+   *    +     +     
About Us 
The Issues 
Our Research Products 
Order Publications 
Press Room 
Resources for Monitor Researchers 
Table of Contents
Country Reports
NAGORNO-KARABAKH , Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Key developments since March 1999: In March 2000, the Nagorno-Karabakh Minister of Agriculture said that thirty percent of the territory’s most productive agricultural lands are not being used because of the danger of mines. HALO Trust, which had carried out mine clearance in Nagorno- Karabakh in 1995-96, resumed operations in January 2000.


Nagorno-Karabakh is an autonomous region of western Azerbaijan, but the majority of the inhabitants are Armenian. In 1988, the region voted to secede and join Armenia, which led to armed conflict from 1988-1994 involving forces from all three armies. In the midst of the conflict, the region proclaimed itself the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) on 2 September 1991, and declared independence on 6 January 1992. Armenian forces occupied 20% of Azerbaijan territory. The UN Security Council adopted four resolutions in 1993, calling for the withdrawal of Armenian occupying forces from Azeri territories and reiterating the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan with Nagorno-Karabakh as an integral part.[1] These resolutions have not been implemented. In May 1994 Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a cease-fire agreement; however, negotiations for a final peace agreement are still going on under the auspices of the OSCE.

Mine Ban Policy

There have been no public comments regarding landmines by officials of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Nagorno-Karabakh military has told the Landmine Monitor researcher that mines are viewed as useful weapons in numerous tactical military tasks and that as long as the war lasts, mines are necessary. The military recognizes that mines kill both enemy and friend.[2]

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, Use

Nagorno-Karabakh is not known to have produced mines. Stocks now held are of former Soviet production, but types and numbers are unknown. The most commonly used mines during the conflict were Soviet PMN-2 and OZM-72, as well as Soviet MON mines and Italian TS-50.[3] During the armed conflict, the fighting parties used antipersonnel mines extensively, in areas claimed by Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan and Armenia, though the heaviest concentration of mines by far is in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Landmine Problem

The region of Nagorno-Karabakh is considered to be one of the most heavily mined regions of the former Soviet Union. The Nagorno-Karabakh Minister of Agriculture Mr. Armo Tsaturian, said that thirty percent of the territory’s agricultural lands are not being used because of the danger of mines. He pointed out that these lands are the most productive areas in the valleys and foothills. The Minister also reported that eight hectares of vineyards are also inaccessible because of the mines.[4] Approximately 15,000 hectares of land, roads and forests must be surveyed for future mine action.[5] Nearly five thousand hectares of these territories are arable lands.

The United Nations and the U.S. had estimated the number of mines in Nagorno-Karabakh at 100,000, but after its 1998 assessment mission, the UN Mine Action Service concluded that the mine problem was not nearly as bad as original estimates portrayed.[6]

Mine Action

In 1995-96, the British demining NGO HALO Trust carried out mine clearance in Nagorno-Karabakh and cleared more than 2,000 mines and 9,000 items of UXO from 883,000 square metres of land. In addition, HALO trained local specialists. In January 2000, HALO resumed operations in Nagorno-Karabakh and aims to support the existing mine clearance capacity, provide specialist training and to establish a mines action centre to coordinate the clearance work with the needs of the development community.

In 1993, Nagorno-Karabakh created a Working Group on Mine Problems (WGMP), under the Special Governmental Commission, whose task was to collect information on the landmine problem. In 1999-2000, headed by a special representative of the Prime Minister, its activities were expanded to include coordination among the various relevant ministries dealing with the various aspects of the mine problem, including mine clearance, minefield marking and mapping, mine awareness activities, and provision of basic medical aid courses.

Ministry of Defense engineer regiments deal with mine clearance while Emergency Services Department teams are responsible for the clearance of UXO. They inform the WGMP of their activities, except when the information is classified. With HALO support, the Emergency Services Department cleared over 1,000 UXO in the first three months of 2000, compared to 37 items of UXO destroyed in the whole of 1999.

Mine Awareness

The International Committee of the Red Cross office in Stepanakert initiated mine action programs in May 1994. The programs seek to educate the public, and in particular children, about the danger of mines. ICRC cooperates with the Ministry of Education and Science, as well as with the WGMP. The ICRC and the government created a map indicating the dangerous zones in the territory, which has been distributed among the village communities. Recently the WGMP and the ICRC prepared a notebook for schoolchildren which illustrates types of mines and UXO. Some 46,000 copies of this notebook will be distributed for free among schoolchildren. The WGMP has also prepared several mine awareness videos and posters, and special radio and television programs are continuously broadcast throughout Nagorno-Karabakh.

Landmine Casualties and Victim Assistance

The Nagorno-Karabakh Ministry of Health reports that between June 1993 and May 1999 the number of victims of explosions, including mines, was 687 of whom 180 died and 507 were injured.[7] Among the victims the children are gradually outnumbering the adults.

At a session of the WGMP in June 2000, the following statistics were presented: in 1995, there were eighty-two mine incidents; in 1996, sixty-four; in 1997, there were twenty-five incidents; in 1998, sixteen; and in 1999, thirty. According to the WGMP, twenty-eight of the victims in 1999 were male. As of June 2000, there have been twelve incidents, with five deaths and seven injuries.[8]

An orthopedic hospital was established in 1994.

<KOSOVO | Middle East/North Africa>

[1] UN Security Council Resolution, S/RES/822, 30 April 1993; UN Security Council Resolution, S/RES/853, 29 July 1993; UN Security Council Resolution, S/RES/874, 14 October 1993; UN Security Council Resolution, S/RES/884, 12 November 1993.
[2] Discussions with soldiers and members of the special mine clearing regiment, including Lt.-Colonel Anatoly Galayan, Commander of the mine-clearing regiment, NKR Ministry of Defense, late 1999 and early 2000.
[3] UNMAS, “Joint Assessment Mission,” 5 November 1998, p. 8.
[4] Azat Artsakh (Karabakh newspaper), 4 April 2000.
[5] Program of the NKR Special Governmental Commission, presented at the 8 June 2000 meeting of the WGMP.
[6] UNMAS, “Joint Assessment Mission Report: Azerbaijan,” 5 November 1998.
[7] Annual report of the NKR Ministry of Health, 1999.
[8] Meeting of the Working Group on Mine Problems, 8 June 2000.