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Country Reports
TUNISIA, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

Tunisia signed the Mine Ban Treaty on 3 December 1997. Ratification legislation, Law No. 98-78, was passed on 27 October 1998, and published in the official journal of Tunis on 2 November 1998,[1] but Tunisia has, for unknown reasons, not yet officially deposited its instrument of ratification with the United Nations. It is unclear if Law No. 98-78 will also serve as implementation legislation.

Tunisia attended the treaty preparatory meetings and the Oslo negotiations, but only as an observer in each case, and did not endorse the pro-treaty Brussels Declaration in June 1997. Thus, many did not expect Tunisia to sign the treaty. However, Tunisia had voted for the 1996 UN General Assembly Resolution calling on states to pursue vigorously an international agreement banning antipersonnel mines, and signaled a shift in its policy when it also voted for the 1997 UNGA resolution supporting the December treaty signing. Subsequently Tunisia voted for the 1998 UNGA resolution welcoming new signatories to the treaty and urging its full implementation.

Tunisia is a state party to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons and its original Protocol II on landmines, but it has not ratified the amended Protocol II (1996).

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, and Use

Tunisia does not produce antipersonnel mines and is not known to have exported AP mines. Tunisia has reportedly imported landmines from Italy, France, Yugoslavia, and Great Britain.[2] The U.S. shipped 250 M12 antitank mines to Tunisia in 1970; it has made no shipments of antipersonnel mines.[3] Tunisia is thought to have a large stock of mines at its disposal, but details are not available. Following the Inter-Maghreb Seminar on Anti-Personnel Landmines conference in Tunis on 25-26 January 1999, the Tunisian Defense Ministry announced that it would begin destroying its stocks of mines, but it has yet to take any steps toward doing so.

There is no evidence that Tunisia has used antipersonnel mines in recent years in its ongoing conflict with Libya.

Landmine Problem

Tunisia has yet to conduct a comprehensive assessment of its landmine problem. Nonetheless the regions of Tunisia which are known to be infested with mines include areas near Kasserine, Sbitla, Sidi Bouzid and Marit in west central Tunisia. In northern Tunisia, the regions of Majz el Baz and Bount de Fez are also affected by mines.[4] Most of the mine were laid during World War II, though some have been planted more recently as well. Mines have included those of British, French and US origin. Most of the mined areas in Tunisia are barren, uninhabited places.

Mine Action

The Tunisian army claims to remove between 200 and 300 land mines annually.[5] In most cases, the military is alerted to the existence of mined areas by people living among them following landmine accidents. To date, however, no comprehensive assessment of either the extent of Tunisia’s landmine problems or the number of casualties that have occurred from mines has taken place. The Tunisian army has begun marking zones likely to contain mines buried in the ground where incidents have occurred. The army is also developing an educational program which is expected to focus on the landmine problem in northern Tunisia. The Arab Institute For Human Rights, a nongovernmental organization based in Tunis, has plans to begin training instructors for a program to educate the country’s civilian population.[6]


[1]Journal officiel de la république tunisienne, 2 de Novembre 1998.

[2]Osservatorio sul commercio delle arme, IRES, Toscana, 12 March 1997.

[3]U.S. Army Armament, Munitions and Chemical Command data, analyzed by Human Rights Watch Arms Division.

[4]UN Database, Country Report: Tunisia, at http://www.un.org/Depts/Landmine/country/tunisia.

[5]UN, Country Report: Tunisia..

[6]Tunis Declaration, adopted at “ Inter-Maghreb Seminar on Anti-Personnel Landmines,” Tunis, Tunisia 25-26 January 1999.