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Country Reports
BANGLADESH, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

Bangladesh signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 7 May 1998. It is the only South Asian nation to sign. It has not yet ratified the treaty. Bangladesh showed little interest in the Ottawa Process, did not endorse the pro-treaty Brussels Declaration in June 1997, and came to the Oslo negotiations and the signing ceremonies in Ottawa in December only as an observer. Thus, it came as a surprise to many when Bangladesh signed five months later. It had, however, indicated support for the ban treaty by voting for the 1997 UN General Assembly resolution backing the treaty. Some observers believe that Bangladesh is unlikely to ratify soon, and may not do so until its neighbors sign.[1]

In early 1998 Bangladesh undertook an in depth examination of the utility of antipersonnel mines. Many in the Bangladesh Army were against signing the Treaty, believing that in a country bereft of natural obstacles, mines could provide an effective defensive barrier system. But arguments in favor of signing prevailed: Bangladesh’s desire to enhance its general pro-disarmament stance globally; the hope that it might induce others in the region to sign; the desire to participate more effectively in global demining efforts. Military arguments were also presented: given porous borders, landmines were not seen as cost effective barrier systems; in the asymmetric power equation with India, landmines would have only limited relevance; suitable alternatives were available, including barbed wire, Claymore mines, increased patrolling, and options such as remote surveillance devices, drones, early warning mechanisms, electro-optic devices and others. Combining sensors and ensuring effective human interface would provide the necessary defense assurance. Ultimately, though, it had to be a political decision to overrule the military.[2]

Bangladesh has not signed the Convention on Conventional Weapons. It is a member of the Conference on Disarmament, but has not been a strong proponent or opponent of mine negotiations in that forum.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, Use

Bangladesh is not believed to have ever produced or exported antipersonnel landmines. It is thought to have a stockpile of antipersonnel mines, though the number, types, and suppliers of the mines are not known.

The Bangladesh Army is not believed to have employed antipersonnel mines, even though prior to signing the treaty, the Army insisted on the right to use antipersonnel mines.

Landmine Problem

There are uncleared mines along the Burma/Myanmar border, laid by the Burmese Army. There appear to be few incidents of mine explosions. The Bangladesh Campaign to Ban Landmines reports that ten people have died and several more been injured by mines. Animals, including elephants, have also died from mine blasts.

Mine Clearance

The Bangladesh Army has several battalions with mine clearing capabilities. They have cleared mines on international peacekeeping operations. Bangladesh soldiers cleared some 5,500 square kilometers of mined territory in Kuwait after the Gulf War and lifted over 90 tons of explosives. It also had extensive experience of demining in Cambodia under the UNTAC.


[1] Dipankar Banerjee, Co-director Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, New Delhi, “South Asian Regional Survey,” prepared for Landmine Monitor, p. 24. Banerjee based this on observations from the South Asian Regional Landmines Workshop, held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 7-8 December 1998, attended by senior Bangladesh government officials including two serving Brigadiers.

[2] Ibid, pp. 10-12.