Organization Profile: Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement
Founded in October 2003, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs works to reduce the global humanitarian impact of all conventional weapons of war including landmines, unexploded ordnance, abandoned ordnance, man-portable air-defense systems, and small arms and light weapons.
PM/WRA develops, implements, and monitors U.S. policy and programs relating to conventional weapons of war, including landmines. Through these efforts, PM/WRA seeks to ensure peaceful, stable, and prosperous international environments.
Goals concerning conventional weapons include preventing illicit trafficking, reducing their availability to criminals and terrorists, and stemming the indiscriminate use of such weapons.
PM/WRA’s Public-Private Partnership program, which includes over 60 nongovernmental organizations (NGO) and corporations, enlists civil-society support for humanitarian mine action and related conflict-prevention and peace-building efforts. PM/WRA celebrated the 10th Anniversary of its Public-Private Partnership program in October 2007.
Other U.S. agencies, NGOs, international organizations, and private enterprises also work closely with the PM/WRA to help this office demonstrate the strong commitment of the United States to a set of values that respects human life.
U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA)
SA-3, Suite 6100
2121 Virginia Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C., 20522
Organization Profile: U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund
The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund (LWVF) has entered its 19th year as an organization dedicated to helping civilians whose lives have been affected by conflict. The LWVF provides an average of $10 million annually to help those living with disabilities cope with injuries caused by conflict, specifically those inflicted by conventional weapons of war. Designed to respond to the needs of civilian victims in war-affected developing countries, the Fund’s main goal is to expand access to affordable, appropriate medical services, including prosthetics and related assistance.
In 2003, the LWVF broadened its mission by strengthening its attempts to help civilian war victims and people with disabilities integrate economically, socially, and politically into their communities. Barrier-free access to school, work, recreation and the political process are among these efforts. In 2006, most activities funded by LWVF concerned prosthetics and orthotics. However, other activities included training, economic strengthening, policy and advocacy, and the provision of wheelchairs.
Many of those assisted have been landmine and unexploded ordnance survivors; however, the fund also seeks to help those who suffer from disabilities caused by interrupted immunization campaigns, such as polio.
Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D–Vermont) created this fund in 1989. Since then, the LWVF has provided more than $120 million to 26 countries in Central America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South Asia and Southeast Asia. Some of the nongovernmental organizations that received funds in 2006 or 2007 include The Polus Center for Social and Economic Development, Motivation, Handicap International, and UNICEF.
Point of Contact:
Lloyd Feinberg, Manager
Leahy War Victims Fund
U.S. Agency for International Development
Washington, D.C. 20523
Organization Profile: U.S. Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining Research & Development Program
Located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Program (HD R&D), hosted by the U.S. Army’s Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD), develops, tests, demonstrates, and approves technologies to improve the effectiveness and safety of humanitarian demining operations worldwide.
The HD R&D Program holds an annual requirements workshop for representatives from international mine-action centers and nongovernmental demining organizations. At this workshop, technology needs are identified and decisions concerning the following year’s development efforts are made based on subsequent in-country site assessments. Many of the NVESD technologies are also demonstrated at the workshop. All promising technologies undergo an operational field evaluation in a real minefield within a host nation. This allows the equipment to be evaluated based on how practical, appropriate, cost-effective, and efficient it is for eventual use by public and private demining entities.
The Handheld Standoff Mine Detection System (HSTAMIDS) is among the many technologies developed by the HD R&D program. HSTAMIDS combines a mine detector and ground-penetrating radar and, when used by properly trained operators, is able to detect all metallic and nonmetallic anti-vehicle and antipersonnel mines, distinguishing them from harmless metal clutter, which conventional metal detectors cannot achieve. HSTAMIDS, therefore, significantly decreases the time and cost for most clearance operations. Proven in action in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Iraq, and Thailand, HSTAMIDS is one of the most important technical developments in mine clearance since World War II.
Point of Contact:
Sean Burke, Program Manager
Department of the Army
10221 Burbeck Road
Fort Belvoir, Virginia 22060
Organization Profile: U.S. Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining Training Center
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Humanitarian Demining Training Center (HDTC) has operated since 1996 as a training and information center and as a fundamental element in the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) Program. Situated in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, the HDTC trains U.S. military personnel in demining techniques consistent with International Mine Action Standards. The goal of the training is to help mine-affected countries develop an effective, national HMA capacity.
Training conducted at the Center is groundbreaking and practical, and encompasses mine clearance, mine risk education, mine-action management, and the Information Management System for Mine Action. The HDTC is equipped with extensive, realistic training areas, a comprehensive assortment of inert landmines and explosive remnants of war, mine detectors, personal protective equipment, educational tools, as well as an up-to-date computer classroom for software instruction. The HDTC keeps up with current developments in landmine use and demining techniques by researching global tactics.
A typical training session includes simulated hazard areas, real-time application, and surveying. The Center teaches practical demining skills, as participants are put into situational exercises.
In addition to having trained more than 1,500 U.S. Special Operations Forces, who in turn provide comprehensive humanitarian mine action training to foreign military deminers via a “Train-the-Trainer” approach, the HDTC also trains other U.S. military, civilian and nongovernmental organizations in mine risk education and mine awareness.
The HDTC operates around four key priorities: relieve the plight of civilian populations, enhance regional stability, promote U.S. foreign policy interests, and improve economic development. These priorities are all tied to upholding the organization’s motto, “So That Others May Walk the Earth in Safety.”
Point of Contact:
Rodney Robideau, Director
Humanitarian Demining Training Center
Building 5415, FLW Hwy 38
Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri 65473-8926
Organization Profile: Organization of American States
The Organization of American States (OAS) strives to unite the 35 nations of the Western Hemisphere by being a multilateral forum focused on democratic values, common interests, and major issues facing the region and the rest of the world. In 1991, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua requested the assistance of the OAS in ridding their territories of landmines. The need to deal with this problem inspired the creation of the OAS Mine Action Program. Countries outside of the OAS also donate and contribute to the OAS Mine Action Program in an effort to alleviate this global threat. The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs channels a substantial portion of its funding for mine action in the Americas through the OAS.
The overarching objective of the OAS Mine Action Program is to liberate the Americas from the danger of landmines as well as to deliver mine risk education, survivors’ assistance, socioeconomic reintegration, and capacity development. Additionally, the OAS works with the assistance of the Inter-American Defense Board to develop management capability to international standards for demining programs in Latin America. The OAS solicits multiple international donors for Latin American humanitarian mine action funding as well as in-kind contributions.
Thanks to the work of the OAS, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and Suriname have completed demining and are considered free from the humanitarian impact of landmines (“impact free”).
Point of Contact:
Carlos J. Orozco, Acting Director
Office of Humanitarian Mine Action
1889 F Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20006
Organization Profile: Mine Action Information Center
Located on the campus of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, the Mine Action Information Center (MAIC) is a public-policy center that collects, maintains, and distributes information pertinent to humanitarian mine action. In 2006, the MAIC celebrated 10 years of playing a fundamental role in international efforts to combat the effects of landmines and explosive remnants of war.
The MAIC has worked with many clients to develop and execute projects concerning mine action efforts around the world. It produces the Journal of Mine Action, a semi-annual magazine that serves as an information resource for the mine action community. The MAIC also maintains a Web site, hosts workshops and conferences, conducts training courses, and engages in research on specific mine action topics.
In its decade-plus of operation, the MAIC has worked with many partner organizations, including the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of State, United Nations, International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance, Canadian Centre for Mine Action Technologies, and Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining.
Among the MAIC’s most recent projects are the Adaptive Technology Catalog (an electronic catalog of tools to help mine survivors return to a productive work life), a casualty data best-practices guidebook, and the development of survivor assistance training materials. The latter was produced in collaboration with the Polus Center for Social and Economic Development, facilitated by a grant from the State Department’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.
From 2004 to 2007, the MAIC conducted five sessions of the United Nations Development Program Senior Manager’s Course for mine-action professionals. Thus far, each session of the course has brought 19–26 senior-level, mine action managers to Harrisonburg for a five-week, cross-cultural and skills-based management training course. As of the end of 2007, the MAIC had trained 106 senior managers who work in 33 mine-affected countries around the world.
Point of Contact:
Dennis Barlow, Director
Mine Action Information Center
James Madison University
1401 Technology Drive, Suite 120
Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807
Organization Profile: Mine Detection Dog Center for Southeast Europe
he Mine Detection Dog Center for Southeast Europe is developing local capacity to train mine-detection dogs (MDD) for use throughout that region. Located in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the MDDC also provides mine risk education for children, and supports regional demining operations.
Since the MDDC opened in October 2003 with the support of the U.S. Department of State, around 50 MDDs and their handlers have been trained for a variety of organizations, which received MDDs from the Marshall Legacy Institute, including the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action, and BiH nongovernmental organizations Stop Mines, Pro Vita, Eko Dem and BH Demining.
In addition to mine and explosive-detection training, dogs and handlers have also been trained for narcotic searches, bomb/explosives detection, security, and search-and-rescue operations for local BiH police forces and the Bosnian Border Service. In 2006, MDDC was actively involved in supporting demining operations with their six MDD teams in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, and Croatia.
For the MDDC’s first three years of operation, the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs provided funding for the Center though the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance. At the end of 2006, the MDDC became financially self-sustaining thanks to its professional leadership.
The South East Europe Mine Action Coordination Council recognizes the MDDC as a Regional Center of Excellence.
Point of Contact:
Marija Alilovic, Public and Donor Relations Officer
Mine Detection Dog Center for South East Europe
Borci b.b., 88400 Konjic
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Organization Profile: International Trust Fund for Demining and Victim Assistance
The International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF) was established by the Slovenian government in 1998 to help Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) with its landmine problem, and to aid in the physical and socioeconomic rehabilitation of landmine survivors. The ITF’s activities expanded throughout the South-Eastern Europe (SEE) region and then to other mine-affected regions and countries, such as Cyprus, the South Caucasus, and Central Asia. In 2007, the ITF was also asked by mine-affected countries and donors to expand operations to collaborate on a mine survivors-assistance project in Vietnam in cooperation with Clear Path International and the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs. The ITF envisions freeing SEE from the landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) threat by 2010, and it is dedicated to the worldwide eradication of landmines and UXO. In 2006, thanks in part to funding from the United States and other donors to the ITF, Macedonia was freed from the humanitarian impact of landmines.
The ITF is a humanitarian, nonprofit organization that seeks donors from both the public and private sectors for mine action activities. These activities include mine clearance, survivor assistance, mine risk education, and training and capacity building. The ITF works with national governments and mine action centers to ensure the successful application and implementation of activities in local communities. The organization has cleared over 78 million square meters of land, made the rehabilitation of over 930 individuals possible, and raised more than US$215 million, with a $92 million United States’ contribution. The ITF is unique in that it doubles donors’ grants through a roughly $10 million annual matching fund mechanism supported by PM/WRA.
Point of Contact:
Goran Gacnik, Director
Zabrv 12 / 1292