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Procedure : 2011/2007(INI)
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Document selected : A7-0211/2011

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PV 07/07/2011 - 5
CRE 07/07/2011 - 5

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PV 07/07/2011 - 7.9
CRE 07/07/2011 - 7.9
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Thursday, 7 July 2011 - Strasbourg
Progress on mine action

European Parliament resolution of 7 July 2011 on Progress on Mine Action (2011/2007(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (henceforth the Mine Ban Treaty) of 3 December 1997, which entered into force on 1 March 1999,

–  having regard to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and the protocols thereto, especially Amended Protocol II on Landmines, Booby-Traps, and Other Devices and Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War,

–  having regard to its most recent resolutions of 22 April 2004 on anti-personnel landmines(1), of 7 July 2005 on a mine-free world(2), of 19 January 2006 on disability and development(3), of 13 December 2007 on the 10th anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty(4), and of 6 September 2001 on measures to promote a commitment by non-State actors to a total ban on anti-personnel landmines(5),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1724/2001 of 23 July 2001 concerning action against anti-personnel landmines in developing countries(6) and Council Regulation (EC) No 1725/2001 of 23 July 2001 concerning action against anti-personnel landmines in third countries other than developing countries(7),

–  having regard to the ‘Cartagena Action Plan 2010-2014: Ending the Suffering Caused by Anti-personnel Mines’ adopted at the Second Review Conference of the 1997 Ottawa Convention, which took place in Cartagena, Colombia, from 30 November to 4 December 2009,

–  having regard to the Commission Guidelines on European Community Mine Action 2008-2013,

–  having regard to its numerous resolutions on cluster munitions, most recently that of 8 July 2010(8), and on the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions signed by 94 states, which came into force on 1 August 2010,

–  having regard to the 2009 United Nations Mine Action Service Report,

–  having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A7-0211/2011),

A.   whereas the EU has been actively engaged in mine action, especially since its Joint Action of 1995, and is committed to the goal of a total ban on and the elimination of anti-personnel landmines (APL) worldwide; whereas the EU is a leading supporter of and contributor to mine action, which is among its human rights, humanitarian and development aid priorities,

B.  whereas ‘mine action’ includes survey, detection, marking and clearance of anti-personnel landmines (APL) and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) – including abandoned ordnance (AO), unexploded ordnance (UXO), cluster munition remnants and improvised explosive devices (IED); as well as mine and ERW risk education and training programmes especially for children, victim assistance, stockpile destruction and advocacy aimed at promoting the universalisation of relevant international conventions and treaties in order to put an end to the production, trade and use of APL,

C.   whereas the persistence of APL and ERW, including IED and cluster munitions remnants, in addition to inflicting loss of human life, especially among civilian populations, represents a serious obstacle to post-conflict reconstruction in afflicted countries, and may serve as raw material for IED,

D.   whereas, by 1 December 2010, 156 States had formally agreed to be bound by the Mine Ban Treaty,

E.  whereas in 1999 there were an estimated 18 000 casualties from APL and other ERW and by 2009 this had fallen to around 4 000, according to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitors; whereas 70% of these casualties are estimated to be civilians, a third of whom are children, and whereas so many people worldwide continue to be afflicted by APL and ERW,

F.  whereas only two governments – in Burma/Myanmar and Libya – have recently laid APL, no exports or state transfers of APL have been recorded, and only three states are thought to be continuing their manufacture, but insurgent groups such as the FARC are continuing to produce their own devices,

G.   whereas most armed forces have ceased using APL, but various armed non-state actors continue to use APL, along with victim-activated IED and cluster munitions,

H.   whereas more than 90 countries are still affected by APL and other ERW to some degree but the most seriously afflicted are Afghanistan, Colombia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos,

I.   whereas, in the first instance, it is the responsibility of affected states to address the problems of APL and ERW on their territory before, during and after a conflict,

J.  whereas little military manpower has been committed to mine clearance in many afflicted countries where conflict has ceased but where large local armed forces remain,

K.  whereas the need for victim assistance will continue long after the APL threat has been removed,

L.   whereas the international community has responded magnificently to the challenge of the APL tragedy, contributing some USD 3,9 billion to mine action between 1999 and 2009, and whereas the lead contributors have been the US (USD 902,4 million), the EC (USD 521,9 million), Japan (USD 336,9 million), Norway (USD 342,7 million), Canada (USD 259,8 million), the UK (USD 220,6 million), Germany (USD 206,9 million) and the Netherlands (USD 201,9 million),

M.  whereas the perception of a mine threat is often greater than the reality and it has been calculated that only 2% of land that is subject to the costly process of physical ‘clearance’ is actually contaminated with APL or other ERW; whereas there are clear indications on inefficient use of allocated funds for mine action; noting further that better survey methodologies and understanding of survey results can and have in recent years dramatically reduced the need for full clearance of suspected hazardous areas,

N.  whereas the techniques and technology of explosive detection, in spite of much investment, have not greatly advanced and there is a new imperative, given the increasing use of IED,

O.   whereas risk reduction education is a key element in helping people, especially children, in mine-affected regions to live more safely and to learn about the dangers of APL and ERW,

Global efforts on mine action

1.  Applauds the progress that has been made in mine action over the past decade but emphasises that efforts need to be refocused and intensified if the APL threat is to be eliminated within a finite period;

2.  Strongly welcomes the fact that 156 countries have now signed and ratified the Mine Ban Treaty, including 25 EU Member States, but regrets that some 37 countries have still not signed; urges all non-party states to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions; urges, in particular, those EU Member States that have yet to accede to the Treaty to do so and encourages greater synergy between the various international instruments;

3.  Strongly welcomes the fact that 56 countries have now joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions, including 15 EU Member States; welcomes, also, the adoption of the 2010 Vientiane Declaration and its action plan; calls on the EU and its Member States to promote the universalisation and implementation of both the MBT and the CCM;

4.  Supports fully the implementation of the Cartagena Action Plan, that provides for a detailed five-year plan of commitments in all areas of mine action, and calls on the Council to adopt a decision in support of this Plan as soon as possible;

5.  Stresses the need to find synergy between the various dimensions of mine action, with special regard to humanitarian and development aspects, also by increasing local ownership of and participation in related projects, in order to better respond to the needs of the people directly affected;

6.  Recognises the great contribution made by international donors, international agencies and NGOs to combating the scourge of APL and the dedication and sacrifice of both international and local personnel;

7.  Welcomes the fact that a further seven countries announced completion of their clearance activities in 2009 and 2010, bringing the total number of states having done so to 16;

8.  Recognises that the US has been the leading global sponsor of mine action, strongly supporting international programmes to clear mined areas and to help victims, and has already complied with most of the key provisions of the Mine Ban Treaty, and therefore encourages the US to accede to the Treaty;

9.  Urges Russia to accede to the Mine Ban Treaty, noting that Russia, previously a major source of APL, long recorded as a mine user, was removed from the 2010 list after declaring that it had halted deployment;

10.  Reminds Treaty states of their international obligation to destroy APL stockpiles; is concerned that China and Russia have the largest stockpiles of APL with an estimated 100 million and 24,5 million respectively; urges the EU to include in the negotiations with Russia and China the issue of destroying their existing stockpiles and rapid accession to the Mine Ban Treaty, and calls furthermore for the EU to continue promoting the universalisation of the Mine Ban Treaty and other relevant conventions, also by including the issue of mine action in its political dialogue and agreements signed with third countries;

11.  Deplores the continued use of APL by insurgent and terrorist groups and other non-state actors; in this regard, points to the situation in Colombia, where the FARC is estimated to be the most prolific user of APL among rebel groups anywhere in the world;

Case study – Afghanistan

12.  Notes that the widespread and indiscriminate use of APL during more than three decades of conflict has meant that Afghanistan is one of the world's most heavily contaminated countries, further afflicted by the use of IED by the Taliban;

13.  Deplores the fact that, despite more than a decade of clearance by the world's largest and most highly funded humanitarian demining programme, Afghanistan still has one of the highest casualty rates in the world, and expresses grave concern that of 508 APL and other ERW casualties between 1 March 2009 and 1 March 2010, over half were children;

14.  Recognises that the ongoing conflict in many areas renders mine clearance exceptionally hazardous and that the Taliban has targeted UN offices and both local and international personnel;

15.  Notes that some USD 80 million were donated by the international community for mine action in Afghanistan in 2009 and that since 2002 the EU's financial and technical assistance, amounting to EUR 89 million, has helped to clear approximately 240 km² of APL in the country, making land economically accessible and enabling properties to be reconstructed and families to return home; underlines the need for more focus on victim assistance and mine risk education;

16.  Welcomes the fact that operations rely almost exclusively on some 10 000 local personnel with international support, strengthening the ownership component of the process;

17.  Expresses concern at the apparent unwillingness of the Afghan Government at central and provincial levels to assume responsibility for mine action;

Case study – Angola

18.  Some 30 years of conflict have meant that Angola, like Afghanistan, is one of the most APL-afflicted countries;

19.  Notes that the CNIDAH has been well established as the national authority for mine action but donor countries have little leverage, and that the government has access to its own substantial financial resources, particularly from oil revenue;

20.  Is deeply concerned by the many structural problems highlighted by the Commission's 2009 evaluation, for example the inefficiencies of the EUR 2,7 million spent on 22 personnel at the CNIDAH; urges the EU to monitor, control and evaluate the effective use of money and to ensure that the allocated budget is used in an efficient and targeted manner to achieve the necessary result of cleared land;

21.  Regrets the fact that, despite the completion of a national survey in 2007 and a major mine action programme, the extent of the APL/ERW threat is still not known with confidence and that, at current rates of progress, it will take 100 years to clear the country; underlines the urgent need to establish a different relationship between government and international donors, to devote more national resources to the problem, introducing improved area reduction techniques and increased national mine clearance capacity, so that land can be more rapidly released for productive use;

Case study – Bosnia

22.  Regrets that, 16 years after the end of conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), there is still a high level of APL/ERW contamination, with about 11 000 minefields and an estimated 220 000 active APL and ERW throughout the country, representing a serious challenge to security and an impediment to economic and social development;

23.  Notes the improvements in mine action management through the establishment of the BiH Mine Action Centre, but regrets that BiH has fallen far behind the funding and clearance targets laid out in its extension request under the Mine Ban Treaty;

24.  Recognises that resource mobilisation poses major challenges for the government and that the Mine Action Strategy 2009–2019 has yet to be adopted; regrets that the government's principal body in charge of mine action, the Demining Commission, has not met with donor representatives based in Sarajevo for some years and that its members have not attended international meetings of the Mine Ban Treaty since the treaty's Second Review Conference in 2009; urges the government to take full ownership of mine action to ensure its strategic planning and management;

25.  Congratulates the Slovenian-based International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims assistance (ITFD) on its contribution to mine action in BiH, and emphasises the need for its focus to remain on BiH until that problem is fully overcome;

26.  Notes that 33 accredited demining organisations operate in BiH but that greater use could be made of military manpower;

27.  Applauds EUFOR ALTHEA and its Mines Risk Education Instructors for having provided training to several thousands of people, and encourages them to continue their efforts;

Victim assistance

28.  Recognises that the lives and livelihoods of APL and other ERW casualties are marked forever, that they are mainly civilian, often come from the poorest people in some of the poorest countries and require targeted and continuing medical and social support and assistance over many years, even when there are no further casualties;

29.  Welcomes the fact that, through mine action, the rate of casualties has been drastically reduced but much regrets the fact that civilians made up 70% of all casualties in 2009 and especially deplores the high proportion of child casualties;

30.  Regrets that landmine survivors or their representative organisations participated in the implementation of victim assistance in less than half of the affected countries, and agrees that such survivors' views and rights must be fully respected; urges the international community and the EU to significantly increase the proportion of its funding available for victim assistance but not at the expense of mine clearance;

Progress in mine detection and survey techniques

31.  Recognises that local people in mine-afflicted areas are the best initial indicators of where a mine threat exists;

32.  Notes that - even if advances have been made in mine detection technology, training and techniques - rapid, reliable, cost effective solutions remain elusive and that techniques using manual probes inevitably remain in widespread use; acknowledges the important contribution of the UN International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) in enhancing the safety and efficiency of mine action by setting standards and providing guidance, as well as the role of the UN Mine Action Service in coordinating mine action efforts;

33.  Notes that the most fruitful prospects for technical advances in detection lie in tailor-made methods based on the combination of a number of technologies, in order to avoid casualties and perform demining with minimal environmental impact;

34.  Recognises that properly conducted survey is only as valuable as the accuracy and efficiency of subsequent reporting and that donors need to ensure that their funding of such activity is well spent;

35.  Calls for the Commission to allocate further research funding to mine survey and detection technologies and techniques, in close international cooperation with those specialising in this field, and to use funds available in the context of Framework Programme 7 and the Security Research sector;

Towards an end to the APL threat

36.  Is concerned that some of the countries which suffer from APL affliction are relying too much on international financial assistance for mine action and not deploying enough of their own resources in manpower or revenue; calls on the EU to ensure greater involvement of the affected countries and to remind those countries of their responsibilities, and calls for the situation in Angola, in particular, to be scrutinised in order to mobilise a greater national contribution;

37.  Is concerned at the diversion of resources into ‘mine clearance’ in areas where there is little threat in humanitarian or economic development terms, or where there is a perception of a threat but no reality, to the detriment of a focus on areas of high threat to life; calls for greater emphasis on improved planning and management of operations and more accurate initial survey and reporting of suspect areas;

38.  Expresses concern at the poor security and control of military magazines holding weapons and explosive ordnance, including landmines, particularly in countries in revolt and disorder;

39.  Believes that the international community should focus its attention on those countries least able to help themselves and on mine clearance and assistance to victims, and that the aim should be to move more rapidly to a situation where countries can be declared free of mine threat to life and economic development;

40.  Urges donors to provide funding with more effective targeting, monitoring and evaluation;

41.  Believes that efforts should be concentrated on generating and developing greater local capacity, this may include specially trained local personnel on a structured and professional basis or greater use of military units in post conflict situations, specifically trained for humanitarian demining;

42.  Calls for improved national planning, drawing on best practice, and enhanced international coordination of mine action that more effectively targets resources to areas of priority need while maintaining light bureaucratic structures;

43.  Regrets that there is no reliable census of the current number of victims of APL/ERW/IED and urges that a proper analysis be made as a guide to targeting resources more effectively, with greater consideration being given to the needs of victims and their families;

44.  Regrets that, since the elimination of the EUs dedicated budget line in 2007, the EU has lacked an instrument that is flexible and multi-country in nature, responding coherently to mine action priorities, and that there is, in quantitative terms, a drop in overall EU funding for mine action; calls therefore for the restoration of a more dedicated approach, with one budget line under one lead directorate that will signal the strength of the EUs continued commitment to mine action, which needs to take into account the specific needs of individual countries as laid down in Country Strategy Papers and, at the same time, the fact that in some countries the existence of landmines has become a structural issue and thus an issue for EU development policy;

45.  Regrets that so far neither the exceptional assistance (Article 3) nor the long-term component (Article 4) of the Instrument for Stability have been used for the funding of mine action programmes;

46.  Stresses the capacity for mine action to make significant contributions to post-conflict disarmament, demobilisation and rehabilitation, not least by providing highly respected training and work for former combatants;

47.  Calls for donors to standardise their methods of monitoring and evaluating the cost effectiveness of mine actions, so that they are more open to comparison and scrutiny on a country-by-country basis, and through the agency of MASG, to identify and propagate best practice;

48.  Calls on the Commission to update its ‘Guidelines on European Community Mine Action 2008-2013’, to reflect proposed changes in the institutional and funding architecture, to ensure more rapid and flexible dispersal of funds, to provide clear instructions to access funding, focusing on the most urgent priorities and best practice, to foresee ‘packages’ of assistance to enable the most needy countries to comply with their Mine Ban Treaty obligations and to monitor and evaluate properly the effectiveness of funding;

49.  Underlines that mine action should form a compulsory element of country strategies where mines are known to exist and/or to be stockpiled;

50.  Is convinced that through better international coordination and prioritisation, improved management, survey and demining practices, better monitoring and reporting, and more astute and better use of funds, a world free of the APL threat to life, livelihood and economic development is a realistic possibility within a finite period;

o   o

51.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Member State governments, the European External Action Service and the Commission, the United Nations, the President of the United States and the US Congress, the governments of the most mine-afflicted countries and international NGOs.

(1) OJ C 104 E, 30.4.2004, p.1075.
(2) OJ C 157 E, 6.7.2006, p.473.
(3) OJ C 287 E, 24.11.2006, p.336.
(4) OJ C 323 E, 18.12.2008, p.485.
(5) OJ C 72 E, 21.3.2002, p.352.
(6) OJ L 234, 1.9.2001, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 234, 1.9.2001, p.6.
(8) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0285.

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