Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 18 December 2019


The Republic of Somaliland proclaimed independence from Somalia in 1991 after the fall of the government of Siad Barre. Somaliland is not recognized by the international community as an independent state, and thus it is not in a position to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty. Somaliland authorities have frequently expressed their commitment to a mine ban since 1997.[1] Neighboring Somalia acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty on 16 April 2012.

Somaliland’s Antipersonnel Mine Ban Act took effect in 2009.[2] The act bans use, possession, development, production, acquisition, and transfer of antipersonnel mines by any civilian or government official.[3]

The Somaliland Mine Action Center (SMAC), under the direction of the Office of the Vice-President, is responsible for coordinating implementation of the Act. The Office of the Vice-President is required by the act to submit annual transparency reports to the Legislative Assembly on implementation of the act.[4] As of October 2019, it was not known if a report had been submitted.

Production, transfer, stockpiling, and use

There are no indications that Somaliland has produced, exported, or acquired new landmines since proclaiming independence. There have been no confirmed instances of new use of antipersonnel mines.[5]

Officials have acknowledged the existence of a stockpile of antipersonnel mines, but have not provided information on numbers or types. The Antipersonnel Mine Ban Act requires the destruction of all stockpiled antipersonnel mines held by the government of Somaliland within four years.[6] As of October 2019, it is unclear whether destruction of stockpiled mines has occurred.

In May 2011, Hargeisa University Professor Ahmed Esa said that Somaliland had destroyed stockpiles under the control of its army as well as mines confiscated from civilians.[7] In the past, Somaliland has periodically sent stockpiled antipersonnel and antivehicle mines, among other weapons and ammunition, to demining organizations operating in Somaliland for destruction.[8]

At least 24 types of antipersonnel mines from 10 different countries have been identified by clearance operators in Somaliland. At least half of the landmines laid in Somaliland are plastic.[9]

[1] On 1 March 1999, the House of Representatives passed a nonbinding resolution calling for a total ban on landmines. In November 2004, the Vice-President of Somaliland spoke of “our already declared unilateral compliance” with the Mine Ban Treaty. See, Landmine Monitor Report 2005, p. 976.

[2] The Act provides for penal sanctions for persons found violating the prohibitions in the legislation, including extraterritorial violations of the prohibitions by its citizens. “Antipersonnel Mine Ban Act 2007,” English translation, Articles 5, 6, 7, and 10. Penalties for individuals or groups are one to three years imprisonment or a fine of SOS1–2 million (US$601–1,202). For a corporate body, NGO, or government official, the penalty is a fine between SOS5–10 million (US$3,005–6,010). The Act was drafted by the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Internal Affairs, Security and Defense with the assistance of the IPRT, SMAC, and Geneva Call.

[3] Antipersonnel Mine Ban Act 2007, Art. 9.

[4] Ibid., Art. 15.

[5] In late 2003 and early 2004, there were allegations of use of antipersonnel mines by the forces of both Somaliland and Puntland in their conflict over the town of Las Anod in the disputed Sool region. Both sides denied using mines, and no compelling evidence was found. See, Landmine Monitor Report 2004, pp. 1,228–1,229.

[6] Antipersonnel Mine Ban Act 2007, Art. 10.

[7] “Healthcare, education gains as Somaliland marks 20th anniversary,” IRIN (Hargeisa), 20 May 2011.

[8] See, Landmine Monitor Report 2007, pp. 1,079–1,080. Most notably, in 2002, Danish Demining Group destroyed 7,517 stockpiled mines received from the Ministry of Defense.

[9] “Somalia: Rising Number of Child Landmine Victims in Somaliland,” IRIN (Hargeisa), 2 February 2011.