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1997 Mine Clearance Standards

Note: The 1997 International Standards for Humanitarian Mine Clearance Operations listed below are no longer in force as of October 1, 2001. They have been superseded by the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS). The 1997 Standards remain posted here for their historical value and to allow comparison with the new IMAS.


The continuing humanitarian disaster caused by the vast number of landmines and unexploded ordnance littered throughout more than sixty countries has, in recent years, created an active and growing response from the international community that could eventually lead to the elimination of the use of landmines.  In the meantime the international community continues to struggle with the removal of the millions of mines that threaten vast areas of many countries, causing injuries and fatalities that threaten the fragile existence of families within the community.

The deployment of both anti-tank and anti-personnel landmines has caused incalculable human devastation and suffering to an increasing number of non-combatants, largely women and children. Landmines have also resulted in large tracts of valuable and sustainable agricultural land lying fallow, causing serious economic problems for regions and individual communities.  The economic pressure this causes further threatens the rural populations who will eventually have no alternative but to brave the danger in order to scratch a living from the explosively contaminated ground.  Fragile peace agreements and reconciliation efforts, always under pressure during the initial phases of political attempts to establish lasting peace, are further impacted by the mine contamination.  Expensive treatment for mine-related accidents increases the pressure on health systems that are often barely functional and the costs for survivors in treatment and rehabilitation continue to rise.  The traumatic effect that these injuries and fatalities have on the population is immense and is one of the most disturbing aspects for personnel involved in humanitarian relief efforts.

The international community has been addressing, with increasing emphasis, this man-made disaster with a greater financial commitment, creating more international demining organisations and establishing an indigenous mine clearance capacity.  Humanitarian demining was initially based on military methods and standards. However, as the humanitarian demining scenario has developed and changed there has been an increasing requirement to establish a coordinated approach to humanitarian demining standards.  In June 1996, the Government of Denmark initiated a forum for the discussion of demining standards and technology which pioneered the groundwork for the development of the international standards.  Their innovation, resulting in the production of these standards, should greatly increase donor confidence, the efficiency and effectiveness of demining operations and, more importantly, improve safety for the deminers who are involved in the hazardous task of removing the cause of so much suffering, hardship and strife.

1997 Mine Clearance Standards

These international standards for humanitarian mine clearance operations are issued under the auspices of the United Nations and are effective upon receipt. Other standards, such as those issued by the host nation are to be complied with provided they match or exceed those set out in these documents, otherwise, these international standards will apply.

The standards provide a framework for the creation of Standing Operating Procedures (SOPs), which in turn detail the manner in which specific mine clearance operations are conducted.  The SOPs should take into account the cultural, environmental and operational variations between countries and, therefore, procedures should be amended accordingly.

Examples of SOPs and guideline documents are included to facilitate application. Standards will be regularly reviewed and updated by the United Nations.  The latest version of the standards can be obtained from the Mine Clearance Policy Unit, DHA, United Nations, New York, NY 10017, USA. Telephone (212) 963-4632; Fax (212) 963-1040 or E-mail cassidy(at)un.org. Comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

Section n° Title Format, Size
1 SafetyPDF, 117KB
2 Training and Qualifications  PDF, 87KB
3 Survey PDF, 187KB
4 Minefield Marking  PDF, 47KB
5 Minefield Clearance Operations PDF, 110KB
6 Explosive Ordnance Disposal PDF, 56KB
7 Medical PDF, 157KB
8 Communication PDF, 49KB
9 Minefield Information Management PDF, 100KB
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