Mine clearance is one of the five core components of mine action. In its broad sense, it includes surveys, mapping and minefield marking, as well as the actual clearance of mines from the ground. This range of activities is often referred to as "demining".
There are two types of mine clearance: military and humanitarian. Military mine clearance is the process undertaken by soldiers to clear a safe path so they can advance during conflict. In this case, mines are only cleared if they block strategic pathways required in the advance or retreat of soldiers at war. Humanitarian mine clearance is very different. It aims to clear land so that civilians can return to their homes and their everyday routines without the threat of explosive hazards. The aim of humanitarian demining is to restore peace and security at the community level.
Mine Risk Education
Mine Risk Education (MRE) refers to educational activities aimed at reducing the risk of injury from mines and unexploded ordnance by raising awareness and promoting behavioural change through public-information campaigns, education and training, and liaison with communities.
MRE ensures that communities are aware of these risks and are encouraged to behave in ways that reduce the risk to people, property and the environment. Objectives are to reduce the risk to a level where people can live safely and to recreate an environment where economic and social development can occur free from the constraints imposed by explosive hazard contamination.
Providing victim assistance is a core component of mine action and an obligation of States Parties under the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention. Article Six of the Convention states that "Each State Party in a position to do so shall provide assistance for the care and rehabilitation, and social and economic reintegration, of mine victims and for mine awareness programmes."
Assistance is provided through a number of concrete actions to meet the immediate and long-term needs of mine accident survivors, their families, mine-affected communities and persons with disabilities. Assistance includes, but is not limited to, emergency and continuing medical care; physical rehabilitation; psychosocial support and social inclusion; and laws and public policies that promote effective treatment, care and protection for all disabled citizens.
The United Nations advocates for universal participation in existing international agreements or "instruments" that ban or limit the use of landmines. To monitor the status of treaty implementation, the United Nations participates in and supports regular meetings of treaty member countries or “state parties” to the treaty.
The first and most important of these agreements is the antipersonnel mine-ban treaty, which opened for signature in 1997. Equally important is the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons which focuses on the use of booby-traps and anti-tank and anti-vehicle mines. The United Nations provides technical and expert advice to meetings of the state parties and helps build national capacities to implement these instruments.
Stockpiled landmines outnumber those actually laid in the ground. In accordance with Article 4 of the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention, State Parties must destroy their stockpiled mines within four years after their accession to the Convention. Sixty-five countries have now destroyed their stockpiles of antipersonnel landmines, destroying a combined total of more than 37 million mines. Other fifty-one countries have officially declared not having a stockpile of anti-personnel mines and a further three countries are scheduled to destroy their stockpiles by the end of the year.
UNMAS provides technical support to aid the destruction of stockpiled explosive hazards. Inadequately managed conventional ammunition stockpiles threaten public safety and pose a risk to the security of States. UNMAS also assists in proper storage and inspection. These projects are commonly known as weapons and ammunition management (WAM).