Risk Management in Mine Action

  • Version
    Ed. 1
  • Latest amendment
    04 Feb 2019

Managing risk is fundamental to every aspect of mine action. Not just in the most obvious ways of keeping staff safe and ensuring that released land is safe for end-users, but in relation to every decision that mine action managers and other staff take: Which projects and programmes to support, who to hire, how to train people, what equipment to buy, how to maintain relationships with stakeholders, which tasks to prioritise, and how to manage quality and environmental aspects of mine action operations. A starting point for effective risk management is awareness of its importance and constant association with everything that mine action managers do every day. This standard seeks both to raise awareness and equip mine action managers with the tools they need to identify, assess, control and review risk within their many different areas of responsibility. Annex B to this standard includes guidance on the use of a range of risk identification, assessment and analysis tools.


In the ISO system, risk is defined as ‘the effect of uncertainty on objectives’ where there is uncertainty there is risk. Conversely, where there is knowledge there is confidence, and uncertainty and risk are reduced. The definition indicates the most important way to reduce risk - through the collection, analysis and sharing of information. Good information management is fundamental to effective risk management.


The principles and processes described in this IMAS are applicable to any situation in which mine action managers must take decisions about achieving objectives, satisfying requirements, releasing land and retaining stakeholder confidence. In some specific situations aspects of risk management are dictated by existing documented sources. Of these the most significant relate to the requirements of international treaties – the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC), the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) and Protocol V of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). Questions of tolerability of residual risk are directly addressed in the relevant text and provide a clear basis upon which mine action managers must work. The treaties form part of the surrounding environment that mine action managers must consider when establishing effective risk management systems.


Risk management, like most other management systems, is not in itself complicated or difficult to do (although in larger organisations a risk management system may become widespread and demand a high level of management attention). It relies upon the repeated application of simple principles and processes, consistently and comprehensively, at every level within an organisation. Other management aspects within the IMAS system, including quality, safety, occupational health, environmental management and information management all represent the application of basic risk management principles and processes. Effective and efficient managers, whatever their area of responsibility, will also be effective and efficient risk managers.


The IMAS system provides a basis for the development of national mine action standards (NMAS), but they may also be used as standalone standards in their own right and provide input to help mine action organisations develop their own policies, processes and procedures. The guidance provided in this standard is applicable to all mine action organisations, at every level.


Prevailing circumstances and conditions determine both the scope and speed of response that any risk management system must exhibit if it is to remain effective. Fast changing circumstances (such as those associated with some situations where improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are present) demand risk management systems that can adapt, update and evolve very quickly. Others may remain adequate for longer periods without the need for substantial changes. In every case a risk management system only remains effective if it is reviewed and updated often enough to ensure that it reflects significant changes in the surrounding circumstances as and when they occur.


This standard aims to provide mine action managers, at every level, with the guidance they need to identify and manage the risks associated with their work and responsibilities. It draws on the guidance provided in ISO 31000 Risk Management – Guidelines adapting them to reflect the nature of the mine action sector.


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For a complete and-up-to-date IMAS please refer to the IMAS in English.