Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 15 November 2021


The Arab Republic of Egypt has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty.

In November 2020, Egypt repeated its regularly stated reasons for opposing the treaty, reiterating that antipersonnel landmines are seen as a key means for securing its borders, and that responsibility for clearance is not assigned in the treaty to those who laid the mines in the past.[1]

Egypt abstained from voting on the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 75/52, which supports the full universalization and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty, on 7 December 2020. Egypt has also abstained from the vote in all previous years.

Egypt did not attend the treaty’s Eighteenth Meeting of States Parties, held virtually in November 2020. Egypt participated as an observer at the treaty’s Fourth Review Conference in November 2019 in Oslo, but did not make any statements. Egypt previously attended the treaty’s Third Review Conference in 2014, and Meetings of States Parties in 2010 and 2012–2013.

Egypt signed the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) in 1981, but has never ratified it. Egypt is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.


New use of improvised landmines and victim-activated booby-traps, by militants linked to the Islamic State, was reported by the media to have occurred in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in July or August 2020. These devices have resulted in numerous civilian casualties during resettlement of evacuated villages in the conflict area since October 2020.[2]

Islamic State militants also claimed to have emplaced mines on the perimeter of a police station during a May 2015 attack in the Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid.[3] Egyptian officials have claimed that Islamic State is manufacturing munitions from explosives recovered from mines in uncleared minefields in Egypt.[4] In April 2017, the Ministry of Interior reported that it had uncovered a small cache of Iranian-made mines.[5] In May 2020, the Sinai Tribes Union stated that two Tarabin tribesmen, involved in an assault on an Islamic State base, were killed by an explosion caused by mines emplaced just before the assault.[6]

The military stated in May 2015 to an Egyptian newspaper that it had begun emplacing landmines around military outposts in Sinai, which resulted in the reported deaths of two militants.[7] Egypt did not respond to a letter sent by the ICBL in June 2015 requesting clarification on the report.

In July 2012, a retired military engineer, General Mohamed Khater, who was formerly responsible for mine clearance in the Engineering Corps, reportedly stated that the Egyptian Armed Forces had laid a minefield in 2011 on the border with Libya, presumably when forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi lost control of the border to anti-Gaddafi resistance fighters. The Monitor was not able to verify his claim.

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

Egypt has repeatedly stated that it stopped production of antipersonnel mines in 1988, and stopped exporting them in 1984.[8] In December 2004, Egypt’s Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister stated that “the Egyptian government has imposed a moratorium on all export and production activities related to anti-personnel mines.”[9] This was the first time that Egypt publicly and officially announced a moratorium on production.[10] The Monitor is not aware of any official decrees or laws to implement permanent prohibitions on the production or export of antipersonnel mines. In November 2020, Egypt reiterated that it had “imposed a moratorium on its capacity to produce and export landmines since the 1980s.”[11]

However, in February 2017, the Egyptian Ministry of Military Production advertised Heliopolis plastic antipersonnel landmines for sale at its display at the International Defence Exhibition (IDEX) arms fair in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).[12] Egyptian authorities did not respond to a June 2017 request from the Monitor for further information regarding the apparent change in policy on export, and possibly production, indicated by the IDEX sales brochure.

Egypt is believed to possess a large stockpile of antipersonnel mines, but no details are available on the size and composition of the stockpile, as it is considered a state secret.

[1] “On several occasions, Egypt has expressed its concerns of the imbalanced nature of this instrument, which was developed outside the framework of the UN, mindful of the humanitarian situation associated with landmines Egypt has a moratorium on the production and export of mines since the 1980s, long before the conclusion of this convention. We believe the convention lacks the balance between the humanitarian concerns related to AP mines and their possible legitimate military uses, especially in countries with long borders facing extraordinary security challenges. Does not impose any obligation on states to remove AP mines they have placed in the territory of other states making it almost impossible for many states to meet demining obligations on their own.” The statement went on to say that Egypt is contaminated by 22 million landmines, a figure that Egypt hasn’t changed despite recent European Union (EU)-funded clearance, and land release by the Egyptian authorities of an estimated one-fifth of its previously suspected contaminated area. Egypt Explanation of Vote on Resolution L.26, 75th Session, UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee, New York, 6 November 2020.

[2] See, “Egyptians return to Sinai homes to find Islamic State booby traps,” Middle East Eye, 24 October 2020.

[3] Erin Cunningham and Loveday Morris, “Militants launch major assault in Egypt’s Sinai,” Washington Post, 1 July 2015.

[4] Douglas Ernst, “ISIS digs up Nazi-era land mines of the Sahara, adds weapons to modern arsenal,” Washington Times, 10 August 2016.

[5] “How did Iran's weapons reach the Muslim Brotherhood's cells in Egypt?” Al Arabia, 17 April 2017. Photograph shows what appears to be an Iranian No. 4 antipersonnel blast mine. This type has been previously found in Sudan, but Egyptian authorities allege it was smuggled from Gaza.

[7] “New security plans to ‘entrap’ Sinai militants by landmines,” The Cairo Post, 20 May 2015.

[8] Statement of Egypt, Mine Ban Treaty Seventh Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 22 September 2006; and Egypt, Explanation of Vote on Resolution L.45, 74th Session, UNGA First Committee, New York, 5 November 2019. UNGA, Official Records, A/C.1/74/PV24, pp. 22–23.

[9] Statement of Egypt, Mine Ban Treaty First Review Conference, Nairobi, 2 December 2004.

[10] Egypt told a UN assessment mission in February 2000 that it ceased export of antipersonnel mines in 1984 and ended production in 1988, and several Egyptian officials over the years also told the Monitor informally that production and trade had stopped. However, Egypt has not responded to repeated requests by the Monitor to make that position formal and public in writing. The Monitor has therefore kept Egypt on its list of producers. Egypt reportedly produced two types of low metal content blast antipersonnel mines, several variations of bounding fragmentation mines, and a Claymore-type mine. There is no publicly available evidence that Egypt has produced or exported antipersonnel mines in recent years. See, ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2004: Toward a Mine-Free World (New York: Human Rights Watch, October 2004), p. 957.

[11] Egypt Explanation of Vote on Resolution L.26, 75th Session, UNGA First Committee, New York, 6 November 2020.

[12] Brochure, Heliopolis Co. for Chemical Industries, National Organization for Military Production, Ministry of Military Production, Arab Republic of Egypt, p. 23. AP T78 and AP T79 plastic antipersonnel landmines. Received from Omega Research Foundation via Twitter, 3 March 2017.