Posted by: lauraannwilson | February 16, 2015

Demystifying Mine Action

This week I have the privilege of attending the 18th International Meeting of Mine Action National Programme Directors and UN Advisers. The conference provides an opportunity for the mine action sector to meet and discuss the current status of mine action, and challenges in the field.

So what is mine action?

Demystifying mine action

Mine action refers to action taken to respond to land mines, cluster munitions, and explosive remnants of war. Mine action aims to appropriately respond to a variety of issues, including the economic, health, social, environmental impacts of mines.

The mine action sector consists of various national and international players, including the United Nations Mine Action Service, and the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining. The key players in the mine action sector play a vital role in the development of policies, programs and operational responses to mines and remnants of war. The mine sector programs and policies can be engaged at various stages of conflict, and are aimed at promoting stability and safety of people in affected areas.

The key priorities of the mine action sector are:

1. Reducing the real and perceived risks of land mines, cluster munitions and explosive remnants of war

2.  Appropriately and holistically responding to victims’ needs

3. Reducing the economic, social, health and environmental impacts of land mines, cluster munitions and explosive remnants of war

4. Advocating for the development of appropriate international legal frameworks

5.  Advocating and assisting States in stockpile reduction.

The key international instruments which provide the overarching legal framework are:

1. Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty (1997 Ottawa Convention)

– imposes a total ban on anti-personnel land mines

– parties to the Convention agree to never use, develop or produce, stockpile, or transfer anti-personnel land mines, or assist other parties in these activities

– parties also agree to destroy all stockpiles within 10 years

-parties also agree to assist other States in mine clearance and education

2. Convention on Cluster Munitions

– prohibits all use, production, stockpiling and transferring of cluster munitions

– provides a deadline for parties to clear affected areas

– obliges parties to engage in age and gender specific responses to victims

3. Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

– This Convention has 5 parts: Protocols II and V are pertinent to mine action

– Protocol II pertains to land mines and booby traps and other devices

– Protocol V pertains to Explosive Remnants of War

5. Convention on Rights of Persons With Disabilities

Australia is a significant contributor to mine action. It is committed to contributing to global efforts towards eradicating land mines, cluster munitions and explosive remnants of war. In 2008, Australia signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. In 2009, Australia also achieved its pledge to contribute $100 million (AUD) towards mine action. Australia works with the international community to work towards achieving the goals of mine action.

For further reading, please see:

1. Australian Government Mine Action Strategy for the Australian aid program 2010 – 2014 (2009)

2. Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining:

3. United Nations Mine Action Services: mine

For more information and easy access to the key international treaties, please refer to the website.

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