The general principles and requirements for the establishment of mine action programmes are covered in IMAS 02.10. This Guide focuses on the management requirements for technical operations, including the land release of Explosive Ordnance (EO), including those associated with residual risk.
Land release is the process of applying all reasonable effort to identify, define, and remove all presence and suspicion of mines/ERW through non-technical survey, technical survey and/or clearance. The criteria for “all reasonable effort” shall be defined by the national mine action authority. This is achieved by developing and applying appropriate policies and management processes, by establishing and continuously improving the skills of management and field staff, by obtaining accurate and timely information on EO hazards, by applying safe and effective operational procedures, and by using appropriate and efficient equipment.
The land release process (the requirements for which are set out in detail in IMAS 07.11, 08.10 and 08.20), as well as systems and processes developed to deal with residual contamination are essentially ones of risk management: specific risks, presented by EO of all types, are identified, assessed and treated/mitigated where it is necessary to do so. The suitability, effectiveness and efficiency of the land release process are reviewed at various stages to check that all relevant risks are being adequately managed.
All effective risk management is founded on access to appropriate information management systems to help understand the operational context and to support the assessment, mitigation and review of risks as they are managed. Risk is defined within the ISO system as ‘the effect of uncertainty’. A key part of the management of land release is to reduce uncertainty through the collection, storage, analysis and dissemination of data and information. Similarly, a key component of effectively managing residual risk is to reduce uncertainty by drawing on, analysing and utilising historical data and information in decision making.
Land release operations are carried out by many different types of organisations, such as NGOs, commercial companies, national mine action teams or military units (when carrying out humanitarian demining or ERW remediation). It may be a humanitarian emergency intervention, or it may form part of a development programme where emphasis will be given to establishing a national mine action capacity. Work may take place under a wide variety of circumstances, including ones where political, security and technical aspects are changing rapidly and often, requiring nimble, speedy and responsive decision-making and management action if operations are to remain safe, efficient and effective.
Management is not just about planning and supervising current tasks. It is about continually reviewing current practices and procedures to improve safety, effectiveness and efficiency and ensuring a constant link between land release operations and the mine affected communities.
Mine action programmes rarely have the capacity to deal with the entirety of all forms of contamination in an affected country within a short timescale. Instead authorities and managers prioritize action reflecting the scale and nature of the risks to people, assets and wider emergency, reconstruction and development programmes. Over time, most national programmes scale up as circumstances allow, and then reduce again as the range and severity of risk reduces and becomes less widespread. Managing changes in the scale, scope and nature of programmes is an important function of a mine action authority, and of the agencies and organisations working within a national programme. As time passes and once the land release process has been applied, most countries find themselves dealing with a residual contamination problem. Planning and preparing for a smooth and efficient transition to an alternative institutional architecture appropriate for the management of residual contamination, including the development of appropriate tools and systems for residual risk management, are responsibilities that need to be addressed early in the life of the mine action programme to ensure that the correct information is systematically recorded for this purpose.
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