make the explosive device difficult to detect. In other cases, insurgents use an arming device that allows them to switch on the pressure plate when targets are in the area.[14]

The Taliban have not made any statement regarding use of victim-activated IEDs since October 2012, when on the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan website the Taliban denied the use of victim-activated explosive devices and said it uses command-detonated explosive devices.[15] The Taliban have claimed responsibility for an extensive number of attacks against military personnel and vehicles using command-detonated IEDs.[16]

Production, transfer, stockpile destruction, and discoveries

Afghanistan is not known to have ever produced or exported antipersonnel mines. Throughout many years of armed conflict, large numbers of mines from numerous sources were sent to various fighting forces in Afghanistan. In recent years, there were no confirmed reports of outside supply of antipersonnel mines to non-state armed groups.

Afghanistan reported that it completed its stockpile destruction obligation in October 2007, eight months after its treaty-mandated deadline of 1 March 2007.[17] It reported the destruction of 525,504 stockpiled antipersonnel mines between 2003 and 2007.[18] It is unclear how many stockpiled mines Afghanistan had destroyed at the time it declared completion of the program. It reported that it had destroyed 486,226 stockpiled antipersonnel mines as of April 2007, and later reported that it destroyed 81,595 antipersonnel mines in calendar year 2007.[19]

Afghan security forces regularly recover weapons, sometimes landmines, in their operations.[20] In 2014, it reported that a total of 1,318 antipersonnel mines were discovered and destroyed during calendar year 2014 from stocks recovered during military operations, surrendered during disarmament programs, and discovered by civilians.[21] Since Afghanistan’s stockpile destruction deadline, it has discovered and destroyed 82,992 antipersonnel mines in previously unknown stockpiles.[22]

Mines retained for training and development

Afghanistan does not retain any live mines for training in mine detection, mine clearance, or mine destruction techniques. It has reported that “mine bodies used in these programmes have had their fuzes removed and destroyed and are no longer capable of being used.”[23] In June 2011, the chief of operations of the Mine Action Coordination Centre of Afghanistan (MACCA) confirmed to the Monitor that Afghanistan does not retain any live mines for training or other purposes.[24] All mines retained by Afghanistan are fuzeless and are used to train mine detection dogs.[25]

[1] In May 2009, Afghanistan repeated from previous Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 reports that “its constitution adopted in January 2005 requires the country to respect all international treaties it has signed. The Ministry of Defense has instructed all military forces to respect the comprehensive ban on antipersonnel mines and the prohibition on use in any situation by militaries or individuals.” Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2008), Form A.

[2] The Ministry of Justice has advised that the regulation must amend existing law rather than create a new law. Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form A, April 2015.

[3] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, April 2015. Previous Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 reports were submitted annually, except in 2011.

[4]Afghan forces struggle to retake Kunduz city from Taliban,” The Express Tribune (AFP), 30 September 2015.

[6]5 Afghan women die in search of ‘missing’ husbands,” World Bulletin, 28 February 2015.

[7] In the first half of 2015, UNAMA documented 506 victim-activated IED casualties, an increase from the same period in 2014. UNAMA, “Afghanistan Mid-year Report 2015 Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict,” Kabul, August 2015, pp. 20–21.

[9] Ibid., p. 8.

[10] Ibid., p. 11.

[11] Ibid., pp. 20–21, 45.

[12] Ibid., p. 47.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Small Arms Survey, “Small Arms Survey 2013, Chapter 10: Infernal Machines,” pp. 228–229.

[15] “We clearly want to state that our Mujahideen never place live landmines in any part of the country but each mine is controlled by a remote and detonated on military targets only.” “Reaction of Islamic Emirate regarding accusations of UNAMA about explosive devices,” 22 October 2012.

[17] In April 2007, Afghanistan informed States Parties that while it had destroyed 486,226 stockpiled antipersonnel mines, two depots of antipersonnel mines still remained in Panjsheer province, about 150 kilometers north of Kabul. Provincial authorities did not make the mines available for destruction in a timely fashion. For details on the destruction program and reasons for not meeting the deadline, see Landmine Monitor Report 2007, pp. 89–90; and Landmine Monitor Report 2008, pp. 79–80.

[18] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2013), Form G. How many stockpiled mines Afghanistan had destroyed at the time it declared completion of the program lacked clarity. See Landmine Monitor Report 2009, pp. 99–100.

[19]Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2007), Form G, 13 May 2008.

[20] Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ministry of Interior Affairs, “In Clearance Operations, 26 Armed Taliban Killed,” 1 October 2013.

[21] Afghanistan’s Article 7 report, Form B states that 1,318 antipersonnel mines were discovered during the year 2014.

[22] The type and number of mines destroyed in each location, and the dates of destruction, have been recorded in detail. Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2014), Form G.

[23] See for example, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2011, 2012, or 2013), Form D.

[24] Email from MACCA, 4 June 2011.

[25] Interview with MACCA, in Geneva, 24 June 2010. The former UN Mine Action Center for Afghanistan Program Director also told the Monitor in June 2008 that all retained mines are fuzeless and that the fuzes were destroyed prior to use in training activities.