Saudi Arabia

Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 18 December 2019


The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Saudi Arabia has made no recent statements regarding its intentions toward the Mine Ban Treaty. Previously, in July 2008, Saudi Arabia told the Monitor that it “is still in the process of studying” the treaty.[1] In 2004, Saudi Arabia stated that it supports the humanitarian objectives of the treaty.[2]

Officials have previously stated that Saudi Arabia does not want to forego its option to use antipersonnel mines in the future.[3] In October 2010, the government stated, “the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia seeks the elimination and destruction of anti-personnel mines. The Kingdom has contributed over 4.5 million U.S. dollars to this cause.”[4] In December 2010, a Saudi official told the Monitor that “his country policy on landmine[s] has not changed.”[5]

Saudi Arabia abstained from voting on UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 73/61 calling for universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty on 5 December 2018, as it has for every annual pro-ban UNGA resolution since 1996.[6]

Saudi Arabia has participated as an observer in most recent meetings of the treaty, including the Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in November 2018. It attended as an observer at the treaty’s Third Review Conference in Maputo, Mozambique, but did not make any statements.

Saudi Arabia is party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons, but has yet to join its Amended Protocol II on landmines. Saudi Arabia is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

In 2016 and 2017, reports of mine use and seizures surfaced in southern Saudi Arabia on its borders with Yemen, in Aseer and Jazan provinces. Saudi Arabia has attributed the use of mines on its borders to Yemeni Houthi rebels as well as smugglers.[7] In the majority of news reports, there is no attribution for the mine use, however in December 2013, representatives of Saudi Arabia stated to the ICBL that they were not using mines on their border with Yemen.[8] In some cases, significant quantities of landmines have been seized.[9]

In 2008, Saudi Arabia stated to the Monitor, “the Kingdom has not produced nor exported any type of mines…The Kingdom possesses a stockpile of old anti-personnel mines however; these mines have never been used. There are no stockpiles of American-owned anti-personnel mines inside the Kingdom.” It went on to note that it has “a number of legislations and procedures…that regulate importing, producing and storing anti-personnel mines.”[10] Previously, in February 2002 Saudi official confirmed for the first time that the country maintained a stockpile of antipersonnel mines, but no details were provided.[11]

Landmine Monitor has previously reported that Saudi Arabia is not known to have produced, exported, or used antipersonnel mines, but that it stockpiles a small number imported in the past.[12]

[1] Letter from Saud M. Alsati, Counselor-Political, Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington, DC, 9 July 2008. Previously, in 2004, Saudi officials have said that they did not wish to forego its option to use antipersonnel mines in the future. See, ICBL, Landmine Monitor 2005.

[2] See, for example, statement by Brig.-Gen. Ibrahim Bin Mohammed al Arifi, Ministry of Defense, First Review Conference, Nairobi, 3 December 2004.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Statement by Amb. Khalid A. Al-Nafisee, Permanent Mission of Saudi Arabia to the UN, 65th Session, UNGA First Committee, New York, 6 October 2010. The statement went on to say that Saudi Arabia had “signed the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines commonly referred to as the Ottawa Convention or the Mine Ban Treaty.” However, Saudi Arabia is not party to the treaty.

[5] Interview with Soliman Al Hammad, Head of Saudi Delegation, Ministry of Defense, Tenth Meeting of States Parties, Mine Ban Treaty, Geneva, 2 December 2010.

[6] “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction,” UNGA Resolution 73/61, 5 December 2018.

[7] See, “Saudi soldier killed by landmine near Yemen border,” Middle East Online, 9 December 2016; and Mohammed Al-Sulami, “Saudi Border Guards stops efforts to plant land mines, smuggle weapons in southern Kingdom,” Arab News, 20 March 2017.

[8] ICBL meeting with representative of Saudi Arabia to Mine Ban Treaty Thirteenth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 5 December 2013. Notes by ICBL.

[10] Letter from Saud M. Alsati, Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington, DC, 9 July 2008.

[11] Interview with Brig. Gen. Hamad Alrumaih and Capt. Masfer A. S. Alhusain, Geneva, 1 February 2002.

[12] See, Landmine Monitor Report 2004, pp. 1,107–1,108.