Tunisia

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 27 August 2019

Summary: State Party Tunisia ratified the convention on 28 September 2010. It has participated in meetings of the convention, most recently in 2018. Tunisia voted in favor of a key United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2018.

Tunisia told the Monitor in 2011 that it has never used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions. It must submit its initial transparency report for the convention to formally confirm this.

Policy

The Republic of Tunisia signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 12 January 2009, ratified on 28 September 2010, and the convention entered into force for the country on 1 March 2011.

Tunisia informed the Monitor in April 2011 that it adheres to the convention under the terms of its ratification law enacted in February 2010.

Tunisia submitted its initial Article 7 transparency report on 12 June 2019. The report was originally due by 28 August 2011. Tunisia believes its existing national law is sufficient to enforce the convention, reporting that the “Ministry of Justice was formed to establish a national committee to review the criminal justice provisions, which included….crimes of the use of prohibited weapons globally.”[1]

Tunisia participated in one regional meeting of the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions, in Livingstone, Zambia in March 2008. It was the first country to sign the convention at the UN in New York after the convention was opened for signature at the Oslo Signing Conference in December 2008.[2]

Tunisia has participated in several of the convention’s meetings.[3] It attended the convention’s Eighth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2018, but did not make a statement.

Tunisia voted in favor of a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution on the Convention on Cluster Munitions in December 2018 that urges states outside the convention to “join as soon as possible.”[4] It has voted in favor of the annual UNGA resolutions promoting the convention since it was first introduced in 2015.

Tunisia has voted in favor of UNGA resolutions that express outrage at the use of cluster munitions in Syria, most recently in December 2018.[5]

Tunisia is a State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is also party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons.

Use, production, transfer, and stockpiling

In its initial Article 7 transparency report submitted 12 June 2019, Tunisia reported that it had never used, produced, transferred, or stockpiled cluster munitions.[6] Tunisia had previously reported this information to the Monitor.[7]



[1] Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report, 12 June 2019. Unofficial translation by the Monitor.

[2] For details on Tunisia’s policy and practice regarding cluster munitions through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), p. 171.

[3] Tunisia participated in the convention’s Meetings of States Parties in 2011, 2012, 2017, and 2018. It also participated in the convention’s intersessional meetings in 2012 and 2014.

[4]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 73/54, 5 December 2018.

[5]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 73/182, 17 December 2018. Tunisia voted in favor of similar resolutions in 2013–2017.

[7] “La Tunisie n’a aucune activité en lien avec la production, le stockage, le transfert ou l’utilisation des armes à sous-munitions.” Letter from Permanent Mission of Tunisia to the UN in Geneva, to Mary Wareham, Human Rights Watch, 10 April 2011.


Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 14 November 2023

Policy

The Republic of Tunisia signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 4 December 1997 and ratified it on 9 July 1999, becoming a State Party on 1 January 2000.

Tunisia has listed 10 laws that it considers implementation measures for the Mine Ban Treaty.[1]

Tunisia last submitted an Article 7 transparency report for the treaty in 2023, covering the period from April 2022 to April 2023.[2] It has provided annual updated reports every year since its initial report was submitted in July 2000.

Tunisia has participated in most meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty, including the Twentieth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in November 2022.   

Production, transfer, stockpile destruction, and retention

Tunisia has never produced or exported antipersonnel mines, but imported them in the past.[3]

Tunisia completed the destruction of 18,259 stockpiled antipersonnel mines in September 2003.[4]

In its initial declaration in July 2000, Tunisia reported retaining 5,000 antipersonnel mines (4,000 PMA-3 and 1,000 PROM-1 mines) for purposes permitted under Article 3 of the Mine Ban Treaty.[5] In its Article 7 report submitted in 2023, Tunisia reported that it retains 4,320 mines for training, and that 10 mines were consumed for training purposes between April 2022 and April 2023.[6]  

Tunisia has not specified the type of retained mines that it has destroyed. Tunisia has not reported in detail on the intended purposes and actual uses of retained mines, as agreed by States Parties in 2004.

Use

Since April 2013, new use of improvised mines and other improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by non-state armed groups (NSAGs) has been reported in the governorates of Gafsa and Qsrein Wilaya/Kasserine, near the Algerian border.[7] Villagers in the area have stated that the landmines inhibit their livelihoods, and that the mines have been laid with no known pattern or warnings.[8]

New casualties caused by victim-activated improvised mines in Tunisia were reported in 2021–2022 in Jebel Al-Cha’anby, in Qsrein Wilaya/Kasserine governorate.[9] In 2019, multiple incidents were reported in Gafsa governorate.[10] The Monitor has been unable to confirm when these improvised mines were laid. Previously, in May 2013, the Ministry of Defense stated that the mines laid in Jebel Al-Cha’anby were homemade mines constructed from a plastic container with a chemical initiator, making detection difficult.[11] A spokesperson said, “the mines that exploded were made of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and flammable materials that can easily explode when exposed to heat.”[12]

In May 2013, a Tunisian police official told Human Rights Watch (HRW) that casualties in April 2013 were caused by “artisanal” antipersonnel mines that exploded horizontally. From this description, the landmines would appear to be homemade explosive devices initiated by a tripwire, similar to Claymore-type mines.[13] Tunisia has not reported on this improvised mine contamination in its annual Article 7 transparency reports.



[1] Tunisia Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for the period April 2019 to April 2020), Form A. See, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Database. The most salient actions include Law No. 2003-1266, dated 9 June 2003; Law No. 2005-47, dated 27 June 2005; and Law No. 2006-464, dated 15 February 2006.

[2] Tunisia Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for the period April 2022 to April 2023).

[3] See, ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2005: Toward a Mine-Free World (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, October 2005), p. 577.

[4] See, ICBL, Landmine Monitor Report 2004: Toward a Mine-Free World (New York: Human Rights Watch, October 2004), p. 821.

[5] Tunisia Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, 9 July 2000, Form D.

[6] Tunisia Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report, 4 May 2003, Form D. In its Article 7 report submitted in 2022, Tunisia reported that it retained 4,341 mines and that 24 mines were consumed during the reporting period. Tunisia Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for the period April 2021 to April 2022), Form D. The Monitor cannot account for the discrepancy of 11 retained mines between the 2022 and 2023 transparency reports.

[7] Two Islamist NSAGs operating in the area reportedly merged in January 2014: Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia and the Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade.

[8] Lilia Blaise, Hamdi Tlili, and Fadil Aliriza,“Tunisia's forgotten victims of jihadist landmines,” France 24, 27 May 2021.

[9] See, for example, “Tunisia: Woman Injured in Landmine Explosion Near Jebal Samema,” All Africa, 5 December 2021; “Tunisia’s defense minister visits soldiers wounded in Mount Salloum clashes,” Arab News, 16 August 2022; “Landmine blast injures teenage girl in Tunisia,” The North Africa Post, 16 February 2021; “Tunisia: Landmines claim more lives in Kasserine, two children killed in blast,” The North Africa Journal, 11 March 2021; “Tunisia: Citizen Dies in Landmine Blast in Mount Semmama, Kasserine,” Tunis Afrique Presse, 16 June 2021; and “Tunisia: Soldier wounded in landmine blast in restive Kasserine,” The North Africa Post, 20 April 2020.

[10] See, for example, “4 wounded in landmine blast in southwestern Tunisia,” Xinhua, 21 April 2019; and “1 soldier injured in landmine explosion in Tunisia,” Xinhua, 2 February 2019.

[13] Email from HRW researcher, 3 May 2013.


Impact

Last updated: 22 February 2024

COUNTRY SUMMARY

Tunisia reported that it completed clearance of all known confirmed hazardous areas (CHAs) contaminated by landmines in 2009. However, Tunisia has reported the existence of suspected hazardous areas (SHAs) thought to be contaminated by explosive ordnance dating from World War II, including residual contamination by both antipersonnel and antivehicle mines.[1]

Tunisia is a State Party to both the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Ban Treaty. Since 2013, improvised mines, or victim-activated improvised explosive devices (IEDs), have regularly been reported to have inflicted casualties, predominantly in mountainous regions in the northwest and southwest of Tunisia. However, Tunisia has yet to inform States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty of contamination by improvised mines, and needs to clarify the type and extent of this contamination. Tunisia is not contaminated by cluster munition remnants.

 

No risk education or victim assistance activities were reported in 2022. However, the Tunisian government has warned people not to enter military areas where contamination was suspected. Survivors of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) were reported to have received emergency evacuation and medical care in local hospitals.[2]

 

ASSESSING THE IMPACT

Contamination

Landmine contamination

 

In its Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 report for calendar year 2022, Tunisia reported the presence of potential residual landmine contamination in the south (Mareth, Matmata, and El Hamma); center (Kasserine and Faideh); and north (Cap-Bon and the northwest) of the country.[3]

Tunisia did not report on improvised mine contamination, though incidents causing casualties were regularly reported in the media. Casualties due to improvised mines have been reported in the mountainous western regions of the governorates of Kasserine, Kef, and Jendouba; in southwest Tunisia (Gafsa governorate); and in central Tunisia (Sidi Bouzid governorate). The majority of these devices were reported to be small improvised antipersonnel mines, triggered by victim-activated pressure-plates.[4]

Cluster munition remnants contamination

Tunisia has reported that it is not contaminated by cluster munition remnants.[5]

Other types of contamination

The type and quantity of residual contamination in Tunisia, dating from the World War II era, is unknown. However, in addition to landmines, there is likely to be other types of unexploded ordnance (UXO).[6]

Casualties

From 2000–2022, the Monitor has recorded 279 mine/ERW casualties (45 killed, 230 injured, and four with an unknown survival unknown) in Tunisia.

 

5-year casualties total: 2018–2022

Year

Injured

Killed

Unknown

Total

2022

0

0

0

0

2021

7

9

0

16

2020

3

1

0

4

2019

18

1

0

19

2018

41

7

0

48

 

No mine/ERW casualties were recorded in Tunisia in 2022, representing a significant decrease from 16 recorded in 2021, all due to mines. Mine casualties continued to be evidenced in 2023, with six people reported injured in Kasserine governorate as of September.[7]

 

COORDINATION

There is no national body responsible for the management, coordination, and planning of mine action activities in Tunisia.

 

ADDRESSING THE IMPACT

Clearance

 

Tunisia reported completing clearance of all known mined areas in March 2009.[8] Tunisia has not reported on clearance of improvised mines in the country.

Risk education

 

No risk education activities have been reported in Tunisia since 2013.[9]

Victim assistance

 

No specific mine/ERW victim assistance coordination mechanism was reported in Tunisia in 2022, while there are no specific laws or policies in place.

 

The Ministry of Social Affairs is responsible for implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities in Tunisia, including mine/ERW survivors.[10] It manages centers providing services to persons with disabilities that lack other means of support.[11]



[1] Tunisia Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2022), Form C, p. 5. See, Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Database.

[2]Kasserine: Man loses leg in mine explosion in Djebel Mghila,” La Presse, 10 April 2023; “Kasserine: a mine explosion injures one person in Djebel Mghila,” Le Temps, 10 April 2023; Oussama Khitouche, “Tunisia: a soldier wounded in a mine explosion,” Tunisie Numérique, 23 March 2023; and “Four Tunisian soldiers wounded in a mine explosion,” France 24, 3 February 2021.

[3] Tunisia Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2022), Form C, p. 5.

[4] Matt Herbert, “The Insurgency in Tunisia’s Western Borderlands,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 28 June 2018.

[5] Tunisia Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2022), p. 1. See, Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Database.

[6] Tunisia Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2022), Form C, p. 5.

[7] Monitor media scanning and analysis of Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) data for calendar years 2022–2023. See, Clionadh Raleigh, Andrew Linke, Håvard Hegre, and Joakim Karlsen, “Introducing ACLED: An Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset,” Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 47, Issue 5, September 2010, pp. 651–660.

[8] Tunisia Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for calendar year 2022), Form C, p. 5, and Form F, p. 9.

[9] Tunisia Mine Ban Treaty Article 7 Report (for the period April 2012–April 2013), Form I.

[10] Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), “Combined second and third periodic reports submitted by Tunisia under article 35 of the Convention, due in 2018,” 28 June 2019, p. 4.

[11] United States (US) Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, “2022 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Tunisia,” March 2023.