Norway’s engagement in global mine clearance

18 September 2017 marked the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Mine Ban Treaty in Oslo, and 1 March 2019 will mark the 20th anniversary of its entry into force.

Norway is one of the five largest donors to mine clearance efforts, together with the US, Japan, the EU and the Netherlands. Our high level of engagement is based on our obligations under the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the importance we attach to mine clearance as a humanitarian concern, and our partnership with Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), which is one of the three largest humanitarian mine clearance organisations in the world.

Norway’s main focus is on humanitarian mine clearance to protect civilians. This means that our funding is channelled through humanitarian organisations. We work in direct partnership with mine clearance operators at country level. This year we are supporting efforts in a total of 19 countries through the Halo Trust (Afghanistan, Ukraine, and Colombia), the Mines Advisory Group (Iraq, Syria, Laos, and Lebanon) and Norwegian People’s Aid (in 18 countries).

A great deal has been achieved in the field of mine clearance over the past 20 years. However, in the conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Eastern Ukraine and Yemen, we have seen renewed use of banned land mines and cluster munitions.

During the course of 2016, new, large-scale mine clearance operations were launched in Colombia and Iraq.

An increasing proportion of Norway’s funding is directed to mine clearance activities in parts of Iraq and Syria that have been liberated from Isil. This work includes identifying hazardous areas, training the local population in risk management, and clearing mines and explosives to make it possible for internally displaced people to return.

The parts of Iraq and Syria that have been liberated from Isil pose particular challenges for international mine clearance operators. The number of civilian victims is particularly high due to the widespread use of homemade explosives. A long-term commitment on the part of donors and close coordination of international efforts are essential to the success of mine clearance activities in these areas.