Landmine Monitor 2000

Humanitarian Mine Action

The concept of Humanitarian Mine Action was developed as a response to the growing concern about the impact of landmines on people and communities. Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) seeks to minimize the impact of landmines as a threat to life and limb, and as an impediment to the progress of post-conflict reconstruction and social and economic development. Today, HMA encompasses a wide range of activities: surveys and assessments, the marking, mapping and clearing of mines, mine awareness activities, victim assistance, capacity and competence building, coordination, planning, and quality assurance. The information presented here is based upon data collected by Landmine Monitor researchers for Landmine Monitor Report 2000, various UN documents, reports, and information from various mine action agencies, media reports, and on the findings from Landmine Monitor Report 1999.

Landmine Problem

A total of eighty-eight states are affected to various degrees by mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). Of the mine-affected countries, thirty-three are states parties to the Mine Ban Treaty and an additional eighteen are signatories. In addition, Landmine Monitor has conducted research on eleven areas which are not internationally recognized states, but which are mine and UXO-affected: Abkhazia, Chechnya, Falklands/Malvinas, Golan Heights, Iraqi Kurdistan, Kosovo, Nagorny-Karabakh, Palestine, Somaliland, Taiwan, and Western Sahara.[13]


Costa Rica
Burma (Myanmar)
Congo (Brazzaville)
Democratic Republic of Congo
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of
Korea, Republic of
Czech Republic
Sri Lanka
Golan Heights
Northern Iraq
Sierra Leone
Western Sahara

Survey and Assessment

HMA programs set about reducing, and ultimately removing, the threat of landmines and UXO through a series of phased activities. In order to implement efficient responses to the landmine problem, assessment and survey work is required in order to generate good baseline data. Without good data it is difficult to allocate resources properly, set priorities and measure progress. So far, reliable and comparable data on the landmine problem has been scarce, both concerning the actual location of mines and minefields and concerning the social and economic impact of landmines and UXOs on countries and communities.

In many mine-affected countries, militaries claim to have all the information needed to begin mine action activities. Over a decade of field experience in a variety of mine-affected areas has taught mine action agencies that this is seldom the case. Even in relatively peaceful situations the information available to the military often does not represent the complete picture of the mine situation. Nor does the information available about the location of minefields provide much insight into the impact on affected communities. In order to address the mine problem in a rational manner, and to be able to allocate resources, it is necessary to address the impact of the mines in relation to the affected communities, rather than limit the assessment to the geographical location of the minefields.

According to Landmine Monitor research, between 1997 and 2000, regional or national assessments and surveys have taken place or are underway in twenty-four mine-affected countries and areas. These range from comprehensive impact surveys, to UN assesment missions, to single agency studies. There are concrete plans for surveys in nine additional countries and areas in the near future.

The principal tool for making this assessment is a Level One Impact Survey. This survey provides an assessment of the amount and general location of mines, as well as the impact on the population and other areas affected by the mines. Different international bodies are now conducting assessment missions and surveys in several countries, building on national operations and the knowledge base made available by the military in the different countries.

In Yemen, the first Level One Impact Survey is due to be completed by July 2000. Similar Level One Impact Surveys are either underway or planned in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Kosovo, Lebanon, Mozambique, Somaliland, Thailand, and Western Sahara. The operations are conducted by different organizations, mostly NGOs, and in some cases based on surveys already conducted in the country.

UNMAS has conducted assessment missions in 1999 and 2000 in the following countries: Jordan, Lebanon, Ecuador, Egypt, Namibia, Peru, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. A mission to Belarus is to be conducted in 2000. Additionally, surveys have been undertaken by various national or entity level institutions in such places as Abkhazia, Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Croatia, Kuwait, and Vietnam.

Mine Clearance

Mine clearance operations can be divided into military and humanitarian. Military clearance is mainly for tactical purposes such as clearing access roads and breaching enemy minefields. Humanitarian mine clearance is clearance of mine and UXO infested areas for civilian purposes, and is regulated by a set of standards developed by the UN and the mine action community in 1995. Central to humanitarian mine clearance is the complete removal of all dangerous objects from a given area, including antipersonnel and antivehicle mines and UXO.

The UN standards regulate both the end effect, as well as the methods for operations, including safety measures for the deminers. Humanitarian mine clearance as defined by the UN can be, and is, implemented by commercial companies, humanitarian NGOs, local authorities, military agencies and personnel, and other actors. The NGOs involved in mine clearance usually also have aims that go beyond the clearance of mines; for example the opening up of affected areas for productive use by marginalized groups. A comprehensive framework for this kind of humanitarian mine action was formulated in the NGO Bad Honnef guidelines.

Humanitarian Mine Action can be divided into different categories by implementing agency: mine action conducted by the army/ministry of defense; mine action conducted by an NGO; and mine action funded by/conducted through a UN organ. In each country it is possible that a mixture of these categories is operational, with various funding sources and implementing agencies.

Most mine-affected countries have a capacity for clearing mines and UXO, for example by deploying military forces or special police. However, clearing large areas to the humanitarian standards established by the international community[14] demands efforts of a different character.

Mine clearance in some form is taking place in sixty-five mine-affected countries or areas. There are Humanitarian Mine Action programs in forty-six countries or areas: Abkhazia, Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraqi Kurdistan, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Moldova, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Peru, Russia, Rwanda, Somalia, Somaliland, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Uganda, Vietnam, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

There is smaller scale mine and UXO clearance—spot, on demand, or limited military clearance—in nineteen more countries and areas: Armenia, Belarus, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Estonia, Georgia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Oman, Philippines, South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine, Western Sahara, and Yugoslavia.

According to the information made available to Landmine Monitor researchers, in 1999 seven of the largest humanitarian mine/UXO clearance programs cleared a combined total of 168.41 square kilometers of land.[15]

  • Afghanistan, 110 square kilometers cleared in 1999. Between 1993-1999, 465 square kilometers were cleared.
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina, 3.7 square kilometers cleared in 1999.
  • Cambodia, 11.9 square kilometers cleared in 1999. Between 1993-99, 155 square kilometers were cleared.
  • Croatia, 23.59 square kilometers was cleared in 1999.
  • Kosovo, 8 square kilometers were cleared in 1999.
  • Laos, 6.22 square kilometers cleared in 1999.
  • Mozambique, 5 square kilometers were cleared in 1999 bringing the country total to 194 square kilometers.

Coordination of Mine Action

The lack of coordination of mine action efforts is a problem in many areas. Mine action coordination, either by a designated body or by existing planning and coordination structures, is necessary to ensure that resources are spent according to needs and priorities, as well to ensure quality assurance, necessary accreditation of operators, and to avoid duplication of efforts. A competent and strong mine action coordination mechanism is of particular value in situations where donors and operators converge in large numbers.

The absence of coordinating bodies increases affected states' dependence on donors and foreign operators and this also affects the setting of mine action priorities. Similarly, only a minority of the mine-affected countries is reported to have included mine action in the overall planning and priority setting for social and economic development.

Landmine Monitor has identified coordination structures in nineteen mine-affected countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Croatia, Egypt, Eritrea, Georgia, Guatemala, Jordan, Laos, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Sudan, Thailand, and Yemen, as well as in Abkhazia, Kosovo, and Iraqi Kurdistan. In the rest of the mine-affected countries and areas, mine action is mainly the domain of the military structures.

Planning of Mine Action

A national plan for removing landmines helps to ensure that priority areas most needed by the population are cleared. A national plan also helps to establish a measure against which to assess the social and economic impact of mine clearance. In this sense, planning is in part dependent on the survey and assessment activity conducted in an affected country. However, few countries have national plans with clearly delineated priorities.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, the EMAC is responsible for making sure that areas are clear. EMAC also develops Annual Workplans in which the priorities and tasks for demining are addressed. In Abkhazia the HALO Trust and AMAC set the priorities for mine action (e.g. to ensure a return of refugees/IDPs, to demine agricultural land, and to demine infrastructure such as schools and bridges). The Albanian Mine Action Executive (AMAE) is responsible for the implementation of the AMAC policy. In Croatia the government has a Plan for the Demining of Croatian State (priorities therein include the repatriation of refugees, and reconstruction of residential and public areas). The Kosovo Mine Action Coordination Center (KMACC) is responsible for the planning of mine action and has divided this into three phases: the preliminary, the emergency, and the consolidation phase.

Rwanda has established the National Demining Organization (NDO), responsible for implementation of the plans decided by the government and the Mine Action Center. In Eritrea the Humanitarian Demining Program (HMP) has put out priorities for demining. These priorities are resettlement for refugees; transportation infrastructure; and use of land resources by the general population. In Vietnam there has been some discussion by the government concerning a national mine and UXO clearance plan. In Egypt the Army defines the priorities, as is the case throughout the Middle East—when priorities exist at all. In Kuwait, the Ministry of Defense set the national demining plan in 1991, and this plan still determines priorities.

Reconstruction and Development of Cleared Land

In many areas, mine action programs are freeing up a scarce resource, safe land. It is vital to ensure that cleared land is being put to good use by those entitled to it. Ownership of and entitlement to land in post-conflict areas is a general problem, and to ensure that poor or marginalized groups are not denied the cleared land they are entitled to, it is vital to have proper procedures in place. Although little systematic information is collected on this important aspect of mine action, this year’s Landmine Monitor research indicates that both operators and coordinating agencies have not made this issue enough of a priority.

Once demining operations have been completed, the next step is to ensure that the land is transferred to those entitled to it. This is directly related to the national plan and the priority setting in the countries, and will play a key part in any measure of the socio-economic impact of the demining operations. In order for the communities to benefit from the operations, and to make sure that the cleared land is being used, it is often necessary to carry out studies after the operations are finished. For example, in Cambodia the HALO Trust conducted a study between 1993 and 1999.

In Yemen in December 1999, after the first group of deminers in the country completed a clearance operation, an area was delivered to local villagers. In Zimbabwe a 220 square meter field was handed over to the local town council, while a 359 square meter minefield was cleared by a private company and handed over to the Ministry of Defense. In accordance with Guatemala’s National Plan for Demining, cleared land was handed over to a community for the first time in January 2000. CMAC (Cambodia) conducted a socio-economic assessment in 1999 of some 9,977,573 square meters of cleared land. The study indicated that 12% of the land was used for settlement, 50% for agriculture, 2.7% for roads, 22% for other and that 14% remained contentious.

In Norway, a research project called Assistance to Mine-Affected Communities (AMAC) has explored the impacts of landmines and of HMA. The project is based at the International Peace Research Institute (PRIO), Oslo, and has been conducting studies in Afghanistan, Angola and Mozambique. Through conducting case studies of communities hosting HMA operations, the AMAC project has found that agencies tend to focus mainly on the technical aspects of their work, while paying insufficient attention to the needs and capacities of affected populations. Whereas this applies to all aspects of HMA operations, one example taken from AMAC’s research is that it often takes years for cleared land to be taken into use, because agencies have failed to see that building confidence requires enduring interaction with the local population. The AMAC project is gradually moving from researching impact issues and organizational approaches to HMA, toward offering capacity-building for agency staff and for representatives from mine affected communities. AMAC’s main funder has been the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Research and Development

In Austria, the Schiebel Austria Company produces mine detectors and related equipment. Currently it is concentrating on developing the CAMCOPTER, an unmanned, remote controlled mini-plane that can detect mines from the air. Belgium has engaged in numerous initiatives in the development of mine detection and clearance technologies, including protection equipment, detection by physical methods, satellite minefield mapping, ground-penetrating radar, electronic- and animal-assisted detection, and processes for the destruction of devices containing explosives or harmful residues such as chemical munitions. It allocated $1.4 million for R&D in 1999.

In the Netherlands, the International Institute for Aerospace Survey and Earth Science (ITC) in 1999 presented an airborne remote sensing minefield detection system that was tested in Mozambique. This system is a result of a joint international project, involving Luxembourg, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Norway and the Netherlands, and it is financed by the European Commission, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Portugal, and ITC.

Germany has allocated around $5.13 million to test field projects in Mozambique, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Cambodia. Sweden has supported tests of Swedish mechanical mine clearance equipment in Croatia. In Bosnia and Herzegovina there have been several foreign-made products that have been tested. Norwegian People’s Aid has been working with Development Technology Workshop on development of different mechanical mine clearance equipment. In Lithuania since 1994 intensive development has been underway of systems capable of locating and identifying underground objects.

The U.S. Department of Defense has a Humanitarian Demining Research and Development program which researches, tests, and modifies existing technology and equipment. R&D in the U.S. accounts for about 22% of the total HMA funding (some $64 milllion to date, including $18 million in 1999). In Canada, the total budget for research and development in FY 1999-2001 is US$1.7 million, which goes to the Canadian Center for Mine Action Technologies (CCMAT); perhaps the most significant contribution to date is the development of "surrogate" mines for use in the test and evaluation of equipment.

The Australian Defense Science and Technology Organization (funded by the government) will spend US$2,426,000 over the next five years on mine detection and neutralization. The research program for 1999-2000 is examining, among other things, deminers' needs, the current tools and methods for demining, evaluation of new tools, and development of techniques for more accurately estimating of the costs of mine clearance. The South African company Mechem has been involved in the mine issue for more than twenty-eight years. In March 1999, the U.S. Defense Department awarded Mechem a $494,000 contract to field-test a mine sniffing electronic dog’s nose. South Africa is also doing research on a multi-sensor mine-detecting suite consisting of ground penetrating radar, infrared and metal detector sensors.

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[13] In most places with a mine problem, there is also a problem with UXO. For convenience sake, the term mine-affected will often be used to include both mines and UXO.
[14] The recognized standard is that a defined area can be considered cleared if it can be put to use by civilians without exposing them to danger. UN Standards for Humanitarian Mine Clearance are under revision in 2000, to be completed 2000-2001.
[15] Comprehensive information on areas cleared in 1999 was not available for clearance programs in other nations.