Last Updated: 23 November 2012

Mine Action

Contamination and Impact


Armenia is affected by mines, primarily as a result of the conflict with Azerbaijan in 1988–1994. In 2005, the Armenia Landmine Impact Survey identified 60 communities impacted by a total of 102 suspect hazardous areas (SHAs). The areas were in five districts bordering Azerbaijan. It was estimated that 321.7km2 were contaminated by mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW),[1]but this total is likely to be significantly reduced by subsequent non-technical and technical survey.

An evaluation of European Commission (EC) funding for mine action in the southern Caucasus by the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), published in 2009, concluded that Armenia has a “modest” mine problem compared to other countries although there is “significant impact” on the border areas.[2] It is not known whether Armenia’s borders with Georgia and Turkey are also contaminated.

Cluster munition remnants and other explosive remnants of war

In addition to recorded hazardous areas within Armenia, there is believed to be significant contamination, including cluster munition remnants, on the territory seized from Azerbaijan during the 1988–1994 conflict and which remains under the control of Armenia.[3] There are also believed to be ammunition storage areas remaining from the period when Armenia was under Soviet control. Their current status is not known.

Mine Action Program

An Interagency Governmental Commission on Mine Action was set up in October 2005, but it is not known whether it is still active. The commission is responsible for developing the national mine action strategy, demining contaminated areas in support of economic development, and mobilizing the necessary resources. All clearance has been conducted by the army.

In January 2011, the ITF Enhancing Human Security (formerly the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance; hereinafter, ITF) and the Armenian Humanitarian Demining and Expertise Centre (AHDEC) under the Ministry of Defence signed a memorandum of understanding to support the establishment of a civilian mine action center as a state non-commercial entity and to support efforts to develop a mine action program, particularly by developing a strategy and an organizational structure to address the mine/ERW problem in Armenia.[4]

On 17 February 2012, the government of Armenia changed the legal status of the Center for Humanitarian Demining and Expertise, established in March 2002, from an entity within the Ministry of Defence to a state non-profit organization with the flexibility to engage with international programs. Under its new status the center can conduct negotiations with international humanitarian demining organizations, accept international funding, sign contracts, and receive assistance. The center is based in Etchmiadzin, a town 20km from the capital, Yerevan.[5] It has been reported that since 2002, deminers trained at the center have cleared 2km2 of mine contaminated land in unspecified areas of the country,[6] just a fraction of the total SHA.

In June 2011, in a follow-up meeting, the ITF and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) organized a meeting in Yerevan with stakeholders including the Ministry of Defense, the United States (US) Embassy, the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD), and the Ministry of Interior to plan the next steps in establishing a civilian-led mine action center. Based on the meeting the ITF developed a proposal, “Support to Civilian Mine Action Programme in Armenia” that included capacity building, an update on the extent of the landmine problem in Armenia, the release of up to 50km2 of SHAs, as well as the establishment of operational procedures and development of a national strategic plan. The ITF also developed draft national mine action standards for the AHDEC.[7]

In July 2012, the ITF reported the government of Armenia would contribute approximately US$195,000 in 2012 for national staff, premises, and some equipment costs of the AHDEC. According to the ITF, Armenia has committed to multi-year support toward the center and the national mine action program.[8]

The US has approved funding for the FSD part of the joint ITF/FSD project proposal, where FSD will work on land release and confirmation of mine contamination. According to the ITF, the US is the only donor that is interested in supporting the establishment of a civilian mine action program. However, the ITF has continued to look for donor support to train and partially equip the AHDEC staff to enable the mine action center and the national mine action program to commence operations independently.[9]

Land Release

Armenia does not report systematically on its mine clearance operations and it is not known whether clearance is still ongoing. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, although Armenia has not adhered to the Mine Ban Treaty, it voluntarily provides information on antipersonnel mines to the UN and to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe for transparency and confidence-building.[10]Whatever information is provided, however, is not publicly available.

In the past, demining in Armenia has been slow and productivity rates low, with the Ministry of Defence reporting some 1.8km2 of land cleared from 2002 to the end of 2008.[11]Armenia has not responded to inquiries from the Monitor about progress in its mine action program, or given details of its clearance results in recent years.

Risk Education

No formal mine/ERW risk education activities are believed to have been conducted in Armenia since mid-2007.[12]


[1] UNDP, “Landmine Impact Survey, Republic of Armenia, 2005,” Yerevan, p. 8.

[3] See ICBL-CMC, “Country Profiles: Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh,”   

[4] Email from Luka Buhin, Project Manager, ITF, 15 February 2011.


[5]Legal status of the Center for Humanitarian Demining changed,” Information Centre on NATO in Armenia, 17 February 2011; and The New Legal Status of the Humanitarian De-Mining Center,” Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Armenia, 17 February 2011.

[7] Email from Luka Buhin, ITF, 15 February 2011 and ITF, “2011 Annual Report,” p. 70.

[8] Email from Iztok Hočevar, Advisor to the Director for International Relations, ITF, 26 July 2012.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Security and defense, Armenia in the international system of conventional arms control,”

[11] Email from Maj. Armen Zakaryan, Ministry of Defence, 10 August 2009.

[12] Emails from Edmon Azaryan, Head of Disaster Management and Population Movement, Armenian Red Cross Society, 6 May 2009; from Alvard Poghosyan, Education Officer, UNICEF, 4 May 2009; and from Marina Ter-Sargsyan, Operations Manager, UNICEF, Yerevan, 13 April 2011.