The global effort to address contamination from Explosive Ordnance (EO) has invested significant resources in locating and destroying EO and ensuring that previously contaminated land and infrastructure can be released for the benefit of communities. To ensure that these considerable resources are used wisely on the one hand, and that populations can use land safely on the other, the concept of “All Reasonable Effort” (ARE) has been developed within the IMAS framework.
The concept of ARE therefore identifies the need for efforts guided by a reasoned approach to be taken by states affected by EO, which is based on evidence. Such an approach ensures that contamination is identified and cleared without wasting time and precious resources. For States Parties to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the Convention on Cluster Munitions or the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, using the concept of ARE does not modify in any way the obligations under those conventions , but provides technical guidance that may assist states in the application of those obligations. ARE highlights the fact that there is a required investment of time and resources to reach the necessary level of confidence that EO has been identified and removed, which is defined as the “minimum acceptable level of effort” in IMAS 04.10 . The challenge faced by National Mine Action Authorities (NMAAs) is to practically define the acceptable level of effort that must be made, according to their local context, through their National Mine Action Standards (NMAS) and in compliance with any international obligations that may apply.
In keeping with IMAS guidance, NMAS should establish the evidence-based process that frames ARE and ensures that an area, a defined portion of the country, and eventually the country, no longer contains known EO contamination. The NMAS should lay out the criteria and parameters that constitute ARE for each aspect of Land Release (LR), including what should be done in order to achieve the desired level of confidence that cancelled, reduced and cleared land is free of EO contamination within specified limits. For example, when looking at the steps involved in the Non-Technical Survey (NTS) and Technical Survey (TS), the criteria for cancelling or reducing land should be specifically and clearly described. Similarly, the NMAS chapter that describes `clearance` should determine a minimum clearance depth and minimum target size. These criteria should be developed by NMAAs and agreed upon, in a consultative manner, with mine action operators, local authorities, communities and other relevant stakeholders.
The LR process and its management, as described within the IMAS , is therefore the roadmap for ensuring that ARE is applied within each component of operations, NTS, TS and clearance. This road map must be based on the foundations of good practice in mine action programmes, including established risk management, Information Management (IM), and Quality Management Systems (QMS). These various components of mine action programmes must be integrated into NMAS in order to achieve ARE.
It is important to remember, however, that even when EO-affected states invest appropriate resources and apply ARE to eliminate their EO problems, there is always a residual risk that EO remains . The fact that information is not always accurate means that residual contamination will often persist after proactive efforts to find and eliminate all hazards are completed. For this reason, a long-term risk management strategy and framework is also essential to the concept of ARE.
The following TNMA will review the key elements that are necessary to ensuring that ARE is being applied (including a checklist that summarises these elements). The concept of ARE can be considered as the application of the sum of the guidance available in the IMAS, therefore this TNMA aims to point the reader towards those elements within the many IMAS chapters that are the most important concepts and key elements for mine action managers to consider when developing and reviewing their NMAS to achieve ARE.
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