Landmines, unexploded ordnance and booby traps kill or maim thousands of people around the world each year. In recent years, global demand for the clearance of mines and other explosive remnants of war has risen sharply, also due to the massive use of improvised explosive devices by the so-called Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Often, these weapons are used to explicitly target the civilian population. They pose a threat to life and limb, prevent the safe return of internally displaced persons and refugees, and impede the delivery of humanitarian assistance and stabilisation measures.
The motto of the Conference on Humanitarian Mine and Ordnance Clearance on 18 September in Berlin is “creating a world free of mines and explosive remnants of war”. The conference will include partner organisations of the Federal Foreign Office in the domain of humanitarian mine and ordnance clearance, who will participate in discussions focusing on the recently revised Federal Foreign Office Humanitarian Mine Action Strategy 2019-2021.
At the invitation of Rüdiger König, Director-General at the Federal Foreign Office for Crisis Prevention, Stabilisation, Post-Conflict Peacebuilding and Humanitarian Assistance, the keynote speaker will be Agnès Marcaillou, Director of UNMAS (United Nations Mine Action Service). In 2017, the German Government was UNMAS’ largest donor. Other participants include the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and non-governmental organisations and institutions that have special expertise in this domain, for example the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).
Germany is engaged around the world on the prohibition of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions. For more than 25 years, the German Government has been helping to fund humanitarian mine and ordnance clearance. It is one of the largest international donors – in 2017, Germany provided funds to the tune of 30 million euros to awareness-raising projects, clearance efforts and programmes that give support to victims, with this aid being spread across 13 countries and regions. The countries prioritised include Afghanistan and Ukraine. Furthermore, as part of stabilisation efforts, an additional 45 million euros were spent on the clearance of improvised explosive devices, as well as on knowledge and capacity building, especially in Iraq. Germany’s support aims to enable the affected countries to meet their obligations under international law, specifically those under the Ottawa Treaty (the mine-ban convention), the Oslo Convention (convention on cluster munitions) and the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.