Governments often adopt a proactive approach to removing mines and explosive remnants (ERW) during and immediately after armed conflict. Implementation usually involves a rapid survey covering large areas with clearance operations aiming for exhaustive eradication of mine and ERW contamination.
With time and progress, these operations usually
With fewer mines and other ERW to address, the high costs of proactive clearance yields decreasing marginal returns and, in absolute terms, increases in public safety. The reduced threat from remaining ERW is known as residual contamination and raises the need for the country to readjust its priorities and response policy to better reflect modern risk management.
Past experience shows that it is more appropriate to move away from proactive clearance practices and policies to responsive long-term survey and clearance mechanisms that are sustainable, proportional to the reduced threat and fitting to the intended use of the contaminated land. Adoption of such policies enables efficient resource allocation and influences perceptions of residual mines, ERW and associated risks.
The GICHD assists in developing sustainable national leadership and capacities to confront residual contamination while increasing the role and sharpening the structure of national security services in mine and ERW response.
A side event "Management of residual contamination : transition and national capacities" was held at the Third Review Conference of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention in Maputo in June 2014.
Side event flyer
The GICHD studies residual contamination and post-1945 response practices, focusing on policy development, risk management and ERW degradation. The research project extends to 15 countries and serves to facilitate knowledge transfer and advise policy-making on residual contamination among national governments and donors.
An increasing number of mine/ERW affected countries are now approaching the completion stage of identifying and clearing all known hazardous and contaminated areas. As these countries conclude proactive survey and clearance activities, they transition to a context where reactive survey and clearance activities will be implemented.
Countries are facing two key challenges as they transition into this new context:
The GICHD provided assistance to Mozambique’s National Demining Institute (IND) in 2014 by assessing the country’s capacities to manage residual contamination once its APMBC A5 obligations have been fulfilled. During a side event at the Maputo Third Review Conference, the GICHD presented preliminary findings and key recommendations. The IND has implemented several recommendations, including those regarding information management and terminology, which has resulted in greater clarity. The GICHD also assisted the IND with drafting a strategy on the management of residual contamination, working in close collaboration with the IND. This strategy will help relevant stakeholders establish appropriate structures and manage the problem in the most effective and efficient manner.
In recognition of the lack of documented good practices and lessons learnt on national capacity development in the management of residual contamination, the GICHD responded to a request from several mine-affected countries and launched the National Capacities and Residual Contamination project in late 2013. This project conducts case studies; provides recommendations; and offers targeted, country-specific guidance.
Over-reaching targets for the project are to provide relevant national and international stakeholders with:
A series of GICHD case studies on national capacities and residual contamination are being published in 2014 and 2015. They are based on both desk-top research and findings from GICHD missions.
Åsa MASSLEBERG | Advisor, Strategy, Transition and Development