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Diplomacy in Action

2009 To Walk the Earth in Safety: Mine Action Programs

Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
July 7, 2009


Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement

Logo:  Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.

The Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs creates local, regional, and international conditions conducive to peace, stability, and prosperity by curbing the illicit proliferation of conventional weapons of war, and removing and destroying others that remain and pose hazards after the cessation of armed conflict.

Founded in October 2003, PM/WRA develops, implements, and monitors policy programs and public-engagement efforts that contribute to the prevention and mitigation of conflict, as well as post-conflict social and economic recovery. The office’s focus is three-fold: curb the illicit trafficking and indiscriminate use of conventional weapons of war that fuel regional and internal instability; pursue and help manage post-conflict cleanup of such weapons in areas needed for civilian use; and engage civil society to broaden support for U.S. efforts to enhance American influence abroad. In 2008, PM/WRA worked with a number of countries to improve the security of ammunition depots to prevent uncontrolled detonations and loss of life.

PM/WRA provides grants for many humanitarian and research projects. For instance, it recently provided a grant to the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery to research the effects of environment and age on landmines in Cambodia to better inform field clearance prioritization, mine-risk education techniques, and innovative R&D. Another grant helps Vietnamese farmers who have been injured by landmines to grow crops like mushrooms that will provide income while requiring much less physical labor.

PM/WRA’s Public-Private Partnership program includes over 60 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and corporations, and enlists civil-society support for humanitarian mine action and related conflict-prevention and peace-building efforts. Other U.S. agencies, NGOs, international organizations, and private enterprises also work closely with PM/WRA to help 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 USA
Telephone: +1 202 663 0100
Facsimile: +1 202 663 0090
Web site:

U.S. Agency for International Development’s Leahy War Victims Fund

Logo: U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

Established by Senator Patrick J. Leahy (D–Vermont), USAID’s Leahy War Victims Fund (LWVF) has dedicated 20 years to the advancement of civilian victims of conflict in war-affected developing countries around the world. Specifically, the LWVF aids those requiring assistance due to mobility-related injuries from unexploded ordnance (UXO) and antipersonnel landmines. The LWVF also provides aid for other direct and indirect causes of disability, such as preventable diseases that might result from interrupted immunization campaigns. The fund provides an average of $12 million annually and works to expand access to affordable, appropriate prosthetics and orthotic services.

Barrier-free access to school, work, and recreation is part of the LWVF’s mission to help civilian war victims and people with disabilities. For instance, through LWVF and Mercy Corps, Colombians with disabilities will have access to new rehabilitation centers in Narino and Caqueta, as well as new opportunities to attend school and enjoy meaningful employment. While LWVF funding is primarily used for prosthetics and orthotics, other activities including training, economic strengthening, policy and advocacy, and the provision of wheelchairs have been introduced.

Since 1989, the LWVF has provided more than $140 million to 26 countries in Central America, sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. The Polus Center for Social and Economic Development, the international disability and development charity Motivation, Handicap International, and the International Committee of the Red Cross are among the many nongovernmental organizations receiving support from the fund.

Point of Contact:
Lloyd Feinberg, Manager
Leahy War Victims Fund
U.S. Agency for International Development
Washington, D.C. 20523 USA
Telephone: +1 202 712 5725
Web site:

Regional Centre on Small Arms and Light Weapons

Logo: Regional Centre on Small Arms.The Regional Centre on Small Arms and Light Weapons (RECSA) is an institutional framework arising from the Nairobi Declaration to coordinate the joint effort by national focal points in member states to prevent, combat, and eradicate stockpiling and illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa, as well as bordering states. The Nairobi Declaration on the Problem of Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons was signed on March 15, 2000 by representatives from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, and the United Republic of Tanzania. The declaration and the Nairobi Protocol (a legally binding instrument) address the growing international concern that the easy availability of illicit small arms and light weapons escalates conflicts and undermines political stability, creating devastating impacts on human and state security.

RECSA aims at enhancing regional cooperation and coordination in the region. The overall goal for RECSA and member states is to make the region safe for its citizenry. This will create an environment that is conducive to development, which in turn will improve the welfare of the people. To fulfill its objectives, RECSA focuses on seven key areas for action: institutional framework; regional cooperation and coordination; legislative measures; operational and capacity building; control, seizures, forfeiture, distribution, collection and destruction; information exchange and record keeping; and public awareness.

RECSA nations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region to implement programs in four additional countries—Angola, Central African Republic, Zambia, and Republic of Congo. The Regional Centre on Small Arms enjoys the goodwill of various development partners that continue to provide financial resources for the implementation of the Nairobi Declaration.

Point of Contact:
Dr. Francis K. Sang
Executive Secretary
PO Box 7039-00200
Telephone: + 254 020 3877456 / 3876203 / 3876023
Facsimile: + 254 020 3877397
Web site:

U.S. Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Program

Logo: Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Program (HD R&D).The Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Program (HD R&D), located at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, develops technology to meet the challenges faced by deminers in mine detection, area reduction, vegetation clearance, mechanical mine clearance, and mine neutralization.

Executed by the U.S. Army’s Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD), the HD R&D Program holds an annual requirements workshop for representatives from worldwide mine-action centers and nongovernmental demining organizations. This meeting highlights technology needs and reviews subsequent in-country site assessments to decide on the following year’s development strategies. Demonstrations of NVESD technologies are also conducted throughout the workshop which leads to the HD R&D Program’s most important project, Field Evaluations. These evaluations allow potential technologies to undergo operational testing in actual minefields in a host nation. On average, the program fields 25 technologies for operational field evaluations in 10 countries worldwide.

One of these technologies, the Mine Stalker, is a remote-controlled vehicle-mounted ground-penetrating radar (GPR) designed to detect low metallic anti-tank mines on roads. The GPR uses sophisticated algorithms to detect mines and distinguish these mines from clutter. It is mounted on a commercial, off-the-shelf Landtamer 6x6 all-terrain vehicle, and incorporates an automatic stop capability and a physical marking system. In 2008, the Mine Stalker system completed a successful evaluation on anti-tank mines in Cambodia. A modified version of the Mine Stalker system will undergo an operational field evaluation with The HALO Trust in Angola in 2009.

Point of Contact:
Sean Burke, Program Manager
Department of the Army
10221 Burbeck Road
Fort Belvoir, Virginia 22060 USA
Telephone: +1 703 704 1047
Facsimile: +1 703 704 3001
Web site:

U.S. Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining Training Center

Logo: U.S. Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining Training Center (HDTC).

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 of the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action (HMA) Program. Located at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, the HDTC trains U.S. military personnel in all levels of mine action. 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, metal detectors, personal protection equipment, educational tools, and a computer classroom for software instruction.

A typical training session includes simulated hazard areas, real-time application, and surveying. The Center has taught practical demining skills to more than 1,600 U.S. military service people. It has also trained members of U.S. civilian and nongovernmental organizations in mine-risk education and mine-action awareness; these participants in turn provide comprehensive HMA training to foreign military deminers using a “train the trainer” approach.

The HDTC operates around four key priorities: relieve the plight of civilian populations, enhance regional stability, promote U.S. policy interests, and improve economic developments. These priorities are all tied to upholding the organization’s motto, “So that Others May Walk the Earth in Safety.”

Point of Contact:
Angel L. Belen, Deputy Director
U.S. Department of Defense
Defense Security Cooperation Agency
Humanitarian Demining Training Center
Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri 65473 USA
Telephone: +1 573 563 6199
Facsimile: +1 573 563 5051
Web site:

Center for International Stabilization and Recovery

Logo: Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR)
Logo: Mine Action Information Center (MAIC).
Located on the campus of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, the Center for International Stabilization and Recovery (CISR), which includes the Mine Action Information Center (MAIC), is a public-policy center that serves organizations and individuals on the front lines of humanitarian crises and post-conflict environments by providing objective, reliable, and cost-effective research, training, communication, and outreach services.

The Center for International Stabilization and Recovery expands on the 13-year commitment of the MAIC, focusing on activities to help victims of conflict and disasters return to stable and productive lives.

Clients hire CISR to develop and execute projects concerning mine-action and stabilization efforts around the world. One of the Center’s products is the Journal of ERW and Mine Action, the premiere information resource for the mine-action community. CISR also maintains several Web sites, conducts workshops and conferences, develops and leads training courses, provides Web services, and engages in research on specific post-conflict topics.

Funded by a grant from the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State, one of the Center’s most recent projects, the Landmine Casualty Data: Best Practices Guidebook, is designed to assist people trying to create a mine/ERW victim information system or enhance an existing system. Working with Jordan’s National Committee for Demining and Rehabilitation and a local nongovernmental organization, CISR has also helped develop a mine-risk education play that is being presented in northern Jordan.

Thus far, the Center has conducted five sessions of the United Nations Development Programme’s Senior Managers Course for mine-action professionals (2004–07), training 106 senior managers from 33 mine-affected countries around the world in an easily adaptable five-week, cross-cultural, and skills-based management training course.

Point of Contact:
Dennis Barlow, Director
Center for International Stabilization and Recovery
James Madison University
MSC 4902
1401 Technology Drive
Suite 120, Room 1153
Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807 USA
Telephone: +1 540 568 2756
Facsimile: +1 540 568 8176
Web site: or

International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance

Logo: International Trust Fund for Demining and Victim Assistance (ITF).The International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance is a humanitarian, nonprofit organization committed to eradicating landmines located in South-Eastern Europe (SEE). Also known as ITF, the organization was originally established by the Slovenian government in 1998 to aid Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) with its landmine problem, and to assist in the physical and socioeconomic rehabilitation of landmine survivors. After considerable success in BiH, the ITF expanded operations to numerous other countries.

The ITF raises funds and administers the donations of public and private donors for different mine-action activities, including mine-clearance, survivor-assistance, mine-risk education, and training and capacity building. It is unique in that it doubles donors’ grants through a dollar-for-dollar matching-fund mechanism, supported by the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State.

Working with mine-action centers and national governments to ensure the successful application and implementation of activities in local communities, the ITF has cleared over 92 million square meters of land and provided the means for rehabilitation of almost 1,000 individuals. Promoting regional cooperation is vital to the operations of ITF, allowing the countries of SEE to address concerns more efficiently and cost-effectively by helping each other succeed in their overall objective of mine-impact free land. In 2007, the ITF signed a Memorandum of Understanding with United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) which defined the areas of mine-action activities in which UNMAS and ITF will be cooperating. The ITF envisions freeing SEE from the landmine and unexploded ordnance threat by 2015.

Point of Contact:
Goran Gacnik, Director
Zabrv 12 / 1292
Telephone: +386 1 479 6585
Facsimile: +386 1 479 6590
Web site:

U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency

Logo: Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).The Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA) Small Arms and Light Weapons (SA/LW) Program aims to reduce proliferation by assisting foreign governments with improving security, safety, and management of state-controlled stockpiles of man portable air-defense systems (MANPADS), other SA/LW, and conventional ammunition.

Teams of DTRA experts provide foreign governments with assessments and technical advice as well as orientations to international best practices for the physical security and stockpile management of SA/LW.

By securing and managing these assets, DTRA’s efforts decrease the availability of weapons and ammunition to terrorists and insurgents, reduce regional exposure to destabilizing cross-border weapons transfers, and reduce the risk of catastrophic ammunition accidents.

DTRA first became involved in SA/LW elimination in 2001, providing technical expertise to the Department of State at the request of the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. Since then, DTRA has conducted MANPADS and SA/LW physical security and stockpile management assistance operations in over 40 countries in South and Central America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. DTRA has also facilitated the execution of U.S. bilateral and multilateral commitments by providing expert teams on international assessments and seminars of government-owned stockpiles of MANPADS and other weapons of concern.

DTRA safeguards America and its allies from weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high explosives) by providing capabilities to reduce, eliminate, and counter the threat, and mitigate their effects.

Point of Contact:
Defense Threat Reduction Agency
DTRA Public Affairs
8725 John J. Kingman Road, Stop 6201
Fort Belvoir, Virginia 22060-6201 USA
Telephone: +1 800 701 5096
Web site:

Mine Detection Dog Center for South East Europe

Logo: Mine Detection Dog Center for Southeast Europe (MDDC).Funded by the United States Depar tment of State and endorsed by the South-Eastern Europe Mine Action Coordination Council (SEEMACC), the Mine Detection Dog Center for South East Europe (MDDC) is located in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), at the former Territorial Defense Center in Borci village. Opening in October 2003, MDDC relied entirely on funding from the U.S. government for the first three years and is now fully self-sustaining.

The MDDC develops local capacity to train mine-detection dogs (MDDs) while also providing mine-risk education for children and supporting regional demining operations. Since the Center’s founding, more than 100 MDDs and their handlers have been trained for a variety of organizations, including the Azerbaijan National Agency for Mine Action, Lebanon Mine Action Center and the BiH nongovernmental organizations Stop Mines, Pro Vita, Eko Dem and BH Demining, as well as the governmental agencies for Civil Protection and BiH Armed Forces.

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 supported demining operations with six MDD teams in Albania, BiH, Croatia, Kosovo, and Serbia. In 2007 and 2008, the MDDC continued its demining operations in the regions of southeast Europe and Iraq.

The MDDC has also developed a mine-risk education program for rural children ages nine to 13. The project’s immediate goal is to prevent new youth mine and unexploded ordinance (UXO) victims, create a safe environment for children attending schools near minefields, and motivate the children to become aware of mine dangers through MDD demonstrations.

In 2008, MDDC engaged in activities primarily aimed at training mine-detection dogs for demining programs in Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Lebanon, and supported demining efforts throughout the region and beyond. It is recognized as a Regional Center of Excellence by the South-Eastern Europe Mine Action Coordination Council.

Point of Contact:
Marija Trlin, Public and Donor Relations Officer
Mine Detection Dog Center for South East Europe
Borci b.b., 88400 Konjic
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Telephone: +387 36 739 860
Web site:

Organization of American States

Logo: Organization of American States (OAS).The Organization of American States (OAS) brings together the nations of the Western Hemisphere to strengthen cooperation on democratic values, defend common interests and debate the major issues facing the region and the world. As the region’s principal multilateral forum for strengthening democracy, promoting human rights, and confronting shared problems such as poverty, terrorism, illegal drugs, and corruption, the OAS also plays a leading role in carrying out mandates established during the Summits of the Americas.

Since 1991, the OAS has coordinated a comprehensive mine-action program that has cleared over 60,000 antipersonnel landmines from areas affected by conflict, assisted the physical and psychological rehabilitation of more than 1,200 landmine survivors, provided mine-risk education to nearly 500,000 people living in mine-affected communities, and destroyed more than a million stockpiled mines. Program activities emphasize development of national demining capacity through multilateral and civil-military cooperation, as well as the provision of logistical support, equipment, and training to affected countries. The Inter-American Defense Board provides technical support to the OAS and ensures national compliance with international standards for demining. The OAS program is made possible by both financial and in-kind contributions from the international community.

With support from the United States, four member states—Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Suriname—have completed their demining programs and are considered landmine-safe. Humanitarian demining operations continue with OAS support in Colombia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Peru.

Point of Contact:
Carl E. Case, Director
Office of Humanitarian Mine Action
1889 F Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20006 USA
Telephone: +1 202 458 3631
Web site:

Iraq Mine & UXO Clearance Organization

Logo: Iraq Mine and UXO Clearance Organization (IMCO).The Iraq Mine & UXO Clearance Organization (IMCO), based in the Green Zone of Baghdad, Iraq, was established in September 2003 with funding and assistance from the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) in the U.S. Department of State. IMCO is entirely staffed with native Iraqis and is the first indigenous nongovernmental (NGO) humanitarian-demining organization. Its staff is comprised of people from all ethnic, religious, and sectarian groups, and it works with local leaders and communities to educate and eliminate the landmine/unexploded ordnance (UXO) problem.

IMCO was funded as a subcontractor to RONCO Consulting Corporation under a grant from PM/WRA until August 2008. Through 2009, RONCO will continue to provide technical assistance to the relatively young NGO. IMCO continues with a full schedule of weapons-destruction projects along with development/reconstruction projects like the reparation of the al-Rumaila oilfields and the al-Zubair area. IMCO’s Small Arms/Light Weapons (SA/LW) Destruction Team destroyed its 10,000th weapon in November 2008. The SA/LW team, established in September 2008, works to ensure that weapons no longer needed are destroyed. Destruction techniques include using a mechanical shear machine, plasma cutting, and rotary metal cutting.

In FY2008, PM/WRA granted $117,865 to IMCO to destroy stockpiles of small arms and light weapons, which are predominately stored in Baghdad. It is also working on three humanitarian projects in the governorates of al-Kut, al-Muthanna, and Babylon while continuing demining activities around the country.

Point of Contact:
Zahim J. Mutar, Director
Iraq Mine & UXO Clearance Organization
Telephone: +964 7901 919 836
E-mail: or
Web site:

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