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Diplomacy in Action

Overview of the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program

To Walk the Earth in Safety: The U.S. Commitment to Humanitarian Mine Action
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
August 2004

To Walk the Earth in Safety describes the United States commitment to help rid the world of landmines that threaten civilians around the world. This effort supports the U.S. Strategic Objectives to advance sustainable development and global interests by providing a humanitarian response to the harmful social and economic effects generated by landmines and unexploded ordnance and to advance peace and security by promoting regional stability through the use of mine action as a confidence-building measure. Accordingly, the United States helps to reduce the number of civilian landmine casualties, return refugees and internally displaced persons threatened by landmines to their homes and enhance the political and economic stability of those countries affected by landmines.

A U.S. Government Policy Coordinating Committee (PCC) Subgroup on Mine Action, chaired by the National Security Council, with the U.S. Department of State (DOS), the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Central Intelligence Agency as members, is in charge of approving, developing and coordinating U.S. humanitarian mine action assistance. A typical U.S. program involves assisting a landmine-infested country in the establishment of a mine action center (MAC) or a national demining office (NDO), a mine risk education program and a demining training program and often also involves funding actual mine clearance operations. As the country develops its mine clearance capabilities, the PCC Subgroup periodically evaluates the progress of the program. When the program reaches self-sustainment, the United States relinquishes its active role to the host nation.

The Department of State, through its Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, is the lead agency in coordinating U.S. humanitarian mine action programs worldwide. PM/WRA's mission is to develop policy options, implement destruction and mitigation programs and engage civil society in order to reduce the harmful worldwide effects generated by the indiscriminate used of illicit and abandoned conventional weapons of war. PM/WRA oversees the day-to-day management of bilateral mine action assistance programs among its other responsibilities. In addition, PM/WRA encourages the participation of civil society in mine action through a unique public-private partnership program. Visit to learn more about this program.

USAID promotes sustainable development by providing humanitarian services in post-conflict situations. Its Bureau of Humanitarian Response, Office of Transition Initiatives, bridges the gap between emergency humanitarian assistance and long-term development assistance by supporting organizations and people in emergency transition in conflict-prone countries. In addition, USAID's Senator Patrick J. Leahy War Victims Fund (LWVF) contributes to improving the mobility, health and social integration of the disabled, including landmine survivors. Typically, USAID works through non-governmental organizations to develop a country's capacity of sustainable services for amputees.

In some situations, DoD funds a humanitarian mine action program's start-up costs, and DOS provides subsequent funds to procure the necessary equipment, further training (such as for managers) and continue support until the program reaches the U.S. Government's end-state. The components of the DoD mine action program are: (1) mine risk education; (2) MAC development; (3) civil-military cooperation; (4) immediate trauma aid for mine accident survivors; and (5) demining training and "Train-the-Trainer" instruction.

To Walk the Earth in Safety describes the extensive history of the U.S. commitment to humanitarian mine action since the program's inception in Fiscal Year 1993. The preceding table depicts all U.S.-funded humanitarian mine action endeavors through the end of Fiscal Year 2003.

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