Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 12 November 2020


The State of Libya has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty.

In October 2017, a representative said that Libya “supports the concerns of the international community about the humanitarian impact of anti-personnel mines and their destruction and the fact that they hinder sustainable development. We need only look at the effects of anti-personnel mines since the Second World War. We are also well aware of the damage caused by occupation. However, the Convention does not make reference to the responsibility that occupying States bear for repairing the damage they have caused and assisting the countries they have colonized.”[1]

In October 2011, two Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials informed the ICBL that there was support for joining the Mine Ban Treaty, but that the matter must wait until the new government was established and for the legislative body to consider accession.[2] Libya’s signature of the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty, on 9 July 2013, indicated that the government is ready to join international treaties.

On 12 December 2019, Libya voted in favor of annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 74/61, which supports the universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty. Libya has voted in favour of the annual resolution consistently since 2012.[3]

Prior to being deposed in 2011, the government of Muammar Gaddafi showed interest in the Mine Ban Treaty but made no effort to join it; Libyan officials often criticized the treaty and called for it to be revised.[4] On 28 April 2011, the National Transitional Council (NTC), then the opposition authority in Libya, issued a statement formally pledging that “no forces under the command and control of the [NTC] will use antipersonnel or anti-vehicle landmines.” The statement also said that “any future Libyan government should relinquish landmines and join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.”[5] The current UN-recognized Government of National Accord voiced similar concerns in its 2016 Explanation of Vote on the annual UNGA resolution.[6]

Despite not joining the Mine Ban Treaty, Libya has participated as an observer in many of the treaty’s meetings of States Parties as well as the first and third review conferences.[7] Libya last attended the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in November–December 2015 as an observer, but did not make any statements.

Libya is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It is also not a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

As the government of Muammar Gaddafi progressively lost control of the country in 2011, massive weapons depots containing landmines and other munitions were abandoned by government forces and left unsecured.[8] Local and international mine action organizations have worked with Libyan authorities and the UN since mid-2011 to collect and destroy abandoned ordnance, but it is unclear how many landmines were removed by anti-government rebels, civilians, and others.

Prior to 2011, Libya consistently stated that it had never produced or exported antipersonnel mines and that it no longer stockpiled the weapon.[9] Yet abundant evidence subsequently emerged showing that Libya had accumulated a stockpile of hundreds of thousands of antipersonnel and antivehicle mines under Gaddafi’s leadership, and that his forces used tens of thousands of these mines during the 2011 conflict.

In December 2016, Chinese-made Type 84 rocket-delivered antivehicle mines appeared in Benghazi in the possession of the Libyan National Army (LNA). Markings indicated they were manufactured in 2009. Use of this mine was first documented in 2011 in Misrata. Although this mine is designed as an antivehicle mine, it is equipped with a sensitive magnetic influence fuze that can function as an anti-disturbance fuze.[10]

The post-Gaddafi government in Libya began to destroy landmine stocks in early 2012, but no information is available on the numbers or types of landmines destroyed and it is still not clear if systematic stockpile destruction efforts are being undertaken as of October 2019.[11]


In May 2020, the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) discovered significant mine contamination in areas of Tripoli vacated by rebels that month. The departing rebels were from a Russian government-linked military company, the Wagner group, which was fighting on behalf of Field Marshall Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Tobruk-based LNA. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported, “GNA-aligned forces shared photographs on Twitter on May 29 showing four types of antipersonnel landmines manufactured in the Soviet Union or Russia and claiming they were “laid by the Wagner mercenaries” in the Ain Zara, Al-Khilla, Salahuddin, Sidra, and Wadi al-Rabi districts of Tripoli. Other photographs shared on social media show mines equipped with tripwires and mines used as triggers to detonate larger improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Video footage shows various explosive charges used to booby-trap homes, including antivehicle mines, paired with various types of fuzes and a mix of electronic timers, circuit boards, and modified cell phones.”[12]

The new mine use was condemned by the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL),[13] the President of the Eighteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, H.E. Osman Abufatima Adam Mohammed,[14] and the ICBL.[15] The mines, both standard and improvised, caused casualties among civilians returning to the area. Between late May and early July 2020, UNSMIL reported 138 casualties, including clearance workers, due to the newly laid explosive devices[16] (see Casualties section). Previous sporadic reports of landmine use by militias active in Libya had emerged from time to time since the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime in 2011.[17] In May 2018, it was alleged that the Shura Council of the Mujahideen in Darna laid landmines while fighting forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar.[18] Civilians seeking food and fuel were also reported to have been killed by landmines during the conflict.[19]

A spokesman for the eastern LNA said 68 soldiers were killed and 45 injured by landmines in 2017.[20] Reports of civilian deaths and injuries continue to be reported in the local media.[21]

Previous use

HRW confirmed the use of five types of mines in six separate locations by pro-Gaddafi forces during the 2011 conflict, first in the east of the country, then in the Nafusa mountain range in the northwest, and finally around Tripoli and coastal towns in the west. This included the use of low-metal content antipersonnel mines that are particularly challenging for detection and clearance efforts, such as the Brazilian T-AB-1 mine.[22] Three types of mines were also found abandoned at three other locations.

Mine types identified in Libya during the 2011 conflict



Country of production

Location used/user




Used by government forces in Ajdabiya, Khusha, Misrata, and al-Qawalish (three separate locations)




Used by government forces in Ajdabiya and al-Qawalis; abandoned stockpiles in Tripoli




Used by government forces in Misrata




Abandoned stockpiles in Benghazi



Former Czechoslovakia

Abandoned stockpiles in Benghazi

PRB-M3 and




Used by rebels in Ajdabiya; abandoned in storage in Benghazi




Abandoned stockpiles in Ajdabiya and Tripoli




Abandoned stockpiles in Tripoli


Prior to 2011, Libya last used antipersonnel mines during its 1980–1987 war with Chad. Libya is contaminated by mines and unexploded ordnance from World War II, as well as from wars with Egypt (1977) and Chad (1980–1987). Minefields are said to exist in desert, port, and urban areas; however, no nationwide survey has ever been conducted. Previously, some facilities were protected by minefields, such as an ammunition storage area outside of Ajdabiya that HRW confirmed was partially surrounded by a minefield, marked only by a deteriorating fence.[23]

[1] Libya, Explanation of Vote on Resolution L.40, 72nd Session, UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee, New York, 31 October 2017, UNGA, Official Records, A/C.1/72/PV.26, p. 7/29.

[2] ICBL meeting with El-Mahdi El-Maghreby, Director, International Organizations, and Salaheddin El Mesalati, Counsellor, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Libya, in New York, 18 October 2011.

[3] Libya had previously abstained from the annual resolution between 1998 and 2011. The change came after outreach by the ICBL, including Human Rights Watch (HRW). See, for example, HRW, “Letter to Ambassador Ibrahim O. Dabbashi of Libya,” 8 October 2014.

[4] For example, in September 2010 Libya stated: “anti-personnel mines are a weapon that the vulnerable States use to defend their territories against invading forces. The powerful States do not even need to use them since they possess arsenals of advanced Weapons. In this framework, the [Mine Ban Treaty] should be amended, taking into account the interests of the small States. The legislators of this convention should have made the States concerned committed to compensate those affected by mines planted in their lands and to provide legal and political assurances for the protection of small States due to the lack of possession of neither defensive nor offensive weapons.” Statement by Musa Abdussalam Kousa, Secretary of the General People’s Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, UNGA General Debate, New York, 28 September 2010.

[5] HRW Press Release, “Libya: Rebels Pledge Not to Use Landmines,” 29 April 2011.

[6] Libya, Explanation of Vote on Resolution L.7/Rev.1, 71st Session, UNGA First Committee, New York, 31 October 2016, UNGA, Official Records, A/C.1/71/PV.24, pp. 27–28/35.

[7] Libya was absent from the meetings of States Parties held in 2001, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, and the Second Review Conference held in 2009.

[8] This included the 60-bunker Hight Razma facility near Benghazi, a 35-bunker facility near Ajdabiya, and a smaller facility near Tobruk. In September 2011, HRW visited a Khamis Brigade base in the Salahadin neighborhood of Tripoli that included a farm compound holding approximately 15,000 antipersonnel mines and a nearby storage facility housing more than 100,000 antipersonnel and antivehicle mines. HRW, “Landmines in Libya: Technical Briefing Note,” 19 July 2011; and HRW, “Libya: Secure Unguarded Arms Depots,” 9 September 2011.

[9] Interview with Col. Ali Alahrash, Ministry of Defense, in Geneva, 16 March 2004.

[10] Arnaud Delalande, “Terrific—Libyan Militants Now Have Deadly Chinese Landmines,” War is Boring, 16 January 2017. In April 2014, reports had emerged showing the use in Syria of the Chinese-made Type 84 scatterable antivehicle mine that was first reported used in 2011 in Libya, but it was not possible to ascertain if the mines used in Syria were from the same stocks used in Libya. Mark Hiznay, “Remotely Delivered Antivehicle Mines Spotted in Syria,” Monitor Blog, 25 April 2014. In Libya, the Type-84 “parachute mines” were delivered by surface-fired 122mm Grad-type rockets into the port area of the city of Misrata by Gaddafi forces on 5 May 2011. The markings on the mines indicated a 2009 manufacture date. These mines are equipped with a sensitive magnetic-influence fuze, which also functions as an inherent anti-disturbance feature, as well as a self-destruct mechanism that can be set for a period of four hours to three days. These characteristics pose special problems as the mines sit on the ground and complicate clearance efforts. The magnetic-influence fuze explodes the mine when it detects a change in its immediate magnetic environment, such as a vehicle passing over it or a person approaching the mine who is wearing or carrying a sufficient amount of ferrous metal, like military equipment or a camera. Additionally, given the sensitivity of the fuze, any change in orientation or movement of the mine may cause the fuze to function.

[11] HRW, “Libya: Secure Unguarded Arms Depots,” 9 September 2011. In March 2012, HRW witnessed the destruction of Type-72SP antivehicle landmines.

[17] For details, see: Landmine Monitor, “Country Profile: Libya: Ban Policy,” 9 October 2018.

[20]Libya: Over 160 Libyan Soldiers Killed in Benghazi in 2017,” Forum on China-Africa Cooperation via AllAfrica, 4 January 2018.

[21]Landmines kill 8 civilians in Oct. in Libya's Benghazi,” Xinhua, 4 November 2017; Ayman al-Warfalli, “Mines still claim legs and lives in Libya's Benghazi months after war ceased,” Reuters, 21 January 2018; Safa Alharathy, “Boy wounded in landmine explosion in Benghazi,” Libya Observer, 29 April 2018; and Safa Alharathy, “Two killed in landmine explosions in Benghazi during May,” Libya Observer, 3 June 2018.

[22] Brazil has declared in its Article 7 reports that production and exports of T-AB-1 antipersonnel mines ceased in 1989, even before Brazil joined the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997. There is no export record of the shipments because arms export records are not held for longer than 10 years. An internal investigation was opened into the origins and transfer of the T-AB-1 mines to Libya. HRW meeting with Brazilian delegation to Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 27 June 2011.