2013 To Walk the Earth in Safety: Implementation Tools and Fora

Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
August 1, 2013

The International Mine Action Standards

The International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) provide a framework to ensure that mine action programs are safely and efficiently planned, managed, and implemented. The guidelines offered by IMAS help coordinate mine action activities that are often divided among multiple actors, whether national or international, governmental or humanitarian. Offering an overview of internationally accepted standards and best practice, IMAS provide a consistent point of reference for mine action programs around the world.

IMAS are designed to be used as a reference, rather than as an inflexible set of rules, to guide the creation and implementation of national mine action standards. These standards guide clearance operations and must flexibly meet the varying realities of affected communities around the world.

IMAS are organized into 14 series, or categories. Each series provides detailed information on best practices for specific areas of mine action, covering topics ranging from information management to land release and from landmine/explosive remnants of war (ERW) risk education to stockpile destruction.

Series 1 through 6 provide general guidelines and background information. The first three series address the application of IMAS, the establishment of mine action programs, and equipment testing and evaluation. Series 4 contains a glossary of key terms, and Series 5 focuses on information management.

The next two series focus on the management of mine action programs. Series 6 addresses the management of training, and Series 7 offers detailed guidelines regarding the management of contracts and accreditation and the monitoring of organizations and operations.

The remaining six series focus on specific mine action tasks. Series 8 and 9 address land release and mine/ERW clearance. Standards for deminer safety and occupational health are covered in Series 10, while Series 11 concentrates on mine/ERW stockpile destruction. Guidelines for planning and implementing mine/ERW risk education are provided in Series 12. Series 13, on victim assistance, has not yet been incorporated into recent IMAS revisions. The evaluation of mine action programs is covered in Series 14, the final IMAS series.

The IMAS were developed at the request of the mine action community. In March 1997 the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) introduced the International Standards for Humanitarian Mine Clearance Operations, which were developed by a working group led by the United Nations. The original standards were expanded, redeveloped, and launched as IMAS in October 2001 with the support of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD). The IMAS continue to evolve, and GICHD, on behalf of UNMAS, updates and maintains the standards. Relatedly, GICHD coordinates technical committees tasked with amending the existing standards as needed to reflect new developments in mine action and international regulations.

Some IMAS are translated into Arabic, Armenian, Chinese, French, Russian, and Spanish. The most recent IMAS in English and other translations are available online at www.mineactionstandards.org.

The Information Management System for Mine Action

Supported by the Geneva International Centre for Humani­tarian Demining (GICHD), the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) facilitates greater ef­ficiency and effectiveness in mine action programs. IMSMA was designed to meet the needs of the mine action community by providing a computerized tool that supports decision-making and management of operational activities.

Initially released in 1999 by Zurich’s Institute of Technology and first used in Kosovo, IMSMA is now used by most mine action programs. More specifically, it is used in more than 65 countries and has been installed 1,200 times. Governments, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and peacekeeping forces use IMSMA.

Helping mine-action managers document and analyze data, IMSMA’s highly customizable system analyzes and records key factors essential to operational management. IMSMA manages data input of contaminated areas; remaining threats; and trends in casualty, survey, and clearance rates. With these data, IMSMA can produce detailed maps, statistics, and other planning tools to track progress and support prioritization decisions.

In 2005 IMSMANG, a re-engineered version of IMSMA, was released by GICHD and the software developer FGM, Inc. The newer version’s flexible architecture is able to meet a wider va­riety of situations and needs. IMSMANG supports both small and large programs with networks and users at multiple sites and organizations. New features also allow users to classify data, vali­date data quality, and design their own forms and reports.

IMSMA software is regularly updated and revised in response to feedback, and IMSMA provides patch software as needed. Support for IMSMA maintenance and development mainly comes from the Swiss government.

GICHD offers IMSMA free of charge to national mine ac­tion authorities and other mine action organizations. Its software is based on basic computer technology and is easily customizable. Mine action organizations can contact GICHD directly to ob­tain IMSMA software.

Contact Information:
Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining
or http://gichd.org

U.S. Quick Reaction Force

Date: 2012 Description: A member of PM/WRA's Quick Reaction Force inspects World War II-era projectiles found on Tarawa Reef in Kiribati.  © Photo courtesy of the Quick Reaction Force
A member of PM/WRA’s Quick Reaction Force inspects World War II-era projectiles found on Tarawa Reef in Kiribati.

Since 2008, DynCorp International, a global government-service provider based in Falls Church, Virginia, has been supporting the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) with a Quick Reaction Force (QRF). The QRF is a deployable team of conventional weapons destruction experts that works in concert with U.S. Embassies and host nations to respond to critical risks posed by explosive remnants of war, including cluster munitions, landmines, and other types of explosive hazards. The QRF complements international humanitarian operations and post-conflict stability initiatives in the host nation, allowing them to proceed unhindered by the presence of explosive hazards.

QRF teams have been deployed to Bulgaria, Cyprus, Kiribati, Libya, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Saint Kitts, Tanzania, Uruguay, and Vietnam. After a QRF Assessment Team enters an area to assess the situation, it develops tentative disposal plans and identifies and coordinates logistics for the QRF Operational Element, which conducts necessary disposal operations. In addition to these operations, QRF mentors and trains local forces on disposal operations, including how to safely and effectively handle, store, and dispose of hazards such as small arms and light weapons and man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS).

Point of Contact:
Dennis Hadrick, QRF Program Manager
Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA)
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
SA-3, Suite 6100
2121 Virginia Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20522
telephone: +1 202 663 0109
fax: +1 202 663 0090
website: //2009-2017.state.gov/t/pm/wra

The Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction

The illicit proliferation of conventional weapons and accidental explosions of stockpiles of aged and/or deteriorating munitions have the potential to cause grave humanitarian disasters, which can destabilize individual countries or entire regions. The Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction (RASR) initiative is a coordinated effort to eliminate threats posed by excess, dangerously stored, poorly secured, un­stable, or otherwise hazardous stockpiles of conventional weapons and munitions in Southeast Europe.

RASR engages the expertise of the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA), along with the Slovenia-based ITF Enhancing Human Security, the NATO Support Agency, the Organization for Secu­rity and Co-operation in Europe, RACVIAC Center for Security Cooperation, South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, Small Arms Survey, and the Swiss Implementation and Verification Unit of the Swiss Army.

RASR held its inaugural workshop in Zagreb, Croatia, in May 2009. In atten­dance were Southeastern Europe government officials who have authority on the management of their countries’ stockpiles, along with officials from relevant do­nor government agencies and various experts on arms and munitions issues. As a result of this workshop, RASR identified the following five priority issues related to stockpile reduction:

  1. National and regional policy
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Training, education, and capacity building
  4. Sharing of best practices and other information
  5. Standardization of munitions classifications, surveillance systems, and points of contact

Four more RASR workshops occurred between 2009 and 2012, and the sixth was held in Bled, Slovenia, in 2013. This latest workshop was the first to include par­ticipants at the Deputy Minister of Defense level. Representatives from the United States and European states have participated in one or more of these RASR work­shops, which provide opportunities to network and build professional relationships, share practices and lessons learned, encourage regional stockpile reduction efforts that leverage economies of scale, obtain information on technical and financial as­sistance, and contribute to regional stability.

Point of Contact:
Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction
email: info@rasrinitiative.org
website: http://rasrinitiative.org

The Senior Managers’ Course in ERW and Mine Action

In May–June 2013, the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR) at James Madison University (JMU) conducted its ninth Senior Managers’ Course in ERW and Mine Action (SMC). CISR has hosted SMC on the campus of JMU since 2004, initially with funding from the U.N. Development Programme. The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA) became the course sponsor in 2010.

The course participants are selected from a wide pool of applicants and are each leaders in their respective national mine action and explosive remnants of war (ERW) programs. This year, students from 13 different countries attended the four-week course. The diversity of backgrounds and experience makes the course even more valuable as students share unique perspectives and exchange ideas with classmates from countries facing similar challenges.

SMC draws on the expertise of internationally recognized JMU professors and other subject-area experts to effectively apply management best practices to situations in the field. The curriculum incorporates the latest academic research in business management, best practices, and emerging ERW issues. Participants hone program management and strategic planning skills and develop a professional network for continued collaboration with classmates, JMU faculty, CISR staff, and PM/WRA personnel.

SMC’s main objectives are as follows:

  • Participants develop the skills needed by effective managers, such as oral and written communication, time management, and media relations.
  • Faculty provide management training with an emphasis on application in the field, including strategic planning, project management, leadership skills, and human resource management.
  • Subject-area experts enhance managers’ knowledge of humanitarian ERW and mine action challenges, techniques, and emerging practices.

Graduates of the SMC return to their national programs with better skills to more effectively carry out their vital humanitarian mission. Since 2010, SMC participants have come from Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Jordan, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Nepal, Senegal, Slovenia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Uganda, and Vietnam.

Point of Contact:
Geary Cox II, M.A.
Program Coordinator and Project Manager
Center for International Stabilization and Recovery
James Madison University
800 South Main Street, MSC 4902
Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA 22807
telephone: +1 540 568 3356
fax: +1 540 568 8176
website: http://cisr.jmu.edu/training/SMC.html