Mine Ban Policy

Last updated: 16 October 2020


The Socialist Republic of Vietnam has not acceded to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Vietnam still considers antipersonnel mines as a legitimate weapon of self-defense and has cited national security concerns, especially border security, as reasons for not joining the Mine Ban Treaty.[1]

In September 2012, a military officer noted that Vietnam had been studying the treaty, but said that stockpiles of mines held by countries outside the treaty were of concern to Vietnam since they could be used at any time.[2] In June 2011, a representative from Vietnam said it was unlikely that the country would join the Mine Ban Treaty because they were still using mines on their borders “as a form of defense.” The representative added that Vietnam was not necessarily laying new mines, but it was actively maintaining them.[3] However, in an apparent review of policy, in 2013 a Ministry of Defence official stated to the Monitor that there was no longer any political reason to maintain minefields on its border with China, and that border minefields were being removed along with demarcation to ease economic activities with neighboring countries.[4]

Vietnam sent an observer delegation to the Twelfth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in Geneva in December 2012, but did not make any statements. Vietnam has not attended any meetings since. Vietnam made its only statement to States Parties during intersessional meetings in June 2008, where it stated, “We support the humanitarian aspects of the Ottawa Convention of Anti-personnel Landmines but we could not sign it yet as it regrettably does not duly take into account the legitimate security concerns of many countries including Vietnam.”[5] Vietnam attended the Bangkok Symposium on Enhancing Cooperation and Assistance in June 2013.

On 12 December 2019, Vietnam abstained from voting on United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 74/61, which calls for universalization and full implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.[6] Vietnam has also abstained from voting on the annual resolution promoting the treaty in previous years.

Vietnam signed, but has not ratified, the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). Vietnam is not party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

On the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, on 4 April 2019, Vietnam announced Decree 18, its first official regulation regarding all activities related to landmine clearance, victim assistance and advocacy carried out in Vietnam by national or foreign organizations, agencies, or individuals. Vietnam National Mine Action Center (VNMAC) Deputy Director, Colonel Nguyen Hanh Phuc, was reported to say: “The decree covers all regulations on resolving the consequences of landmines left by wars in Vietnam. This is the first legal document which shows Vietnam’s international integration in resolving landmine consequences and the Vietnamese government’s strong commitment to issues such as appropriate care for the victims.”[7]

Production, stockpiling, transfer, and use

Vietnam has not made any new official statements regarding its continued need, or capacity, for the production of antipersonnel mines and has not made any new statements regarding the types and quantities it holds in stockpile.

Vietnam produced antipersonnel mines in the past.[8] In 2008, officials said that Vietnam has not produced mines since the Mine Ban Treaty came into force, but also emphasized that it reserves the right to produce mines in the future.[9] Until Vietnam issues an official public statement that it does not currently and will not in the future produce antipersonnel mines, the Monitor will continue to list Vietnam as one of the few remaining global manufacturers.

In 2003, an official confirmed the existence of a stockpile of antipersonnel mines, saying, “Vietnam does not keep large stores of landmines, but we have enough to protect our country against invasion.”[10] In September 2012, a military officer stated that in the past two years (2011–2012), Vietnam destroyed 287 tons of stockpiled antipersonnel mines as well as destroying a limited number of antivehicle mines. While unable to provide a stockpile figure, the officer stated that a “significant amount of mines stocked in Vietnam have been destroyed” and that each year Vietnam destroys around 100 tons of mines. The officer also stated Vietnam needs new technology for the destruction of munitions and support from the international community.[11]

Vietnam told States Parties in June 2008, “we strictly observe our policy not to export” antipersonnel mines.[12] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs previously wrote to the Monitor, stating that “Vietnam has never exported and will never export mines.”[13]

Vietnam is not thought to have used antipersonnel mines since its occupation of Cambodia in the 1980s, but it has said it reserves the right to use antipersonnel mines in the future.[14]

[2] ICBL meeting with Sr. Col. Phan Duc Tuan, Vice-Commander of Engineering Command, Ministry of Defence, in Oslo, 14 September 2012.

[3] CMC meeting with Phan Hai Anh, Assistant Director General, Department of International Organizations, in Geneva, 27 June 2011.

[4] Monitor interview with Col. Nguyen Tanh Ban, Head of Bomb and Mine Department, Ministry of Defence, in Lusaka, 13 September 2013.

[5] Statement of Vietnam, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on General Status and Operation, Geneva, 2 June 2008; and see, Landmine Monitor Report 2008, pp. 1,050–1,051.

[7]Vietnam makes progress in landmine clearance,” The Voice of Vietnam, 4 April 2019. Article 26 defines the rights of explosive remnants of war (ERW)/landmine victims to receive preliminary medical support, healthcare, rehabilitation, education, vocational training, employment support and social protection from the government. It also defines the rights for victims’ children to receive social assistance, education scholarships, and benefit from existing rights for persons with disabilities in accordance with related regulations and laws. Article 25 provides for advocacy on the adverse impacts of landmines. Copy of law on file with the Monitor.

[8] In the past, Vietnam produced copies of Chinese, Soviet, and United States (US) mines. The only mine Vietnam has reportedly produced since the 1990s is the “apple mine,” which is a recycled version of the BLU-24 (cluster) submunition dropped by the US during the Vietnam War. See, Landmine Monitor Report 2006, p. 1,115; and Landmine Monitor Report 1999, p. 513.

[9] See, Landmine Monitor Report 2008, p. 1,051. In 2005 and 2006, officials from the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Foreign Affairs told visiting delegations that Vietnam no longer produces antipersonnel mines. See, Landmine Monitor Report 2007, p. 1,023.

[10] Interview with Lt.-Gen. Vu Tan, Ministry of National Defense, Hanoi, 13 May 2003. The Ministry of Defence told the ICBL in 2006 that the stockpile consists only of mines recovered from cleared minefields. See, Landmine Monitor Report 2007, p. 1,024. In May 2008, an army official informed a Canadian government delegation that Vietnam’s stockpile of antipersonnel mines will expire in a few years. He stated that Vietnam has gradually started to destroy the mines “lot by lot.” See, Landmine Monitor Report 2008, p. 1,051.

[11] ICBL meeting with Sr. Col. Tuan, Ministry of Defence, in Oslo, 14 September 2012.

[12] Statement of Vietnam, Mine Ban Treaty Standing Committee on General Status and Operation, Geneva, 2 June 2008.

[13] Letter from Nguyen Manh Hung, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 8 March 2001. An internal policy document provided to the Monitor by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “The Question of Antipersonnel Mines,” 2 March 2000, also stated that Vietnam has not and will never export antipersonnel mines. Despite the denial of past exports, it appears Vietnam provided antipersonnel mines to Cambodia, perhaps until the early 1990s.