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European Commission, Landmine Monitor Report 2003

European Commission

In December 2002 the EC adopted its first Strategy and Multiannual Indicative Programme for mine action during 2002-2004. The strategy is based on two Regulations approved by the Council and the European Parliament the previous year - the first one covering developing countries (1724/2001) and the second one covering other countries (1725/2001). The regulations form the legal basis for an integrated Strategy.

For the years 2002/2004 work under this programme is defined in the above document. There are two thematic priorities:

  • Actions to eliminate the APL/UXO threat to affected populations and the alleviation of its effects on them (mine clearance, mine risk education, risk reduction and destruction of landmines in stocks or dumping grounds);
  • Actions to build and reinforce local capacity and to increase mine action efficiency and effectiveness (impact surveys and associated tools).

According to the Regulations, the programme is implemented through grants. As of 2003 grants will be provided for activities selected as a rule on the basis of a call for proposals. Under certain conditions, grants can be provided to targeted projects, jointly developed and managed with specific partner organisations.

The objectives pursued by the EC instruments in 2002 remained broadly the same as in the previous year. They include:

1) Improvement of de-mining efficiency by:

  • helping mine affected countries to upgrade their demining capacity (e.g. data, skills, equipment, software etc).
  • increasing the efficiency of operations on the ground through increased use of reliable evaluation techniques, always taking into account the long term impact of operations.

2) As far as mine clearance operations are concerned:

  • Complementarity between geographic and thematic instruments of the European Commission.
  • Setting humanitarian, socio-economic and political priorities.

The Strategy clearly states that EC efforts in the fight against landmines are directly related to the goals set by the international community in the context of the Ottawa Convention. Implementation of the strategy necessitates co-operation at a number of different levels:

  • Close and extended consultations between the European Commission and the EU Member States define a stable framework for activities financed by the EU and promote co-ordination between EC mine actions and national programs implemented by the Member States.
  • EU activities take place within the framework defined by the 2001-2005 UN strategy on mine action. The European Commission works closely with the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) as well as with the core group of departments and agencies which operate within the UN system in this field (UNDP, UNOPS, UNICEF and DDA).
  • The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and its network of NGOs are an invaluable source of advice and information.
  • Bilateral co-ordination between donors and other forms of international co-operation maximise the efficiency of national efforts.

The EC response to mine problems is therefore flexible and adaptive to each country. It is essentially based on a "neutral humanitarian objective", but mine action can be a constructive element in peace building processes and in the rehabilitation of countries in post-conflict situations. These are aiming to increase the capacity of national authorities to develop mine action policies and to accede and comply with the Mine Ban Treaty.

EC assistance has followed a rising trend over the past years. In 2002 it amounted to € 42 million, a 48% increase over the previous year. EC funds were channelled to 16 countries and regions, supported research and development efforts and assisted several non-governmental organisations. Approximately 39% of the total went to Asia, 31% to Africa, 21% to Europe, 3% to Central America and 6% towards supporting horizontal activities, principally focussed on research and development. The largest aid recipients were Afghanistan (€10.4m) and Angola (€7m). EC support to the ICBL amounted to €900,000. Assistance was structured so as to achieve a balance between mine clearance and capacity building. EC strategy strongly encourages preventive action; in this respect mine risk education plays a central role.

Total EC and EU Member State assistance in 2002 added up to over €145 million.

The European Commission is in the process of updating its indicative annual programme for 2003. Although it is far too early to have a clear picture a number of priorities have emerged. The situation in Iraq is a source of serious concern. In June 2003 the Commission granted € 10m in humanitarian aid to help protect people affected by unexploded landmines and bombs in the country. These funds will be used to provide safety training, information on the location of such unexploded landmines and bombs and some minefield clearance. Programmes will be operated by international agencies operating in the region. Assistance to Afghanistan should be maintained at 2002 levels over the next two years. New efforts will be undertaken in East Asia, particularly Cambodia and Laos. Aid levels to most African countries currently supported by the EC will be increased or maintained. It is also hoped to direct substantial funds towards research and technology, particularly in areas such as stockpile destruction.

The Commission will shortly start work towards preparing the EC Mine Action Strategy and Multiannual Indicative Programme 2005-2007. During this process the Commission will draw upon the experience acquired from implementation of the current Strategy and will seek advice and feedback from all available sources. Resources specifically targeted on mine action should be deployed in the most efficient way and in combination with humanitarian assistance, geographic funds etc. As with the current strategy the EC focal point will be the Ottawa Convention. In this respect the Community looks forward to a lively debate at the upcoming Review Conference scheduled for 2004.