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MINE ACTION WORKING GROUP, Landmine Monitor Report 2001
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The ICBL Mine Action Working Group (MAWG) was formed in February 1998 to serve as the focal point for addressing issues related to mine action, with a particular focus on work in the field. The core members of the group are project implementing organizations, such as Handicap International (HI), Mines Advisory Group (MAG), Mines Clearance Planning Agency (MCPA), Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF), and medico international, as well as the German Initiative to Ban Landmines. In addition to this core, there is wider participation from a number of other organizations either involved or interested in the issue. The MAWG is a loose structure, where the main basis of communication is by email, but members of the group also meet for discussions within the context of various international mine action meetings.

MAWG’s main goal is to ensure that the realities of mine action work in the field are reflected in global mine action policies developed by the international community. It seeks to assist the State Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty to achieve the goals as outlined in the obligations of the treaty. It promotes the ICBL’s call for more resources for humanitarian mine action programs and works to ensure meaningful NGO participation in all relevant political and decision-making processes that define the parameters for mine action. Some of the recent activities undertaken by the MAWG are listed below.

Second Meeting of States Parties: The MAWG presented a written statement at the beginning of the meeting, outlining key points that the international community had to address in order to solve the crisis of landmines. These include:

  • Refine the measurement of the impact of landmines, and better prioritize areas for action based on reliable data to make mine action more effective;
  • Establish a logical link between mine action and other development activities ensuring cross-sectorial coordination to maximize positive impact;
  • Base the allocation of funds on the needs of the affected communities and improve partnership between donors and active field agencies. Mine action funding must be long-term to allow proper planning and effectiveness;
  • Acknowledge the lack of impact from expensive mine clearance research; and
  • Prioritize the establishment of sustainable indigenous mine action capacities.

The MAWG also presented the Bad Honnef framework for integrated humanitarian mine action to the plenary of the Second Meeting of State Parties. It is part of the Action Programme of the Presidency of the SMSP as relevant guidelines for humanitarian mine action to be further revised and disseminated by the MAWG.

ICBL General Meeting: During the ICBL Third General Meeting, the MAWG chair reported on the group’s recent activities. MAWG members facilitated discussions on the mine action components of the ICBL’s 2004 Action Plan, which includes an overall goal of “increased and sustained resource commitments for mine clearance.”

Intersessional Work: Members of the MAWG participated actively in the ICBL delegations to the intersessional meetings of the treaty and contributed in particular to the work of the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance and Related Technologies. MAWG members worked closely with the SC’s co-chairs Netherlands and Peru on the agenda and goals of these sessions. During this SC’s meeting in December 2000 and May 2001, MAWG members made interventions on revising technical standards for mine action, crucial needs for conducive operating environment, dissemination of good practices and revision of guidelines and principles, an update on the Landmines Impact Surveys, an update on third edition of the Landmine Monitor, an update on the Compendium Document of NGO Projects, the impact of mine action standards in the field, and field perspectives on technologies for mine action.

In addition to these issues, MAWG members spoke in the SC on General Status and Operation of the Convention on the issue of retaining live mines for training or research, as permitted under Article 3, and concerns about antivehicle mines with antihandling devices.

MAWG and Issues Related to Mine Action Funding: MAWG members participated in a May 2001 meeting of the UNMAS Steering Committee on Mine Action and in a meeting of the Mine Action Support Group (MASG), an informal group of donor countries that meets regularly in New York.

In a statement at a January 2000 Intersessional Standing Committee meeting, MAWG said, "We believe that funding for Humanitarian Mine Action should be based on the needs in affected areas, and not on the Landmine Convention status. Sanctions against violators and encouragement of non-state parties must be designed in a way that does not further victimize the people and communities in mine and ordnance-affected areas..."

Survey Action Center (SAC): The Global Landmine Impact Survey by SAC is not a MAWG initiative but members of the MAWG are actively represented in the Survey Working Group, which met regularly in 2000 and 2001 to advise the SAC on policy and implementation. The MAWG continued to call for support for the Global Impact Survey, and stressed the need to put the results to use through humanitarian mine clearance and other actions.

Other activities: Members of MAWG were closely involved in the revision process of the UN standards for humanitarian mine action, and in the UNDP initiative on socio-economic analysis of the impact of mine action. MAWG also presented the Bad Honnef integrated approach for humanitarian mine action was presented to the EU conference "A day for a mine-free world," 21 September 2000, in Brussels. Additionally, the Bad Honnef Guidelines, originally drawn up in English, were translated into Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Russian.

Mine Action Environment:   Together with GICHD, MAWG has advocated for an improved environment conducive to operating mine action programs. Such needs range from customs and transfer issues to fuel, salaries and permits. As best as possible host governments are requested to facilitate the rapid and efficient set up and implementation of mine action programs.

 Coordination and integration: MAG, HI and NPA have coordinated on implementation and policy matters for many years. and have published a portfolio and compendium of activities. While the NGOs have doubts as to how useful the compendium has been for fundraising, it is a useful information and coordination tool.

Similarly the NGOs of MAWG have continued to coordinate on the ground, nationally and regionally, and believe this coordination has been beneficial for the affected populations.

Mine Action and Development: MAWG believes that mine action should be integrated with the wider concerns of social, infrastructural and economic development at all levels -- national, regional, provincial and local.  Non-governmental agencies are often the best suited to achieving these goals. MAWG and its member organizations contribute to and support the “Guidelines for Mine Action Programmes from a Development-Oriented Point of View.” MAWG will continue to foster work with governments and other donors toward the achievement of these goals.

  Mine Action Technologies: MAWG stresses the need for the support and maintenance of appropriate technologies and methodologies in the field. Various MAWG members have addressed Intersessional Standing Committee meetings and other fora on these issues, highlighting different technologies, methodologies and combinations thereof from the mine action “toolbox” that work in different environments.

Mine Awareness Subgroup: Since mid-2000, the mine awareness sub-group of MAWG focused on the following issues:

  • Preparation and participation in the two intersessional meetings of the SC on Victim Assistance, Socio-Economic Reintegration and Mine Awareness;
  • Establishment and improvement of cooperation between the ICBL and other agencies engaged in mine awareness;
  • Preparation of input to the 2004 Action Plan; and
  • Drafting a code of conduct for mine awareness practitioners.

A sub-group member, Radda Barnen, hosted a mine awareness seminar in Aden (Yemen), which enabled most mine awareness agencies to exchange information about methods of operation and work out a better system of cooperation, in particular with UN agencies.

Communication: The MAWG has established two email subscription lists to facilitate discussion on mine action, the icblmineaction@egroups.com and the mineawarenessdiscussion@egroups.com The MAWG also has a page on the ICBL website, where relevant statements and documents can be found. Sayed Aqa was chair of the MAWG during this period. The Mine Awareness subgroup was chaired by Stan Brabant of HI (Belgium).