1.The Standing Committee of Experts on Mine Clearance, established by the First Meeting of the States Parties to the Ottawa Convention (Mine Ban Treaty), met in Geneva , Switzerland , from 13 to 15 September, 1999 . 2.The Meeting was Co-Chaired by Ambassador Alvaro Da Silva ( Mozambique ) and Mr. Gareth Aicken ( United Kingdom ). The Co-Rapporteurs of the Meeting were Mr. Alexander Verbeek ( Netherlands ) and Mr. Gustavo Laurie ( Peru ). The Meeting received administrative and secretarial support from the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD). 3.The meeting considered five topics:
  • Standards and Criteria
  • Measures of Impact and Benefit
  • Planning and Prioritisation
  • Coordination
  • Building National Capacity
4.A full half-day session was dedicated to each one of these topics. About 161 delegates, representing governments, intergovernmental organizations, international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), participated in the discussions of this Meeting. 5.Each topic specified an objective for the meeting. The meeting did not seek to reach detailed agreement on matters discussed. Instead, matters were identified which should be explored further. The follow-up action would focus on practical and achievable outcomes which would add value to the Ottawa process. The SCE should not duplicate existing work or "reinvent the wheel". But it could identify what has been done and hence determine what still needed to be done. Each piece of follow-up action would be taken forward by a particular country/organisation which would arrange to consult as appropriate with others interested, both in undertaking the work, and in preparing the report for the March meeting. 6.There will be a second meeting of this Standing Committee of Experts (SCE) on 27 to 29 March 2000. It was agreed that certain follow-up action would be undertaken after the present meeting in preparation for the Second Meeting of State Parties (SMSP) in September 2000. Progress reports on this follow-up action will be given to participants at the March meeting. The March meeting will consider the progress made and decide on what to report, and what recommendations to make, to the SMSP. 7.The practical outcomes are various: in particular cases they might be (for example) specific studies, coordinating activities or investigations, political endorsements or commitment, identification of funding required to meet gaps or merely an increase of understanding of what was being done. The meeting aimed to identify for each topic a short action plan, including identifying who would take responsibility for the action concerned (and where necessary who would provide funding) between now and March 2000, and the SMSP in September 2000. 8.What the Standing Committee wouldn achieve will depend on what participants at this meeting were willing to do to help: the more who were prepared to contribute to action, the more would be achieved. 9.The Meeting agreed to present as an annex to this report a summary of some relevant points of view discussed during the meeting; this paper was introduced by Ecuador on behalf of some mine-affected countries ( Ecuador , Laos , Mozambique , Nicaragua , Peru , Thailand and Yemen ) and of the Somalian Mine-Action Group (Annex 1). Annex 2 contains a statement made by the representative of the Mine Action Working Group of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL)

Topic 1: Standards and Criteria

10.The first issue discussed during the first session was the need to define an appropriate and achievable clearance standard for minefields which would satisfy the requirements of the Convention and provide guidance to the mine clearance community. This session also discussed the main conditions necessary for effective clearance and how they might be improved. 11.Introductory presentations were made by Stephane Vigié (United Nations Mine Action Service - UNMAS) and Bill Howell (Handicap International). 12.The current standards as set by the United Nations (UN) are under review by UNMAS. There are several problems with these standards, for instance, no prodders and few hand held mine detectors will safely detect minimum-metal antipersonnel mines down to 200 mm and there are currently no common guidelines for interpreting how a clearance standard of at least 99.6% can be measured or objectively verified in different circumstances. The revision is also required to take into account the development of new technologies and techniques, the increased acceptance of using mechanical equipment and mine sniffing dogs. The existing definition of "clearance" will also be re-examined. The newly proposed standards of mine clearance shall be achievable, verifiable and consistent with the requirements of the Mine Ban Treaty. UNMAS will report the next meeting of the SCE on Mine Clearance in March 2000 on the progress of the review and will present the report on the new standards at the meeting of States Parties in September 2000. 13.Improved administrative and political guidelines were needed in order to maintain an optimal working environment to facilitate mine clearance. These guidelines should be flexible enough to reflect the diverse realities of mine-affected countries. Issues arose such as determining common pay scales applicable to a particular country, insurance and compensation, arrangements for importing equipment, criteria for formally recognising mine action operators etc. Quality assurance needs to be addressed. Lack of agreement or clarity on such issues often blocks or delays effective mine clearance. 14.The ICBL Mine Action Working Group made a proposal, inter alia, to develop recommendations for guidelines to address these concerns, which is attached to the report as Annex 2. 15.During the discussion of standards it was made clear that the current UN definition of clearance ("... the contractor must achieve at least 99.6% of the agreed standard of clearance") does not mean that the contractor should not aim to achieve 100% clearance to a level and depth which is appropriate and achievable; it merely recognised that absolute guarantees could never be given. Neither does it detract from the political commitment by States Parties to clear all mines. 16.Other guidelines for mine action exist, such as the Bad Honnef Guidelines and the Humanitarian Mine Action Statement of Principles (HI/MAG/NPA). Parallels exist with guidelines in other fields such as the Dutch guidelines for land decontamination. 17.The need for coordination in mine action on best practices and existing standards was stressed. It was also suggested that a professional mine action journal should be developed (HI is considering establishing such a publication). 18.It was suggested that the testing of mine clearance dogs, tools and methods should be standardised.

19. Agreed Action

Complete review of international standards applicable to mine clearance and its techniques by the time of the SMSP (GICHD on behalf of UNMAS , UK in principle to fund). Contributions to this process from all interested bodies will be welcomed ( Norway and ICBL announced their intention to participate). Prepare a discussion paper, which explores the relationship between the UN Standards for mine clearance and the requirements of the Ottawa Convention. ( Canada ). Consider mine action terminology and recommend adoption of common and easily understood terms in cases where current terms are not clear or where new issues have arisen (GICHD). Develop guidelines to indicate conditions for establishing a conducive operating environment in which mine clearance can take place most effectively (GICHD). ICBL will present inputs to this study. Expand and disseminate relevant "good practice" guidelines/principles such as the Bad Honnef guidelines and the Humanitarian Mine Action Statement of Principles (ICBL; HI/MAG/NPA).

Topic 2: Measures of Impact and Benefit

20.The aim of the second session was to promote the search for a valid and agreed set of indicators which can measure the impact of landmines on communities in socio-economic or developmental terms, as well as the benefits achieved due to clearance. It also aimed at encouraging the application of these indicators in both appraisal and evaluation of mine clearance projects, and the establishment of priorities. 21.Introductory presentations were made by Eric Filippino (GICHD) and Bob Eaton (Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation-VVAF / Survey Action Center -SAC) 22.The UNDP is commissioning a study through GICHD to provide a socio-economic framework for mine action. This will identify us eable indicators of impact and benefit that will assist both the planning and prioritisation of mine action activities and the subsequent evaluation of their effectiveness. 23.The Survey Working Group of the Survey Action Centre has started a series of Level-1 surveys. The surveys will measure the scope of the mine threat and help determine the action necessary to deal with it. Involving the local population and gaining their commitment to the Level-1 survey was essential. Survey results should influence national policy. 24.Simple measures of effectiveness of clearance - such as numbers of mines removed or destroyed, or the area of land cleared - had their uses but do not provide adequate measures of benefit to the communities affected or of impact on development. Hence there is a need for socio-economic indicators, which shall include humanitarian and environmental concerns. This represents a shift of perspective. It may take some time before this change of perspective is fully accepted. 25.It was stated by several participants that mine clearance can be an essential ingredient in peace and confidence building measures after a conflict or in negotiations for peace. The mere organisation of the mine clearance activities in a post-conflict situation can be seen as a confidence building measure because it brings together all involved actors. Another example of the benefits of mine clearance is the preservation of the patterns of life of nomads. 26.The start of the Level-1 surveys was welcomed by the participants. Those undertaking the surveys should work in full collaboration with the national authorities. The governments of mine affected countries were asked to make available all relevant information to those undertaking the surveys (including maps). Full consultation with all parties involved will ensure inclusion of everyone's interests and ownership by all stakeholders. 27.The terminology for Level 1, 2 and 3 Surveys should be redefined, as it implies a sequence. 28.The creation of a Map Clearing House where maps of (possible) mined areas could be available to all interested actors in the field of mine action was under consideration ( USA ). Participants were reminded that at the Maputo Conference it was decided that maps indicating mined areas which are sent to the UN as part of Article 7 reporting will be available to all interested Parties through the depositary of the Mine Ban Treaty.

29. Agreed Action

Undertake a study into the development of socio-economic indicators, which will help measure the impact of mines and the benefits of clearance to be completed before SMSP. This study should be made as transparent as possible by seeking views of interested parties, including regional organisations (GICHD on behalf of UNDP, funded by interested donors). Identify funding for further Level-1 surveys (SAC, interested donors). Explore the links, and provide indicators, on the impact of mine clearance on the processes of peacebuilding and reconstruction (International Development Research Centre - IDRC).

Topic 3: Planning and Prioritisation

30.The aim of the third session was to promote better understanding of the information requirements for planning and the prioritisation of tasks for different stakeholders, and to determine whether (and how) existing institutional mechanisms and support tools need strengthening. This should lead to better national planning, and better prioritisation of international resources against the needs of States Parties requesting assistance. 31.Introductory presentations were made by Bounphone Sayasenh (UXO Lao), Svein Henriksen ( Norway ) and Tim Carstairs (Mines Advisory Group-MAG). 32.A presentation was made on how Laos is organising and setting the priorities for the clearing of mines and UXOs. The importance of long term planning, a national long term capacity and the need for a management system with clear mandates were stressed. Difficulties in balancing the national needs, standards and systems with donor and NGO ideas and wishes were overcome by clear management procedures. The planning approach of Laos reflects community needs mainly at District or Provincial level. Much of the priority work is directed to agriculture, water supplies and basic infrastructure activities. 33.The most urgent challenges to be faced to achieve the goals of the Ottawa Convention were addressed in Norway 's presentation. It is essential to identify critical areas in mine affected countries, to develop a uniform understanding of the problems therein and to agree on a set of measures that will increase the capacity to resolve these problems. Five areas were identified that are particularly relevant for making humanitarian mine clearance more efficient: the further development and universalisation of international mine clearance standards, the development of an impact measurement tool, the establishment of capable coordination groups at the Country level, consistency between project proposals and the overall national plan for mine action and, the fifth relevant area, the issues discussed in the SCE should be put together in a report. 34.Donors as well as mine affected countries should be involved in the process of planning and prioritisation, which should be based on the needs of mine affected countries. In planning humanitarian mine action and in prioritising actions, the primary stakeholder at all times must be the people affected by mines. Just as mines are delayed-action weapons, the longer term impact of mine clearance and its integration with development should be considered, not just the quantity of mines or land cleared. 35.An integrated approach of all involved actors is needed and their responsibilities should be clear. Mine affected countries and other participants stressed the need for sustainable, long term funding because long term planning in mine affected countries is often complicated by short term funding and by a multitude of sometimes conflicting donor inputs. Donors were asked to simplify the procedures for long term funding. Several donors agreed to this in principle but explained the difficulties in practice of providing long term funding if they had only one-year budgets. A solution may be found in the promotion of joint funding of projects by the donor community, which will reduce the risks of discontinuity. 36.Transparency on policies and projects is needed. NGOs were encouraged to continue and expand the publication of mine action project portfolios. Other organisations were encouraged to contribute. UNDP is continuing work on the UN Portfolio. Information on the usefulness of such documents to stakeholders would be welcomed. 37.Several views were expressed on the issue of providing mine clearance assistance to countries which were either non States Parties or in which signatory States continued to lay mines. Some stressed that the population in mined areas should not be held responsible for the decision of their government; victims should not be further victimised. In such cases, several donor countries fund mine clearance activities through NGO's, rather than through governments. Others argued against mine clearance in a country where there is the risk of remining because the country had not signed the Convention, which would imply waste of scarce resources. Exceptions to this policy could be made on humanitarian grounds and in emergency situations, for example, in connection with the securing of emergency and aid programs and ensuring the safety of relief personnel. Landmine survivors should always receive appropriate care.

38.Agreed Action

Develop a base-line report containing quantitative and qualitative information on critical issues, which were identified by SCE Mine Clearance meeting so that progress can be reported to the SMSP (the co-rapporteurs will collect all the results of the work to be undertaken after this meeting). This may be relevant to all action plans of the five SCE's. Further develop existing portfolios of mine action projects, consider whether these can be merged (UNMAS; HI/MAG/NPA). Improve reporting, dissemination of information about projects and the level of transparency surrounding all donor activities through the developments of an "electronic donor exchange mechanism", which will also include a data field through which donors can provide information on any principles or guidelines which influence their decision-making with respect to supporting specific projects or programs. The data exchange mechanism will be released during the November Mine Action Support Group (MASG) meeting in New York. (Canada in collaboration with UNMAS). Make mine-affected countries national and mine action plans available through a UN website. This website could provide links to other relevant websites. (Interested mine affected countries; UNMAS).

Topic 4: Coordination

39.The aim of the fourth session was to identify how well existing methods of co-ordination succeed, including information acquisition and flows. This session also aimed to identify where they may need to be strengthened and in what ways. Best practice could be encouraged and disseminated 40.Introductory presentations were made by Sayed Aqa (ICBL/SAC) and Dan Livermore (Canada). 41.Mine action should be approached as a whole; all components should be addressed in a balanced manner. The UN system needs to further refine its strategy and structure to address mine action in a more coherent way. National level coordination mechanisms should be further strengthened. Mine Action Centres should focus on coordination rather then becoming de facto implementing agencies. NGOs and other implementing organisations need to better coordinate current and planned policies as well as activities at headquarters. 42.Coordination is not possible without planning and planning is not possible without data. Therefore donor countries should offer help to mine affected countries in the collection of data. 43.Different views were expressed on the current effectiveness of coordination within the UN system. The UN encouraged other stakeholders to be frank and open about their expectations of the working of the UN bodies involved in mine action. 44.Options for strengthening the role of UNMAS as the UN focal point were discussed. Differing views on the role of the Mine Action Support Group (MASG), being a UN oriented donors group were expressed. 45.Different views were expressed about the mechanisms for coordination at national level: whether a Mine Action Centre (MAC) should be in charge, or whether an alternative arrangement was appropriate. Because of the large number of actors, which are normally involved in mine clearance operations, it was suggested that a committed and capable coordination group should be established in each area. Such a group could be headed by the national authorities and include donors, international organisations and relevant national and international NGO's. This group should work closely with the mine action centre. 46.It was suggested that donors should include a coordination clause in the contracts of projects being funded, in order to ensure mine action is well coordinated at field level. 47.Landmine Monitor intends to produce its LM-Report annually. This publication also provides information on the needs of mine affected countries. The quality of the report will depend on the information it can obtain about each country; therefore, all country-representatives were recommended to contact the reporter for their country. 48.Apart from the three levels (international, national and field level) at which coordination was usually considered, the regional level (regional organisations) was also important.

49.Agreed Action

  • Revive the Inter Agency Steering Committee to improve national coordination (UNMAS).
  • Compare national coordination mechanisms to identify best practice applicable in specific cases (Nicaragua).
  • Compare national coordination mechanisms within SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) for similar purposes. Set up informal/formal co-ordination mechanisms at national level involving all stake-holders. (Mozambique)
  • Disseminate both positive news and shortcomings (identifying gaps) on achievements in mine action (UNMAS and ICBL).
  • Explore means of improving the collection and dissemination of information relevant to mine clearance and humanitarian mine action and making it readily accessible to key stakeholders. (The International Development Research Centre (IDRC)).
  • Identify the reasons, and offer assistance where practicable, to countries which had not yet met their reporting obligations under Article 7 of the Convention. To report on this to the Meeting of the Standing Committee on the Status and Operations of the Convention in January 2000 - with a brief summary report to the March meeting of the Mine Clearance Standing Committee.(Canada with contributions of other interested countries).
  • The FMSP in Maputo invited the GICHD to provide facilities to circulate information on its website on the work of SCEs. The GICHD has established a webpage for the SCE on Mine Clearance. The GICHD accepted the request of this SCE Meeting to publish the summary of this meeting on this page, which will also be used as a means of providing information on the follow-up of the meeting. The webpage shall include a bulletin board, where comments, suggestions and ideas of the stakeholders are welcomed, as well as an editorial page for co-chairs and co-rapporteurs. (GICHD).

Topic 5: Building National Capacity

50.The aim of the fifth session was to promote better understanding within the Committee on the requirements for identifying best practices and common constraints in order to encourage the improvement of national capacity building. 51.Introductory presentations were made by Mr Artur Verissimo (Mozambique) and Mr. Ian Mansfield (UNDP Mine Action). 52.The National Demining Institute (IND) of Mozambique was recently established to replace the former National Demining Commission. Its task is to ensure the most cost-effective use of all resources to address the landmine and UXO problem. The development of a national Mine Clearance Capacity, according to this national experience, could be phased in the following way: development of a National Masterplan to address the problem and all the relevant inter-disciplinary considerations, obtaining the national and international resources required for each case, co-ordinated allocation of the resources, management of mine clearance (where the development of an effective management system is advised), and execution of mine clearance operations with appropiate technology. International cooperation could be needed in each of these phases. 53.The most discussed subjects in the plenary were those related to the need of sustainable national capacity and the issue of use of the military in demining. 54.The necessity of the development of a sustainable national mine action capacity was underlined. When international expertise is needed, transfer of their competence to national personnel and institutions should be part of the project and should be planned from the very beginning. 55.Several delegations from mine affected countries shared the view that it is essential to this process that each mine affected country develop its own capacities for mine clearance. National capacity building was said to be cheaper, even though appropiate training will be needed. Mine Action Committees and the Mine Action Centers were described as being the representatives of the Ottawa spirit at the national level. 56.Concerning the role of Mine Action Centers in national capacity building a view was expressed that good management was the key for success. Difficulties in management performance and shortcommings to solve these should be identified. A lengthy period of training would be needed so trainers could observe how the work should be organised. 57.Some delegates indicated that some donors have concerns about the use of the military in mine clearance activities, while several others, many of them from mine affected countries said that the participation of the military could be helpful for this purpose, given that in many countries the military have responsibilities "other than war". Some delegations from mine affected countries indicated that, while using the military in mine clearance activities inside their territories, there was civil control over the military in several cases. 58.Many delegates raised the importance of a having a case by case approach to this issue. Some underlined that the work done at a regional level could be very helpful to this process, for instance, in the Organization of American States (OAS), which could have a special interest in this topic. 59.In Laos the annual program costs are around 15 million dollar, but only about 3 million dollar is for local staff and their operation costs. The majority of the budget is for international staff and equipment. Further national capacity building will reduce these costs.

60.Action Agreed

  • Identify conditions necessary for successful development of a sustainable national capacity, and common constraints; compare alternative models of national capacity, including aspects of civil and military cooperation (Germany and Australia to be confirmed).
  • Review UN policy on the use of the military (UNMAS).
  • Develop curricula and training materials to improve skills needed to develop national capacity (UNDP, Cranfield Mine Action).
  • Report on the implementation of the recommendations of the report "Development of Indigenous Mine Action Capabilities" (UNDP).
Note: This Report of the Co-Rapporteurs must be finally endorsed at the beginning of the Second Meeting of the Standing Committee of Experts on Mine Clearance (March 27-29, 2000). 


Summary of some relevant points of view compiled by Ecuador, Lao, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Peru Somali Mine Action Group, Thailand and Yemen as a contribution to the final drafting of the SCE report <//u>


Support was given to the revision of the UN International Humanitarian Mine Clearance Standards undertook by UNMAS, which should take into account inputs from all stakeholders possibly by means of electronic transmission of information means. A draft version of these reviewed standards should be available before the March 2000 SCE meeting so that stakeholders comprehensive data collection could further contribute towards a final version to be presented during the States Parties meeting in September 2000. Some stakeholders expressed concern over the binding nature of the revised standards and how they will relate to the Ottawa Convention with a view not to duplicate efforts, criteria or processes. Mine affected countries upheld the necessity for soft standards which should be flexible enough as to take into account their particular circumstances. A specialised journal could be useful for exchanging and disseminating information amongst member of the mine action community.


General support was rendered to the idea that humanitarian, social, economic and environmental impact indicators must be considered when assessing diverse cases. The UNDP indicated that it is reviewing the list of socio-economic indicators and the level one survey model. Stakeholders considered that this will support the SCE work and requested that the revision process should be fully inclusive. Some stakeholders added that peace, confidence and regional security building indicators as well as political reconciliation efforts should also come into the list because they create the scenario where socio-economic development projects and compliance with the Ottawa Convention itself could prosper. Various stakeholders underlined that the weight given to a particular impact indicator by mine affected countries or communities varies from one case to another and should in principle be upheld by the rest of the mine action community. If possible, there should be a link between wider national development planning and mine action components, although this should not prevent emergency actions if needed, which will facilitate post surveys and planning. Development Programmes should include a Countries able to provide mapping technology and facilities should be encouraged to proceed.


Stakeholders acknowledged that there are gaps between national needs and the planning and priorities set up by the mine clearance community as well as between mine clearance programmes and wider mine development planning. This should be corrected. Calls were made to take either the mine affected country or the local community own planning as the first reference and to allow for flexibility on who does the planning and prioritisation. Many stakeholders expressed the importance of allowing national planning and prioritisation as well as providing appropriate skills to implement National Action Plans so as to be able to be cost effective and successful, which in turn will secure continuous funding. This promoted calls for prioritising co-operation to enable better planning by all actors, develop proper management expertise and co-ordination skills at the national level to ensure that both the partnership and ownership criteria are dully balanced and long term approaches take over emergency and short term planning. Various stakeholders upheld the view that co-operation should primarily flow to the Ottawa Convention signatories to encourage its universality and prevent wasting resources in countries that have not shown the same level of commitment and could plant mines back, with the exception of emergency situations, victim assistance and awareness campaigns. Some stakeholders underlined that donors, IGO’s and NGO’s priorities should be based on projects rather than countries, which otherwise prejudices countries categorised as mid level problems as a whole. The importance of gathering relevant data, usable, accessible, accurate, comparable and easy to update and exchange amongst the various mine action community actors was stressed. Views were also expressed about the usefulness of information gathered by UNMAS assessment missions and supplied in the reports submitted under article 7, as a reference for donor’s prioritisation. The idea of compiling and widening portfolios of projects also came up in numerous remarks.


Stakeholders acknowledged the importance of having established mechanisms to allow efficient internal co-ordination, regional co-ordination where available, international co-ordination and field level co-ordination as well as linkage between all these levels. Regarding internal co-ordination, mine affected countries should be left to organise themselves as they consider convenient, although comparing past successes and failures should provide information on how to co-ordinate better. Hence, Nicaragua will chair a gathering of interested actors to exchange their own views and experiences Concerns where expressed as to why many member states had not reported under article 7, whether support was needed and if an incomplete report was better than nothing at all. This issue will be included in the agenda of the next 5 th SCE on the Status of the Convention IGO’s representatives expressed that existing co-ordination mechanisms such as the Steering Committee on Mine Action should be promoted instead of creating new mechanisms. A proposal was made to create an Ottawa Convention Stakeholders Board at national level to co-ordinate all mine action programmes, including mine clearance.


There was general agreement that national capacity building should be promoted and supported for long term programmes. The role of the military in mine clearance operations and what is the best way to structure the Mine action authorities should be decided at national level. The former issue is going to be further explored. Regional capacity building experiences are also an interesting issue. Regional organisations will be invited to the next meeting. 


Statement by the representative of the Mine Action Working Group of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) The ICBL Mine Clearance Working Group has agreed to develop recommendations and suggestions for guidelines that would contribute to the set up of an enabling environment for mine action in affected countries. They will also seek to identify areas where international regulations could be improved to facilitate mine action programme implementation. The Working Group has also agreed to review the existing set of NGO principles for humanitarian mine action with a view to broadening their scope and promoting their recognition, adoption and application by a wider range of actors. This work is intended to complement the UNMAS review of the International Mine Clearance Guidelines and other related documents of reference. The ICBL Working Group documents will be prepared for presentation and consideration at the SCE on Mine Clearance in March 2000, with a view to their presentation at the 2 nd Meeting of States Parties in September 2000. The Working Group further wishes to participate in the UNMAS review of International Standards in order to assure the broadest range of input for their defining document.