Demining and other mine action related work is carried out by commercial entities, non-governmental organisations and public sector operators.

This work is contracted by national mine action authorities, national mine action centres, UN agencies, bilateral aid agencies, the oil and gas industry and civil engineering companies. In the context of mine clearance, a contract is normally a time-bound agreement between a contracting agency and a contractor for the provision of certain services and/or equipment.

Why is there a need for legal efficiency in mine action?

Improvements in land release methodology and frequent contracting of demining capacities over recent years have underlined the importance of liability and insurance in mine action. This is because, whether or not land is physically cleared, there is always the possibility of a mine or other ERW being left behind after the handover of a cleared area. An item of ERW may be missed during clearance, or land may have been incorrectly released by survey when it was in fact contaminated. Subsequently, an injury or death may occur and the question of who is legally responsible remains.


The GICHD works in the area of legal efficiency in mine action. This includes in contracting, insurance, liability and other areas.

In 2009, the GICHD completed a study of contracting in mine action. The study resulted in the GICHD’s Guide to Contracting in Mine Action (2009 and 2012) and in a comprehensive training programme that covers the various aspects of mine action contracting.

The GICHD also completed a study of liability and insurance in mine action, during which liability issues and insurance were examined. The study was undertaken in cooperation with the Swiss Institute for Comparative Law, and involved three small-scale country studies that focus on how liabilities are dealt with, a subject closely linked to the process of releasing land. The GICHD provides training in liability and insurance.

The Guide to Liability and Insurance in Mine Action is available for download.

Handover of land

The handing over of land as part of the land release process also has a number of legal aspects. Consideration must be given to liability for residual risk, land rights and the process as such. The process should include a full review of documentation pertaining to the release process and the methods used quality assurance and control undertaken during the release process as well as land rights. The national mine action authority should have clear standards for the documentation to be provided and reviewed when operators are handing over land. The authority should also have a clear process for how land is accepted by the authority and a handover certificate should be provided upon completion of the hand over.