Over recent years, the community involved in achieving the aims of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention has begun to struggle with a fundamental question related to the efficiency of clearance efforts. That question was caused by the increasing realisation that much of the land being cleared, using expensive and resource-intensive assets, did not, in the end, contain hazardous items. Also, it is common for general assessments and impact surveys to overstate the scale of the problem, by declaring large areas to be suspect.
It has always been a challenge to distinguish clearly between those areas of land that pose a high degree of threat to local populations, and those that may have simply fallen into disuse. In addition, over recent years, extreme pressure on land in some countries has forced local populations to take matters into their own hands in the form of village demining, or simply re-occupying land, regardless of whether a government agency classifies the area as a Suspected Hazardous Area (SHA).
These emerging issues have forced the mine action sector to review its thoughts, processes and methodologies on how land can be released after it has been classified as a SHA. This is an emotive subject, and human nature is usually risk-averse. Generally, individuals will not make a decision which may later prove to be wrong - particularly when it involves human lives. The purpose of this study is to stimulate mine action programmes into thinking in a more lateral way and to consider more closely options for releasing land in a non-technical manner. The study has recently been re-published with some minor modifications.
The study was informed by a broad section of the mine action community. We would like in particular to thank the six programmes: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Croatia, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, that have allowed us to document and publish work relating to their programmes. We would also like to thank the Governments of the Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom for their financial support for this work.