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Country Reports
GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM, Landmine Monitor Report 1999

Government of the United Kingdom

Humanitarian Mine Action

ProgressReport

UK Department of International Development

Introduction

The Secretary of State for International Development signed the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, on behalf of the UK, in Ottawa on 3 December 1997. At the same time, she approved a new Humanitarian Mine Action Strategy enhancing DFID assistance for reducing the social and economic impact of landmines and other unexploded ordnance on developing countries. Implementation of this Strategy also contributes to a major component of DFID’s wider conflict reduction policy concerned with reducing the means for waging war.

To pursue this Strategy, DFID plans to double annual bilateral expenditure from just under £5 million in 1997/98 to £10 million in 2000/01 in support of the following four objectives:

  • to promote the globalisation of the ban on anti-personnel landmines (APLs), and to help developing countries to implement their obligations under the Ottawa Convention;
  • to undertake effective programmes of humanitarian mine action in poor countries, strengthening and expanding indigenous capacity where possible;
  • to strengthen the international community’s capacity - and particularly that of international organisations - to provide a more coherent, timely and cost-effective response to the global challenge of landmines;
  • to encourage technological innovation to meet humanitarian mine action needs, thus improving safety, effectiveness and efficiency.

To promote the globalisation of the ban on anti-personnel landmines (APLs), and to help developing countries to implement their obligations under the Ottawa Convention;

Policy

The British Government seeks the widest possible permanent ban on APLs. This is pursued in diplomatic fora such as the Conference on Disarmament and the Review Conferences on the UN Weaponry Convention. In addition, we recognise that the Ottawa Convention demands actions which require fairly sophisticated technical capacity and have significant associated costs. The Convention also asks signatory states to assist each other. Accordingly, DFID is keen to help poor countries to ratify the Convention and implement its terms.

Progress

The UK Parliament ratified the Ottawa Convention on 31 July 1998, as

the 29th country to do so.

DFID is supporting civil society actions to evaluate the implementation by

the international community of the Ottawa Convention.

Future plans

DFID is willing to assist poor countries to:

ratify the Convention and implement the APL ban through providing technical assistance, for example, to develop national legislation or to create appropriate national institutional capacity;

undertake immediate implementation of requirements under the Convention, such as stockpile destruction.

We have contacted Governments in the affected countries to identify outstanding areas of need to improve targeting of DFID assistance. To discourage countries from staying outside the ban, support is also available for national and international campaign groups working to widen and implement the APL ban.

To undertake effective programmes of humanitarian mine action in poor countries, strengthening and expanding indigenous capacity where possible;

Policy

DFID aims to meet urgent humanitarian needs by reducing deaths and injuries and re-establishing productive livelihoods lost through mines pollution. It further aims, where possible, to support the development of national and local capacity to enable affected countries and communities to take on ownership of programmes and become better equipped to tackle the problem themselves. These general goals are pursued through individual country-level projects advancing specific objectives that depend on available opportunities and prevailing circumstances. Relevant factors include political will, the institutional framework, the level of conflict and insecurity, the urgency of humanitarian need, the social and economic case for investment in demining, and the feasibility of proposed interventions.

DFID-supported demining programmes seek to develop and make optimal use of local human and physical resources. Conversely, DFID does not support government programmes in countries that are unwilling to sign up to the Ottawa Convention and continue to use APLs; in these countries DFID support is limited to humanitarian mine clearance in designated areas to reduce the immediate threat of loss of life or injury, provided that the laying of new mines (‘remining’) is not taking place locally at the same time.

Progress

DFID support for humanitarian mine action in poor countries has concentrated on humanitarian mine clearance but has also included other aspects such as mines awareness and capacity building. Over the past year, we have supported programmes in a number of countries:

Afghanistan: £2 million has been provided to the United Nations demining programme for nation-wide use. An additional £500,000 was provided to HALO Trust to undertake demining in Kabul and the Shomali Valley using manual and mechanical techniques. Good progress was made, but expatriates had to be withdrawn in August 98 because of increased insecurity and Taliban-imposed constraints on assistance operations; local staff continue programmes as best they can. DFID will review the programme when the security situation permits.

Cambodia: £1.632 million has been provided through HALO Trust and the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) for demining and mine awareness in the north-west to reduce the risk to rural communities and facilitate the resettlement of returnees. Following a review in May 1998, the programme will be gradually refocused.

Georgia: £100,000 has been provided to HALO Trust to start clearance of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and to develop national capacity in Abkhazia. A review planned for early 1999 will consider extending the project.

Iraq: £740,000 has been provided through MAG for ongoing integrated demining/community awareness projects in both Kurdish sectors in northern Iraq. A review is planned for March 1999 subject to the security situation.

Laos: £530,000 has been provided to MAG and UXO Lao (which manages the national clearance programme) to support unexploded ordnance clearance linked to community-based rural development. The extension of activities is subject to planned technical trials and assessment.

Mozambique: £362,500 has been provided for HALO Trust‘s ongoing demining project in Zambezia province to make it safe from landmines and UXO for economic and social activities. A review in August 1998 recommended continued support until early 2001 (subject to confirmation).

Reviews were also undertaken in countries where there has been previous UK bilateral funding :

Angola: Funding under the bilateral programme ceased in 1996 as other donors came forward to support projects. A review in June 1998 identified potential approaches but detailed considerations are on hold following increased insecurity.

Bosnia: Projects were completed in 1997. Needs were reviewed in 1998 and the potential for joint funding with other major donors considered. Negotiations are continuing. Some assistance with mechanical inputs to speed up clearance has been given and other assistance is being considered.

Future plans

DFID support will continue to be available for programmes in poor countries which will result in the following benefits:

  • reduced civilian vulnerability through raising community awareness;
  • reduced civilian casualties through the mapping and demarcation of mine fields and mines clearance;
  • safer access to social facilities such as health centres and schools; for enabling the provision of humanitarian assistance; and for enabling displaced populations to return home or re-settle in safe areas;
  • re-established or expanded productivity, for example through clearing transport and communication routes and agricultural land, especially where poor farmers and traders will benefit;
  • increased indigenous humanitarian mine action capacity, for example, through encouraging governments to accept ownership of national demining programmes, building institutional capacity for policy, planning and programme management, and training de-miners and associated administrative staff;
  • better and more widely applied standards of safety and performance compatible with UN guidelines (the current specification for cleared land is 99.6% clearance);
  • the promotion of public-private sector partnerships to enhance investment in mines clearance;
  • support, where appropriate in the absence of a recognised national government, for the UN as the co-ordinator of national demining actions.

As well as developing the effectivness of existing programmes, we are considering opportunities for contributing to humanitarian mine action in countries where we have not so far been active, provided conditions permit and the likely benefits make such an extension worthwhile. Currently prospects are being explored in seven new countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Central America but there are significant security and institutional constraints in many of them.

To strengthen the international community’s capacity - and particularly that of international organisations - to provide a more coherent, timely and cost-effective response to the global challenge of landmines;

Policy

The UK supports the UN’s lead role in co-ordinating humanitarian mine action policy and seeks to strengthen its capacity to function more effectively in this area. We encourage the development of common frameworks and standards to address mines issues, and urge all contributors to work towards a shared common approach in order to optimise the impact and efficiency of available resources. We also seek to influence international policy so that it is focused on appropriate programmes which will benefit poor mines-affected countries.

Progress

DFID has funded a study for UNMAS to provide strategic advice and assist it to function as the global focus for international demining activities. A useful start has been made and UNMAS has undertaken country surveys which seek to provide a more authoritative baseline for mine-polluted countries, consequent hazards in land use, and prioritisation of clearance tasks to be undertaken.

During the UK’s Presidency of the European Union in the first half of 1998, we sought to co-ordinate the position of member states; worked on more targeted discussions on EU mine action within the EU Working Group on Disarmament and Security (CODUN); and urged greater transparency and accountability of EC activities and the implementation of the EU Joint Mine Action Programme.

Future Plans

We shall continue to work with multilateral agencies, other donors and affected countries to promote the effective sharing and use of available resources for humanitarian mine action, to establish and promulgate standards for applicable technology, and to provide support for countries which wish to accede to the Ottawa Convention.

To encourage technological innovation to meet humanitarian mine action needs, thus improving safety, effectiveness and efficiency.

Policy

DFID aims to support initiatives which adapt existing technologies - including of military origin - to the specific needs of civilian mine clearance, so that the latter becomes safer, speedier, and more affordable from the perspective of developing countries.

We support the internationally agreed intention to create a “toolbox of techniques” so as to allow the most appropriate methods and machinery to be selected for each situation.

Progress

Through UNMAS we have contributed to the establishment of standards and measures which will help improve the quality and performance of mine clearance.

DFID has funded trials of prototype equipment, with the potential to increase efficiency and safety of demining, relevant to project requirements.

Future Plans

We shall build on our present support for technological development by investing in the three stages of the development of a “toolbox of techniques”. In doing so, we shall continue to work internationally - in the UN and elsewhere - to encourage common standards for safety and efficiency of clearance. The three stages are:

identifying problems amenable to technological solutions and hence the gaps in existing techniques and technology;

appraising potentially valuable concepts and early designs, and funding their development to full prototype standard;

testing prototypes in simulated field conditions and, if successful, in real minefields.

THE FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH OFFICE

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) initially led UK government policy on humanitarian demining, particularly during the Ottawa negotiations. With the Convention coming into effect on l March, the FCO’s primary role now is to ensure that the UK meets its commitments under the Convention. This will include compiling the UK response to the Article 7 reporting requirement on its implementation of the Convention’s provisions.

The FCO co-ordinates the activities of other government departments, so that the UK presents a coherent humanitarian demining policy when dealing with the international mine action community. The FCO chairs the Government’s Inter-Departmental Working Group on Humanitarian Demining, which facilitates effective consultation and co-ordination between the three government departments responsible for humanitarian demining.

The FCO has also contributed £450,000 to UNMAS, of which £200,000 is to be used to develop a database of mine information from field activities. The remainder is for UNMAS’ public awareness programme, including equipment for conferences, a minefield simulator for exhibitions, production of a CD ROM and printing costs for “Landmines”.

THE MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has destroyed all operational stocks of land service anti-personnel mines and will have destroyed all other anti-personnel mines by the end of l999, some three years sooner than obliged to. MOD has assisted, through NATO, the destruction of stockpiles of anti-personnel mines in Albania and is investigating where other assistance could be provided.

The UK MOD possesses skills and equipment which are applicable to Humanitarian Mine Action. Both before and after the Ottawa Convention the MOD has contributed assistance to demining programmes, such as Cambodia and Afghanistan attachments to the United Nations and national Mine Action Centres. Within the UK, the MOD Mine Information and Training Centre offers a focal point for information and training and has provided mine awareness training to over 5000 military and civilian personnel. The MOD has also been able to donate surplus military equipment to NGOs which has, in certain circumstances, speeded up their demining by a factor of four. Furthermore, where applicable, information of interest to humanitarian mine clearance organisations is made available from military research into technology to locate and destroy mines.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION

DFID has set up arrangements for dialogue with agencies concerned with humanitarian actions.

For more detail on issues raised here, please contact:

Conflict & Humanitarian Affairs Department,

Department for International Development,

94 Victoria Street,

London SWlE 5JL, UK

Email: chadenquiry@dfid.gov.uk

fax: (+44) (0) 171 917 0502

phone: (+44) (0) 171 917 0273