Mine Action: Case Studies
UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), whose mandate specified in the Paris Agreement (October 1991) included monitoring the withdrawal of foreign forces, supervising the ceasefire, assisting the repatriation and resettlement of refugees, and facilitating the elections scheduled for May 1993. Mine action was placed under the military arm of UNTAC.
In the early 1990s, informal mine clearance by villagers in Cambodia began spontaneously to occur as they attempted to reclaim their land. The practice has been a highly controversial subject among mine action practitioners. Some argue that since this type of informal demining will occur regardless of the opinion of professional deminers, it would be better to give village deminers training and equipment in order to minimize risk. Others believe that such programs are not ethnical and that they would be a risk not only to the village deminers but also to villages that attempt to use the unsystematically cleared land.
For more information:
Bottomley, Ruth. "Balancing Risk: Village De-mining in Cambodia." Third World Quarterly 24, no. 5 (2003): 823-37.
Bottomley, Ruth. Spontaneous Demining Initiatives. Brussels: Handicap International-Belgium, 2001.
Moyes, Richard. Tampering: Deliberate Handling and Use of Live Ordinance in Cambodia. Oslo: MAG/Handicap International-Belgium/Norwegian Peoples Aid, 2004.
Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority
[Back to Top] Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan (MAPA) is considered one the most successful long-term mine action programs to date. The initial plan of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), Afghanistan, was to train thousands of refugees in basic demining, expecting them to clear their own communities after what was expected to be a massive repatriation following the Geneva Accords (April 1988). A unique feature of the Afghanistan program"and one that demonstrates the central role UNOCHA played in both the creation of the Afghan non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and their continued evolution"is that some NGOs were established expressly to provide services to other organizations within MAPA. These core organizations within MAPA operate like a business conglomerate, with plans and performance targets being set or endorsed by the center but with each of the units having a good deal of autonomy in its day-to-day operations and core business functions.
For more information:
Harris, Geoff. "The Economics of Landmine Clearance in Afghanistan." Disasters 26, no. 1 (2002): 49-54.
King, Colin. "The Demining Toolkit." In Mine Action: Lessons and Challenges. Geneva: Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining, November 2005.
United Nations Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan. Socio-Economic Impact Study of Landmines and Mine Action Operations in Afghanistan. Islamabad: United Nations Mine Clearance Planning Agency, 1999.
UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
Afghanistans New Beginnings Programme
[Back to Top] UN Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ) had a peacebuilding mandate, but, based on problems experienced in such situations in the past, its operational concept was based on a strong interrelationship among political, military, electoral, and humanitarian components. The UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA) initiated early efforts to obtain information on the nature and extent of landmine contamination in Mozambique, and a preliminary plan was developed by January 1993, within three months of the start of the ONUMOZ mandate. The plan proposed the training of demobilized soldiers to develop indigenous capacity, but it centered on the short-term needs of the ONUMOZ, particularly the opening of the major transportation corridors using commercial contractors.
The government finally established the National Mine Clearance Commission in May 1995, but the commission had virtually no capacity and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) did not get a project in place to provide technical assistance until the passage of another year. This project saw 85 percent of funds going to expatriate salaries and lacked a counterpart strategy, with the result that little indigenous capacity building took place. The end result of this lengthy process was that DHA spent millions of dollars on its demining program without clearing the majority of mines in the country, which were mainly in rural areas, along dirt paths and in fields, and not on designated priority roads.
For more information:
Human Rights Watch Africa. Landmines in Mozambique. Washington, DC: Human Rights Watch, 1994.
Alden, Chris. "Swords into Ploughshares? The United Nations and Demilitarisation in Mozambique." International Peacekeeping 2, no. 2 (1995): 175-93. (slightly different version)
Alden, Chris. "The UN and the Resolution of Conflict in Mozambique." Journal of Modern African Studies 33, no.1 (1995): 103-28.
National Demining Institute of Mozambique
[Back to Top] Dayton Peace Accords, considerable effort was put into building civil society in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) as a way of promoting democratic stability. Civil society remains divided and weak, however. Civic groups have depended heavily on international funding, which was granted as part of a broader effort aimed at strengthening non-nationalist alternatives to the dominant political parties. Civic groups and indigenous NGOs became contractors for the provision of services commissioned by foreign donors.
Despite the relative weakness of Bosnian civil society, a number of developments have served to strengthen capacity from the perspective of mine action. Both the entity armies and civil protection teams have been engaged in mine clearance, and several BiH companies produce mine clearance equipment. In February 2002, a new demining law was adopted. A state-level Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Center (BHMAC) structure and a national annual demining plan, to be closely monitored by the Council of Ministers through the Demining Commission, were created. Eight regional offices carry out the BHMAC work in the cantons. While mine action appears only moderately rooted in civil society, there has been a gradual integration of mine action into Bosnian national institutions, and ownership is relatively strong within governmental structures.
For more information:
Kjellman, Kjell Erling, Kristian Berg Harpviken, Ananda S. Millard, and Arne Strand. "Acting as One? Co-ordinating Responses to the Landmine Problem." Third World Quarterly 24, no. 5 (2003): 855-971.
Kjellman, Kjell Erling, and Kristian Berg Harpviken. "Meeting the Challenge: National Ownership in Mine Action." International Peace Research Institute (PRIO) Policy Brief. Oslo: PRIO, Assistance to Mine-Affected Communities (AMAC), 2006.
Bosnia and Herzegovina Mine Action Center
Norwegian Peoples Aid Mine Action Program in Bosnia and Herzegovina
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After the ceasefire agreement was signed between Hezbollah and Israel, the Swedish Rescue Services Agency (SRSA) was one of the first organizations on the site to provide assistance. To its surprise, many women showed interest in being hired and trained as deminers in the field. The female Lebanese deminers were recruited and trained in January 2007 and constituted an all-female team"the first of its kind in the Middle East. Shortly after, DanChurchAid, another NGO working on mine action, also trained and deployed female battle-area clearance deminers to the same region. The success of the female demining teams in southern Lebanon garnered widespread media attention. Yet, for many women, becoming a deminer is not so much a choice as it is a necessity. If they cannot find suitable employment and are the sole providers for their families, many women turn to these demining training programs as a last resort. Moreover, they experience the added pressure of defying traditional gender roles. Some have dropped out of training because of family pressure about the dangers of the task, while a few do not tell their families what they do for work. There have been a few injuries among the demining teams, and the downside is that the recovery period for a female injured in the field is much slower. In addition, the social ramifications for a female amputee or handicapped person are different from those for a male"her position in society becomes much lower.
For more information:
DanChurchAid. "Women in the Frontline for Clearing Cluster Bombs." September 14, 2007.
Mills, Marie. "Getting a Piece of the Pie: Lebanese Women Become Deminers." Journal of Mine Action 11, no. 2 (1997).
Swiss Campaign to Ban Landmines. Gender and Landmines: From Concept to Practice. Geneva: Swiss Campaign to Ban Landmines, 2008.
Lebanon Mine Action Center
Mine Action Coordination Centre South Lebanon
Norwegian Peoples Aid Mine Action Program in Lebanon
Mines Advisory Group Lebanon