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Mine Action Working Group, Landmine Monitor Report 2004

Mine Action Working Group

The ICBL Mine Action Working Group (MAWG) was formed in February 1998 to serve as the focal point for 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 DanChurchAid, Handicap International, Landmine Action UK, 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 (NPA) 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 and to ensure practitioners input to the intersessional work program and annual meetings of States Parties. 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, Cambodia and Japan, and co-rapporteurs, Algeria and Sweden, 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. Presentations were developed by and among MAWG members in close communication with the co-chairs and focused in 2003/2004 on the need for: 1) realistic, sustained 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. Forward-looking topics presented by the MAWG at the Standing Committee meetings held in June 2004 included introductory remarks on constructive and operational ways in which to move forward and improve fieldwork as it relates to the Article 5 obligations of the Mine Ban Treaty.

In 2003/2004, several concerns raised by the MAWG were addressed. An increased focus on the funding situation with more appropriate and realistic reference to the mine problem has been established and NGOs are requesting donors to engage in ensuring cost efficiency, sustainability and appropriate allocation of MA funds. A larger number of mine-affected states are reporting on their mine problems in the “4Ps” (Plans, Priorities, Problems and Progress) format introduced by the Implementation Support Unit as a response to the call for more information to be made available. 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 in Geneva during the intersessional Standing Committee meetings and preparatory meetings for the First Review Conference in February and June 2004, as well as at the Fifth Meeting of State Parties in Thailand in September 2003.

For any information please contact the co-chair, Sara Sekkenes, Norwegian People's Aid, email: sa--atsign--npaid.org or www.icbl.org/wg/ma

Mine Risk Education Sub-Group

The ICBL’s Mine Risk Education [MRE] 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. Handicap International has chaired the Sub-Group since 1999 and in March 2003, the Sub-Group appointed the Landmines Resource Center (Lebanon) 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.

Since 2002, the Sub-Group has called for the development and reinforcement of MRE, in particular in countries including Angola, Burma, Burundi, Chad, Georgia, India, Iran, Nepal and Somalia. Increased MRE has been reported in all of these countries except Somalia, but more work is needed to respond to the needs in most countries.

The Sub-Group encouraged States Parties to include MRE activities in their Article 7 reporting under Form I as well as during the intersessional meetings. In 2003 and 2004, a growing number of mine-affected States reported on MRE.

The Sub-Group has called for MRE to be based on existing structures and to be included into school systems. The Sub-Group also called for a stronger link between MRE and mine/UXO clearance in order to better respond to the needs of mine-affected communities. Finally, the Sub-Group encouraged MRE practitioners to evaluate their programs and publicize evaluation reports.

The Sub-Group delivered statements to the Fifth Meeting of States Parties in September 2003, as well as to the June 2004 intersessional Standing Committee meeting. 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 2003, in Bangkok and on 23 June 2004 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, email: stan.brabant@handicap.be.