Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 15 November 2021


Afghanistan acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 11 September 2002, becoming a State Party on 1 March 2003. The country has been renamed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan since the Taliban seized power in August 2021.

The Taliban has pledged not to use landmines on several occasions. In October 1998, its then-supreme leader, Mullah Muhammed Omer, proclaimed a comprehensive ban on antipersonnel mines. He described use of landmines as an “un-Islamic and anti-human act,” which the Taliban “strongly condemns.” The statement explicitly endorsed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and declared a national “ban on the production, trade, stockpiling and use of landmines.”[1]

Over the past 20 years, the Monitor and others have reported on the use of mostly improvised antipersonnel mines by the Taliban and non-state armed groups (NSAGs) in Afghanistan. The ICBL has called on the Taliban to adhere to its pledge not to use landmines and has reiterated that call to the new government of Afghanistan.[2]

A national law enacted in September 2018 prohibits the “production, importation, transportation, export, preservation, using, and destruction of anti-personnel mines.”[3]

Afghanistan has submitted its annual Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report covering its implementation activities during 2020.

Afghanistan did not participate in the 1996–1997 Ottawa Process to create the Mine Ban Treaty, in part due to lack of clarity over the status of its representation at the United Nations (UN). Since 2003, Afghanistan has participated in every meeting of the treaty, most recently the Eighteenth Meeting of States Parties, held virtually on 16–20 November 2020, as well as the intersessional meetings in June 2021.[4]


Government forces of the former Islamic Republic of Afghanistan are not known to have used antipersonnel mines since the country became a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty in 2003.

Non-state armed groups

NSAGs in Afghanistan have used antipersonnel mines extensively for decades, including in 2020 and 2021. Victim-activated explosive devices are prohibited under the Mine Ban Treaty regardless of whether they are assembled in a factory or improvised from locally available materials. Landmines are explicitly prohibited if assembled and used in a manner intended to be detonated by the presence, proximity, or contact of a person. Most of the pressure-plate improvised mines found in Afghanistan are detonated by the weight of a human being, making them antipersonnel landmines.[5]

In June 2021, Afghanistan told States Parties that “improvised mines are still used by antigovernment elements as a weapon of choice” and said that almost two-thirds of all civilian casualties over the previous 12 months were caused by mines.[6] In February 2021, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) attributed antipersonnel mines used during 2020 “almost exclusively” to Taliban forces.[7]

The Taliban has been accused by former vice president Amrullah Saleh of using civilians to clear landmines.[8]

In February 2021, UNAMA appealed to the Taliban to “ban the use of pressure-plate IEDs and recalls previous commitments the Taliban made in this respect. These devices, as used in Afghanistan, are victim-operated and inherently indiscriminate, and function as anti-personnel landmines. The use of such weapons violates international human rights law and international humanitarian law.”[9] UNAMA has reported conducting extensive advocacy with regard to NSAGs on civilian casualties caused by pressure-plate improvised mines.[10]

Taliban media outlets claim responsibility for many attacks against military personnel and vehicles using improvised explosive devices (IEDs).[11] However, the Taliban has repeatedly denied using prohibited antipersonnel mines.[12] In September 2019, the Taliban told the Monitor that it uses command-detonated mines and not mines banned under the Mine Ban Treaty.[13] In a 2019 response to UNAMA, the Taliban stated that it uses IEDs only against military targets.[14] UNAMA reported in early 2021 that children continue to be recruited by anti-government groups to transport and emplace explosives.[15]

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack in Baghlan province on 8 June 2021 which killed ten mine action personnel and wounded 16 others.[16] The attack was condemned by the UN Security Council, the president of the Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, the ICBL, and others.[17]

The United States (US) reported in 2014 that its forces had used a single antipersonnel mine in Afghanistan, in 2002.[18]

Production and transfer

Afghanistan is not known to have ever produced or exported antipersonnel mines. Throughout many years of armed conflict, numerous sources transferred landmines to various forces fighting in Afghanistan.

Stockpile destruction and discovered mines

Afghanistan reported completion of its Mine Ban Treaty stockpile destruction obligation in October 2007, almost eight months after its deadline of 1 March 2007.[19] A total of 525,504 stockpiled antipersonnel mines were destroyed between 2003 and 2007.[20]

Since Afghanistan’s stockpile destruction declaration, it has reported the discovery and destruction of a further 85,326 antipersonnel mines, from stocks either recovered during military operations, surrendered to authorities during disarmament programs, or from arms caches found by civilians.[21] Afghanistan reported the discovery and destruction of 251 antipersonnel mines during 2020.[22]

Mines retained for training and development

Afghanistan does not retain any live mines for training in mine detection, clearance, or destruction techniques. It has trained with inert mines which have had their fuzes removed and destroyed, and are no longer capable of being used.[23]

[1] Statement of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan on the Problem of Landmines, 6 October 1998. Republished in full in ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 1999: Toward a Mine-Free World, (New York: Human Rights Watch, April 1999).

[3] The regulation is contained in an annex to the Law on Firearms, Ammunitions, and Explosive Materials. Annex No. 1 of the Law on Firearms, Ammunition and Explosive Materials, 5 September 2018. Previously, Afghanistan reported that the Ministry of Defense instructed all military forces “to respect the comprehensive ban on antipersonnel mines and the prohibition on use in any situation by militaries or individuals.” Afghanistan Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2008), Form A. In April 2016, Afghanistan wrote that, “Afghanistan has [a] long time back drafted a law as an instrument for the implementation of Article 9 of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and Convention on Cluster Munitions.” Afghanistan Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2015), Form A. See, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Database.

[4] Afghanistan has participated in every Mine Ban Treaty meeting since 2003, except the Third Review Conference in Maputo in June 2014, as its delegation was denied a transit visa en-route. Afghanistan’s Ambassador Suraya Dalil was president of the Seventeenth Meeting of States Parties, held in Geneva in November 2018.

[5] An investigation into pressure-plate mine incidents in 2017 by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) determined that roughly three-quarters of pressure-plate improvised mines were antipersonnel mines, and that a quarter were antivehicle mines. Email to the Monitor from Abdul Qudos Ziaee, UNOPS, 13 June 2018. The analysis assumed that incidents involving improvised mines with a pressure-plate that produced more than two casualties likely involved antivehicle improvised mines, while incidents with one or two casualties likely involved antipersonnel improvised mines.

[6] Statement of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings, Thematic Session: Completion and Sustainable National Capacities, held virtually, 23 June 2021.

[7] UNAMA, “Afghanistan: Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict Annual Report 2020,” February 2021, p. 48. Previously, in 2019, UNAMA attributed 96% of the use of pressure-plate improvised mines to the Taliban, causing 650 civilian casualties (275 killed and 375 injured) in 2019. See, UNAMA, “Afghanistan: Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict: Annual Report 2019,” February 2020, p. 42.

[11] See, Voice of Jihad/Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (no longer available online).

[12] For example, in October 2012, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan website denied the use of victim-activated explosive devices and said that it uses only command-detonated explosive devices: “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.” See, “Reaction of Islamic Emirate regarding accusations of UNAMA about explosive devices,” 22 October 2012.

[13] Monitor meeting with Taliban representatives, Doha, 7 September 2019.

[17] See, HALO Trust, “Messages of Condolence for Afghanistan,” June 2021; UN press release, “Afghanistan: UN condemns ‘horrendous attack’ on demining partner HALO Trust,” 9 June 2021; Statement of Ambassador Robbert Gabriëlse of the Netherlands, President of the Mine Ban Treaty Nineteenth Meeting of States Parties, 22 June 2021; and ICBL-CMC press release, “ICBL-CMC Condemns Attack on HALO Afghanistan Deminers,” 9 June 2021.

[18] The use of a mine in Afghanistan was disclosed during the announcement of a new US landmine policy in June 2014. According to the US Department of State, “since the Ottawa Convention came into force in 1999, we are—or since 1991, excuse me—we are aware of only one confirmed operational employment by U.S. military forces, a single munition in Afghanistan in 2002.” US Department of State, “Daily Press Briefing,” 27 June 2014. US forces in Afghanistan also reportedly used Claymore directional fragmentation mines in 2009 and 2010, which are not prohibited under the Mine Ban Treaty if used in command-detonated mode. See, CJ Chivers, “Turning Tables, U.S. Troops Ambush Taliban with Swift and Lethal Results,” The New York Times, 17 April 2009; and “Taliban displays ‘US weapons,” Al Jazeera, 10 November 2009.

[19] 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 150km 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, ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2007: Toward a Mine-Free World (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2007), pp. 89–90; and ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2008: Toward a Mine-Free World (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2008), pp. 79–80.

[20] Afghanistan Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2013), Form G. See, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Database. The number of stockpiled mines Afghanistan had destroyed at the time it declared completion of the program lacked clarity. See, ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2009: Toward a Mine-Free World (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2009), pp. 99–100.

[21] The types and number of mines destroyed in each location as well, as the dates of destruction, have been recorded in detail. Afghanistan Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2020), Form G. See, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Database.

[22] Afghanistan Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2020), Form B. See, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Database. The report states that 251 antipersonnel mines manufactured in China, the former Czechoslovakia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, the former Soviet Union, and the US, were seized or recovered during 2020.

[23] Reported in Afghanistan’s Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form D, each year since 2012. See, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Database.