The six-week armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020 ended with Azerbaijan regaining control over seven districts and part of Nagorno-Karabakh (formally referred to in Azerbaijan as the Karabakh Economic Region of Azerbaijan).Following a Presidential Decree in July 2021, Azerbaijan formally uses the term “the Karabakh Economic Region of Azerbaijan”, which covers Khankendi city and Aghjabadi, Aghdam, Barda, Fuzuli, Khojali, Khojavend, Susha and Tartar regions. The area along the former Line of Contact (LoC) between Armenia and Azerbaijan is heavily mined, leading to a huge area of anti-personnel (AP) mine contamination falling under Azerbaijan’s control. A massive effort to survey and clear areas containing mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) continues, although the pace slowed markedly in 2022. The Mine Action Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan (ANAMA) reported clearance of only 3.52km2 of AP mined area in 2022, a huge drop on the previous year. Land release by the end of March 2023 is said to have covered 746km2 of area affected by mines and ERW although this accounts for only 9% of total estimated contamination. On 19 September 2023, Azerbaijan launched a 24-hour large-scale military offensive which resulted in it regaining control of the rest of Nagorno-Karabakh.“Azerbaijan halts Karabakh offensive after ceasefire deal with Armenian separatists”, BBC, 21 September 2023, at: https://bbc.in/3rCVK0e. Nagorno-Karabakh is now fully under Azerbaijan's jurisdiction and control. The leader of the de facto Nagorno-Karabakh authorities, Samvel Shahramanyan, signed a decree to dissolve all governmental institutions by 1 January 2024.“Nagorno-Karabakh’s breakaway government says it will dissolve itself”, The Guardian, 28 September 2023, at: https://bit.ly/45ozvJ7.
- Azerbaijan should accede to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) as a matter of priority.
- ANAMA should prioritise efforts to conduct evidence-based survey to better define the location and extent of the contamination and enhance planning and prioritisation of clearance.
- ANAMA should continue to capitalise on the use of the available technologies, including the Remote Aerial Minefield Survey (RAMS), to conduct more non-technical survey (NTS) and reduce the size of its suspected hazardous areas (SHAs).
- ANAMA should consider the creation of technical working groups (TWGs) to identify and share lessons learned and promote best practice in land release.
- ANAMA should continue to strive to ensure that the revised National Mine Action Standards (NMAS), known as the Azerbaijan National Mine Action Requirements (ANMAR), are formally adopted and are fully understood and routinely implemented by all entities conducting clearance.
Click here to download the "Clearing the Mines 2023" report for Azerbaijan.