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Mine Action Working Group, Landmine Monitor Report 2003

Mine Action Working Group

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 particular focus on work in the field. The core members of the group are project-implementing organizations, such as Handicap International France, Handicap International Belgium, Mines Advisory Group, Mine Clearance Planning Agency, Norwegian People’s Aid, the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, and others. In addition, there is wider participation from a number of the other organizations either involved or interested in the issue. Norwegian People’s Aid has chaired the MAWG since September 2001 and in May 2003, an Afghan mine action NGO, the Mine Detection Dog Center (MDC) became co-chair of the group.

The MAWG discusses and brings forward mutual standpoints and issues of concern. It mainly communicates by email and in the margins of other relevant forums and meetings. The MAWG’s main goal is to ensure that the realities of mine action work in the field are reflected in the global mine action policies developed by the international community. It seeks to assist State Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty to achieve the goals outlined in the obligations of the treaty. The MAWG promotes the ICBL’s call for more resources for humanitarian mine action and works to ensure meaningful NGO participation in all relevant political and decision-making processes that define the parameters for mine action. Recent issues brought forward by the MAWG for national and international humanitarian mine action organizations and operators are listed below.

MAWG members continued to work closely with the Standing Committees co-chairs, Belgium and Kenya, and co-rapporteurs Cambodia and Japan, suggesting agenda items of particular concern and interest for the successful implementation of the Convention, particularly in matters pertaining to Article 5 of the Mine Ban Treaty. The MAWG’S “Global overview of Mine Action and Outlook for the Future,” is now a repeated agenda item at each intersessional meeting. Presentations are developed by and among MAWG members in close communication with the co-chairs. The presentations focus on the need for: 1) realistic and appropriate funding to mine action; 2) more and appropriate information for decision-making, priority setting and tasking in humanitarian mine clearance operations; and, 3) national strategic mine action plans.

During the reporting period several concerns raised by the MAWG have been addressed. New standardized reporting formats have been developed and introduced by the UN, with the input from a number of mine action operators. An increased focus on the funding situation with more appropriate and realistic reference to the mine problem has been established. A larger number of mine-affected states are now constructively reporting on their mine problems and suggesting solutions to it in the form of national strategic mine action plans. There has been an increase in needs-oriented tasking and priority setting of mine clearance both among operators and mine-affected state authorities. MAWG also contributed expertise and relevant field information to the landmine detection and destruction research and development community, in the mutual attempt to shorten the distance between technology development and the end user.

Members of the MAWG delivered statements to the States Parties during the intersessional Standing Committee meetings in February and May 2003, as well as at the Fourth Meeting of State Parties in September 2002. Statements can be found on the ICBL webpage: www.icbl.org/wg/ma For any information please contact the co-chair, Sara Sekkenes, Norwegian People's Aid, email: sa@npaid.org

Mine Risk Education Sub-Group

The ICBL’s Mine Risk Education Sub-Group (formerly Mine Awareness Sub-Group) was created during a meeting of the ICBL Mine Action Working Group (MAWG) in September 1999. The Sub-Group operates within the framework of the MAWG, reflecting the understanding of its members that MRE be viewed as an integral component of mine action. Members of the Sub-Group include representatives from the following organizations: Handicap International Belgium, Handicap International France, Intersos, Landmines Resource Center (Lebanon), Mines Advisory Group, Nonviolence International-SE Asia, Norwegian People’s Aid, Pakistan Campaign to Ban Landmines, Rädda Barnen (Save the Children Sweden), Syrian Campaign to Ban Landmines, Thai Campaign to Ban Landmines, Ugandan Campaign to Ban Landmines and the Ethiopian Rehabilitation and Development Organization (RaDO). Handicap International Belgium has chaired the Sub-Group since 2001 and in March 2003, the Sub-Group appointed the Landmines Resource Center as co-chair.

The Sub-Group’s main objective is to serve as a resource on MRE issues for the ICBL and others. As part of the ICBL 2004 Action Plan, the ICBL General Meeting adopted the following MRE goals in March 2001: advocate, monitor and provide guidance to the international community as to where/what/how mine risk education is needed; advocate for and maintain a higher profile of mine risk education in Standing Committees, Meetings of States Parties and the Mine Action community; advocate and encourage development of more programs and improved sustainability of programs; and promote improvements in the quality of mine risk education programs.

The Sub-Group delivered statements to Fourth Meeting of States Parties in September 2002, as well as to the February and May 2003 intersessional Standing Committee meetings. These are available on the Sub-Group’s webpage at www.icbl.org/wg/mre

The Sub-Group co-organized two meetings together with UNICEF for all mine risk education operators (MRE Working Group) on 19 September 2002 and from 13-14 March 2003, both times in Geneva.

The Sub-Group has two email groups to facilitate discussion on mine risk education, one for members of the Sub-Group and another for the group and all mine risk education practitioners. For any information please contact one of the co-chairs, Habouba Aoun, Landmine Resource Center, email: habbouba.aoun@balamand.edu.lb or Stan Brabant, Handicap International Belgium, email: stan.brabant@handicap.be