Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 12 November 2020


The Republic of Iraq acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 15 August 2007, becoming a State Party on 1 February 2008.

Iraq has not enacted legislation to implement the Mine Ban Treaty, but a government official said in 2012 that draft legislation was being prepared.[1] Iraq had not previously indicated if national implementation legislation to enforce the treaty’s prohibitions domestically was being pursued or if existing laws were considered adequate.[2]

The Iraqi Alliance for Disability Organizations (IADO) has continued to promote a landmine ban and organized an event together with the government of Iraq in April 2015 to celebrate the Mine Ban Treaty’s achievements and to consider implementation challenges as part of the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.[3]

Since the Second Review Conference in 2009, Iraq has attended almost every meeting of the Mine Ban Treaty. Iraq participated in the convention’s Fourth Review Conference in Oslo, Norway in November 2019, where it provided an update on clearance efforts and called for the international community to continue to support clearance operations.[4] Iraq also participated in the treaty’s intersessional meetings in June–July 2020, where it made statements on cooperation and assistance, compliance, and victim assistance.[5] Iraq served on the Committee on Cooperative Compliance from 2016–2018 and 2019–2021.

On 12 December 2019, Iraq voted in favor of the annual United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) resolution promoting implementation of the convention, as it has done in previous years.[6]

Iraq is a State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, while Iraq ratified the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and all its protocols on 24 September 2014.

Production and transfer

Iraq produced antipersonnel mines in the past, including in the period leading up to the conflict with a coalition led by United States (US) in 2003. Iraq previously manufactured a copy of the Italian Valmara 69 bounding antipersonnel mine, developed at least one antipersonnel mine with Yugoslav assistance, and manufactured one ex-Soviet model and two older Italian mine designs.[7] All mine production facilities were apparently destroyed during the coalition bombing campaign in 2003.[8] Iraq reported that it has no intention to reconstruct its production capacity.[9]

The vast majority of mines used in Kuwait and Iraqi Kurdistan were imported. The US Army and the Defense Intelligence Agency have identified antipersonnel mines from the following countries as having been used by Iraq in Iraqi Kurdistan, in Kuwait, on the borders with Kuwait and/or Saudi Arabia, or found in Iraqi stocks: Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Italy, Romania, Singapore, the former Soviet Union, and the US.[10]

There have been no reports or allegations of landmine transfers from Iraq since the 1990s.


For the ninth year in a row, there were not any confirmed reports of new use of antipersonnel mines by Iraqi government forces or its international coalition partners. From 2014–2018, the Islamic State, fighting the government of Iraq, used improvised landmines, other types of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and victim-activated booby-traps.[11] The extent to which IEDs were command-detonated or victim-activated is not clear.

The Islamic State consistently left improvised mines and booby-traps behind as it retreated, which some experts believe could take up to 30 years to clear.[12] In 2018, Mines Advisory Groups (MAG) successfully cleared nearly 10,000 improvised mines and other improvised devices from Iraq.[13]

In October 2015, Iraq called for further assistance to address its humanitarian problem with uncleared landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) including cluster munition remnants, which it said has been “further compounded by terrorist groups, notably ISIS [Islamic State] planting landmines and explosive devices to prevent the return of Iraqi forces to the areas.”[14] Iraq has blamed terrorist non-state armed groups and Islamic State, which has fought government forces since 2014, for “a dramatic increase the number of mines, UXOs [unexploded ordnance] and IEDs” in the country, as well as for the increasing number of displaced persons.[15] In May 2015, Reuters reported that Islamic State fighters laid landmines in Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s western desert province of Anbar.[16] Research organization Conflict Armament Research said in April 2015 that Islamic State forces were producing and deploying IEDs on an industrial scale.[17] In February 2017, the Iraqi government repeated its calls for help from the international community in clearing mines from areas freed from Islamic State control.[18]

Stockpiling and destruction

Iraq’s treaty deadline for the destruction of its stockpiles of antipersonnel mines was 1 February 2012.[19] In June 2011, Iraq stated that it destroyed 645 out of 690 antipersonnel mines stockpiled in the Kurdistan region, retaining 45 mines for training purposes.[20] In its Article 7 report for calendar year 2015, Iraq reported zero mines retained for training and research.[21]

The manner in which Iraq has reported on the number of mines it retains for training and research purposes has been inconsistent and confusing. It appears that at least 45 mines were retained in the Kurdistan region for training purposes since the end of the stockpile destruction programs. Adding to this confusion is a claim in its 2011 Article 7 report, where Iraq states that 793 mines were retained for training after the mines were recovered during clearance operations.[22] The Monitor cannot sufficiently assess the manner by which Iraq implements Article 3 based solely on the information provided by Iraq in its annual transparency reports.

In previous Monitor reports, it was noted that substantial but decreasing numbers of antipersonnel landmines were recovered by foreign and Iraqi forces from caches. The Monitor has not found any information regarding seizures during the current reporting period. Iraq reported that it destroyed 2,941 antipersonnel mines from mined areas in 2019.[23] The Iraqi government had not previously reported on recovered mines or their destruction in its Article 7 reports.

[1] Meeting with Bakhshan Assad, Head of Rehabilitation Department, Ministry of Public Health, with Maythem Obead, Head of Victim Assistance and Mine Risk Education Department of Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (MAVAA), with Soran Majeed, Victim Assistance Officer, and with Ibrahim Baba-Ali, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Iraq, in Geneva, 23 May 2012. See also, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2013), Form A.

[2] Iraq has only reported on the legal framework for mine action. Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2009), Form A.

[4] Statement of Iraq, Mine Ban Treaty Fourth Review Conference, Oslo, 29 November 2019.

[5] Statement of Iraq, Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings, 30 June 2020; statement of Iraq, Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings, 2 July 2020; and statement of Iraq, Mine Ban Treaty intersessional meetings, 2 July 2020.

[7] Middle East Watch, Hidden Death: Land Mines and Civilian Casualties in Iraqi Kurdistan (New York: Human Rights Watch, October 1992), pp. 40–41; and US Army Intelligence Agency-Foreign Science and Technology Center, “Operation Desert Shield Special Report: Iraqi Combat Engineer Capabilities, Supplement 2: Barriers and Fortification Protection,” 30 November 1990, AST-266OZ-131-90-SUP 2, p. 31.

[8] Interview with Mowafak Ayoub, Director, Disarmament Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Geneva, 10 February 2004. Iraqi and US sources requesting anonymity indicated that the Aloa’oa’a and Hutten factories in Alexandria and the Aloudisie factory in Al Youssfiz were destroyed. For details on previous production, see, Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 886–887. In 2005, the Monitor removed Iraq from its list of countries producing antipersonnel mines or reserving the right to produce them, following the destruction of Iraq’s production facilities and the government’s statements in support of banning antipersonnel mines.

[9] Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, Form E, 31 July 2008. The report also states: “The PMN Anti-Personnel mine was produced in this factory. Shortly before the war of 2003 however, a defect in these mines resulted in restricting the use of these mines. As far as can be determined, the stocks of these mines in military ammunition dumps have been dealt with by the US Corps of Military Engineering Conventional Munitions Destruction Project. Iraq also developed the capacity to produce Valmara 69 mines but apparently this capacity was never used to physically produce Valmara mines.”

[10] Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Physicians for Human Rights, Landmines: A Deadly Legacy (New York: HRW, October 1993), p. 104.

[11] See, for example, “ISIS’s latest threat: laying landmines,” IRIN, 6 November 2014; and Mike Giglio, “The Hidden Enemy in Iraq,” Buzzfeed, 19 March 2015.

[12]Islamic State is losing land but leaving mines behind,” The Economist, 30 March 2017.

[13] Chris Loughran and Sean Sutton, “MAG: Clearing Improvised Landmines in Iraq,” The Journal of Conventional Weapons Destruction, April 2017.

[14] Statement of Iraq, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 26 October 2015.

[15] Statement of Iraq, Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meetings, Geneva, 25 June 2015.

[17] Forum on the Arms Trade and Stimson, “Tracking arms in conflict: Lessons from Syria and Iraq,” 7 April 2015.

[19] The Monitor has previously noted that Iraq was believed to stockpile, at some point, mines manufactured by Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, Egypt, France, Italy, Romania, Singapore, the former Soviet Union, and the US, in addition to Iraqi-manufactured mines.

[20] Statement of Iraq, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction, Geneva, 20 June 2011.