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Country Reports
AZERBAIJAN, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Key developments since March 1999: As of March 2000, the civilian Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action had developed a National Mine Action Plan, initiated a National Mine Database, prepared for training of deminers, and begun to purchase equipment. Training of national deminers started in March 2000 and demining operations start in July 2000.


Azerbaijan and Armenia engaged in conflict over the Nagorny-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan from 1988 to 1994. Nagorny-Karabakh is an autonomous region of western Azerbaijan, but the majority of the inhabitants are Armenian. Mines were used by all sides in the conflict. A cease-fire agreement was signed in May 1994, but negotiations for a final peace settlement are on-going under the auspices of the OSCE. Landmines and demining are reportedly on the agenda of the peace negotiations.[1] (See also reports on Armenia and Nagorny-Karabakh.)

Mine Ban Policy

Azerbaijan has not acceded to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Azerbaijan voted in favor of the 1996 pro-ban UN General Assembly resolution, but abstained on the three subsequent resolutions in support of the Mine Ban Treaty, most recently in December 1999.

In its February 2000 response to an OSCE questionnaire on landmines, the government said, “Azerbaijan believes that a total ban and elimination of antipersonnel landmines is a necessary humanitarian goal with which the world community is faced in the 21st century. However, under the conditions of the continuing occupation of 20% of Azerbaijan territories by Armenian troops and threats of renewed military operations with extensive use of land mines by the enemy on Azerbaijan territory, Azerbaijan is forced to use appropriate measures as a deterrence.... Azerbaijan cannot become a party to the Convention at this stage, since it would be unable to fulfill the obligations that result from it.”[2]

In April 1999, Vice Prime Minister Abid Sharifoff said that Azerbaijan intends to sign the Mine Ban Treaty and Amended Protocol II (1996) to the Convention on Conventional Weapons as soon as a peaceful settlement of the conflict is achieved.[3] Azerbaijan is not a signatory to the CCW or its original Protocol II on landmines. Although it is not a member of the Conference on Disarmament, Azerbaijan stated in February 2000 that it considered the CD “to be the proper forum for discussion of the question regarding anti-personnel land mines.”[4]

The government did not attend the First Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in Maputo in May 1999, nor any of the ban treaty intersessional meetings, nor the first Annual Conference of States Parties to Amended Protocol II in Geneva in December 1999. It did, however, attend the NGO-sponsored regional landmine meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia in December 1999. This participation was largely the result of the work of the Azerbaijan Campaign to Ban Landmines (ACBL) and its ongoing work to raise public awareness in support of a ban.

The ACBL organized a landmine conference in February 2000 in Baku. Government representatives took part and were pressed to demine border areas and join the Mine Ban Treaty. At that conference, Colonel Isa Sadikhov, the former deputy of the Minister of Defense, said that the experience of recent conflicts showed that mines are very efficient weapons. He stated that as long as there is a threat of renewed hostilities and Azeri territory is occupied, it would be impossible to conduct demining operations or join the treaty.[5]

Production, Transfer, and Stockpiling

Azerbaijan is not believed to be a landmine producer or exporter. When the Soviet army left Azerbaijan in 1992, it left landmines behind and this is likely the source of Azerbaijan’s stockpile of antipersonnel mines. The number and types of mines in Azerbaijan’s stockpiles are unknown.


Landmines were used by all sides throughout the Nagorny-Karabakh conflict.[6] In 1998 the United Nations indicated that mines continued to be used.[7] While Azerbaijan clearly insists on its right and need to use antipersonnel mines, Landmine Monitor is not aware of allegations of Azeri forces laying new mines in 1999 or 2000.

In April 2000, an Azerbaijan military official alleged that “Armenian sabotage and reconnaissance squads” continue to enter Azeri territory and mine roads and shepherd’s paths.[8] A border area resident also alleged this, saying that people and cattle are killed and injured on roads on which they used to walk safely.[9] However, Landmine Monitor has not found concrete corroborating evidence of such use, and Armenian officials deny such charges.[10]

Landmine Problem and Survey

The conflict resulted in twenty percent of Azerbaijan’s territory being occupied by Armenia and fifteen percent of the population becoming internally displaced.[11] UNMAS noted in June 2000, “More than five years after the cessation of hostilities, the biggest impediment to reconstruction and rehabilitation remains the problem of landmine contamination.”[12] A complete, nationwide survey has not been undertaken because of the political situation.[13] UNMAS has estimated that 19,500 square kilometers of land is mine-affected.[14] UNMAS has also stated that approximately twenty-four of the sixty-five Azerbaijan regions are believed to be contaminated, that seven Azeri regions controlled by Armenians are suspected of having mines, and that fourteen other regions “contain defensive minefields laid by the Azerbaijan Defense Forces.”[15]

According to information from the Ministry of Defense the front line of military contact covers 1,039 kilometers and much of this territory is mined. Mines can also be found in and around villages, agricultural regions, pastures, roads, bridges, schools, water sources and forest regions. The Ministry of Defense states that it marks minefields and informs the population about them. The Ministry of Defense also says that it has records and maps of all its minefields. The information is classified.

Mine Clearance and Funding

On 18 July 1998 the civilian Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action (ANAMA) was established to assume responsibility for mine clearance. As of March 2000, it had developed a National Mine Action Plan, initiated a National Mine Database, constructed several administrative buildings, selected places for training of deminers, and begun to purchase equipment.[16] It is planned to conduct 24 demining training courses for 115 individuals.[17] In 2000 it is planned to demine more than 5 million square meters of territory. Demining operations were expected to start in June 2000 in Fizulu.

British-based Mines Advisory Group (MAG) stated training of deminers in March 2000.[18] Several teams of deminers are now operational under MAG technical supervision. The deminers are employed by the local NGO Relief Azerbaijan, coordinated by ANAMA. Funding is from UNDP through contract with UNOPS.

The National Mine Action Plan delineates a four-phased approach to the mine problem. UNDP is assisting ANAMA with the first phase, the aim of which is to establish the capacity to deal with the mine problem in government-controlled territory (and secondarily to build capacity to eventually deal with the mine problem in territory currently occupied). The estimated cost for establishing the program and the first year of operation is almost $3.53 million.[19]

The breakdown of the budget includes: international training and supervision agency ($120,000), national demining NGO ($340,000), international dog support and training contractor ($550,000), national quality assurance and dog support NGO ($240,000), mine awareness ($150,000), victim assistance ($150,000), general survey (Level One) ($120,000), facility development ($200,000), and equipment and material procurement ($1,658,900).[20]

On 10 March 2000, АNАМА met with donors of the Azerbaijan Mine Action Program. It announced that $2.265 million of the $3.53 million budget had been raised. Of this sum the Azeri government contributed $600,000, UNDP $500,000, the World Bank $600,000, the Japanese government $500,000, and Canada $65,000.[21]

The ultimate beneficiaries of clearance efforts in Azerbaijan will be the 350,000 inhabitants, including refugees, IDPs living in tent camps and people who never left their place of residence in the conflict ridden and contaminated areas. These groups are among the poorest of Azerbaijan’s population and include a large percentage of women and children. The project will also provide some income generation activities for people who will be eventually involved in the mine action program.

Apparently, discussions are underway between officials of Azerbaijan and Turkey regarding an agreement to demine the border and prohibit future use on the border, similar to an agreement Turkey has made with Bulgaria.[22]

Mine Awareness

The National Mine Action Plan calls for mine awareness instruction to be given to people living next to the mined territories, as well as to refugees and IDPs. According to preliminary estimates the number of people who will be reached by the mine awareness programs will be some 110,000 individuals.[23]

Beginning in 1996, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), United Nations Development Program and HALO Trust carried out mine awareness programs in Nagorny-Karabakh. The ICRC’s mine awareness program works in cooperation with the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Education, UN agencies and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).[24] ICRC field officers have trained 5,400 schoolteachers in mine awareness, who then teach their students. Some 81,000 children have had instruction in mine awareness. In addition these teachers pass on the information to parents in the IDP camps. The ICRC program is community-based and uses locally produced materials, such as videos, leaflets, brochures, and posters. These programs were conducted throughout 1999 in refugee and IDP camps in Barda, Sabirabad and Saatli.[25]

UNICEF, in partnership with the Ministries of Education, Health, Labor and Social Welfare, the national Agency for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Areas, ANAMA, other UN agencies, the ICRC and NGOs, requested $300,000 for mine awareness in Azerbaijan between February-December 2000. The objective of the project is to “sensitize the IDPs of the danger of mines and reduce/eliminate the potential incidence of mine fatalities and injuries among children in Azerbaijan.”[26]

ACBL and Institute of Peace and Democracy, with financial support from the Landmines Project of the Open Society Institute Development Foundation, are implementing two projects for humanitarian mine action during August 1999- July 2000.

Landmine Casualties and Survivor Assistance

Based on official data provided by the government, 5,561 people injured in the Karabakh conflict have been registered in the country; of these, 78% are military and 22% civilian. Many of them are mine victims.[27] Data from the Society of the Invalids of the Karabakh conflict indicate there are more than 7,000 invalids from the conflict and that more than 70% of them are mine victims.[28]

The ICRC runs an orthopedic/prosthetic center in Baku, as does the government. Since April of 1997, Azerbaijan has had a law for the protection and rehabilitation of disabled. (For more on casualties and mine survivor assistance, see Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 768-769.)


[1] United Nations Mine Action Service, “Joint Assessment Mission Report: Azerbaijan,” 5 November 1998, p. 13.
[2] Response to Questionnaire on Anti-Personnel Landmines, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), FSC.DEL/28/00, Vienna, 2 February 2000.
[3] “Azerbaijan Mine Action Program,” a joint project of the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan and United Nations Development Program, April 1999, page 2.
[4] Response to OSCE Questionnaire, 2 February 2000.
[5] ACBL Landmine Conference, Baku, Azerbaijan, 19 February 2000.
[6] See Landmine Monitor Report 1999, pp. 762-765.
[7] United Nations Mine Action Service, “Joint Assessment Mission Report: Azerbaijan,” 5 November 1998, p. 14.
[8] Interview with Col. Isa Sadikhov, former deputy of the Minister of Defense, Azerbaijan Campaign to Ban Landmines Office, 17 April 2000.
[9] Interview with Vagif Hanbabayev Hasan, Kazakh District, Azerbaijan, 10 September 1999.
[10] Armenian Defense Minister Harutiunian has stated that since his appointment to the position in June 1999 not a single order to lay new landmines has been issued. Landmine Monitor/Armenia interview with Lt.-Gen. Vagharshak Harutiunian, Minister of Defense, Republic of Armenia, 19 April 2000.
[11] UNMAS, Portfolio of Mine-Related Projects, “Country Programs: Azerbaijan,” June 2000, p. 37, available at: http://www.un.org/Depts/dpko/mine/Portfolio.pdf.
[12] UNMAS, Portfolio of Mine-Related Projects, June 2000, p. 34.
[13] A partial Level 1 survey of 260 of the 700 square kilometers potentially mined in the Fizuli region was carried out in 1998 by BACTEC International. UNMAS, “Joint Assessment Mission Report: Azerbaijan,” p. 9
[14] UNMAS, Portfolio of Mine-Related Projects, p. 34.
[15] Ibid., p. 37.
[16] Interview with ANAMA Director Ilyas Badalov, Zerkalo, 10 March 2000; Zerkalo (newspaper), 11 March 2000, available at: http://www.zerkalo-daily.com; UNMAS, Portfolio of Mine-Related Projects, p. 35.
[17] Interview with ANAMA Director Ilyas Badalov, Zerkalo, 10 March 2000.
[18] Email from Tim Carstairs, Communications Manager, Mines Advisory Group to Landmine Monitor (Mary Wareham, Human Rights Watch), 28 July 2000.
[19] Ibid, pp. 35-36.
[20] Ibid, p. 36.
[21] Zerkalo (newspaper), 11 March 2000, available at: http://www.zerkalo-daily.com.
[22] Statement by the Turkish Delegation to the Ljubljana, Slovenia Regional Conference on Landmines, 21-22 June 2000.
[23] Interview with ANAMA Director Ilyas Badalov, Zerkalo, 10 March 2000.
[24] UNMAS, “Joint Assessment Mission Report: Azerbaijan,” p. 12.
[25] Statement of Musa Jalalov, Mine Awareness Program of International Committee of the Red Cross, delivered at the Landmine Seminar “Mine Free Caucasus,” Baku, 17 November 1999.
[26] UNMAS, Portfolio of Mine-Related Projects, p. 37.
[27] Yeni Musavat, 13-19 August 1998.
[28] Azadliq (Independent,), Baku, 12 August 1998 (in Azeri).