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MINE ACTION WORKING GROUP, Landmine Monitor Report 2005

Mine Action Working Group

The Mine Action Working Group (MAWG) is composed of approximately 17 ICBL members, plus ICBL staff. It 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 (NPA), and the Mine Detection Dog Center (MDC), an Afghan mine action NGO. In 2004, the group was co-chaired by NPA and the MDC. In 2005, the chairmanship was shifted to DanChurchAid and Landmine Action UK, with MDC.

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 in achieving their obligations under the treaty, especially with respect to the Article 5 deadline for mine-affected states to destroy all mines in mined areas, and the duty to provide international assistance for demining under Article 6.

The MAWG members continued to work closely with the co-chairs and co-rapporteurs of the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies in preparation for the intersessional meetings and the Nairobi Summit. MAWG members also communicated its messages through participation in meetings such as the Mine Action Support Group, the UNMAS Mine Action Steering Committee and the meeting of national Mine Action Program Directors organized by the UN.

An emerging priority for the group in 2005 was compliance with Article 5. MAWG members began to document, discuss, and educate States Parties about cases where Article 5 may not be properly implemented. The need to pay special attention to implementation of and compliance with Article 5 has led to the creation of an ad hoc task force responsible for elaborating ICBL positions on these issues.

Intersessional Work

MAWG co-chairs, in close communication with MAWG members, developed a general presentation for the 2004 intersessional meeting that focused on the need for: 1) realistic, sustained and appropriate funding for 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 June 2005 SC meeting, MAWG member Norwegian People’s Aid made a statement about cost effectiveness in mine action, including an emphasis on the creation of sustainable national structures and operations. MAWG co-chair Stephen Olejas of DanChurchAid was invited to act as an expert respondent during the 2005 intersessional meetings, providing the opportunity to provide an immediate reaction to States Parties’ statements. In their various interventions, MAWG members advocated for the inclusion of mine action in Poverty Reduction Strategy Plans and wider multi-sectoral development plans, as well as for streamlining and better priority-setting. They encouraged progressive and traditional surveys as part of the normal procedure of mine action, incorporated into demining. The Landmine Monitor distributed a fact sheet on Article 5 during the 2005 SC meetings.

Nairobi Summit

During preparations for the Nairobi Summit, the MAWG chairs and ICBL staff proposed language for the draft Action Plan, much of which was incorporated into the final text. At the 24 September 2004 preparation meeting for the Nairobi Summit, MAWG expressed serious concerns about implementation of Article 5 of the treaty, mainly in respect to how to ensure long-lasting, effective mine clearance. At the summit the Working Group delivered various statements commenting on the draft Action Plan, although ultimately the Conference President did not open the document for redrafting.[1]

Mine Risk Education Sub-Group (MRE-SG)

The ICBL’s Mine Risk Education Sub-Working Group (MRE-SG) 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 Lebanon Landmines Resource Center as co-chair.

The Sub-Group’s main objective is to serve as a resource on MRE issues for the ICBL, governments, and others. During 2004-2005, the Sub-Group continued to call for the development and reinforcement of MRE. It holds that MRE should be provided within existing structures, especially schools and other educational facilities. This was successfully developed in Senegal by one of the Sub-Group’s members. Landmine Monitor also recorded integration of MRE in the school curriculum in 15 countries, including eight States Parties: Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Eritrea, Estonia, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Uganda. Research for the Landmine Monitor is also starting to find indicators of MRE integration into injury surveillance and public health planning in some countries.

Landmine Monitor recorded an indication of increasing integration of MRE into broader mine action activities in 11 mine-affected States Parties (Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Croatia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Sudan and Uganda) and in three non-States Parties: Iraq, Lebanon and Sri Lanka. The definition of MRE includes community liaison, a process of support to both communities and organizations before, during and after clearance. Such integration therefore generally resulted in a better response to the requests for clearance and marking put forward by mine-affected communities.

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. At Standing Committee meetings in June 2004, 21 mine-affected States Parties mentioned MRE in their reports on mine action. During the June 2005 intersessional meetings, at least 20 states reported on MRE in their presentations (in particular Guatemala, Tajikistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen provided detailed reports on MRE). The MRE-SG distributed a Landmine Monitor fact sheet on MRE reporting during the 2005 intersessional meetings and delivered statements at the June 2004 and 2005 intersessional Standing Committee meetings as well as at the Nairobi Summit.[2]

The Sub-Group co-organized two meetings with UNICEF for mine risk education operators on 23 June 2004 in Geneva and on 1 December 2004 in Nairobi. On 23 August 2004, the ICBL's Mine Risk Education Sub-Working Group invited children aged 8-12 years to enter the drawing contest, A Mine-Free World: The Vision of Today's Children ...Through the Eyes of our Children, organized in the lead-up to the Nairobi Summit. 1,000 drawings from 17 countries and 21 organizations were sent to the Landmines Resources Centre, which chose the most expressive drawings to include in the booklet. The booklet was released at the Nairobi Summit in conjunction with an extraordinary visual display of all the original drawings in the lobby of the United Nations Conference Center.

[1] http://www.icbl.org/news/summit_update_2
[2] http://www.icbl.org/news/summit_update_2/mre_statement