Many lessons learned in past year of demining activities UN reports

The United Nations has learned important lessons in the recent months relating to its efforts to deal with the impact of landmines, allowing the world body to take a more systematic approach to the problem, according to a new report released today at UN Headquarters in New York.“The experience of the past year has demonstrated the value of having a specific road map, where progress can be measured against clear objectives,” states the report, which examines the first 12 months of the five-year Mine Action Strategy submitted to the General Assembly in 2001.According to the report, the importance of prioritizing clearance work and achieving the most cost-effective solutions has been reaffirmed. In addition, there has been wider recognition of the value of mine-affected countries undertaking a landmine impact survey tailored to specific needs. “The development of a national mine-action strategy and plan becomes an objective, and not a subjective exercise, once such a survey has been completed and its results analyzed,” the report says.The report also says it is necessary to build further on the work started by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining on the cost benefits of mine action. “While the social benefits of mine clearance are unquestioned, simple cost-benefit analysis has been shown, in a number of contexts, to be a practical way of measuring the purely economic benefits of clearing mines,” the report points out.Stressing that demining activities do not take place in isolation, the report suggests that mine-action organizations reach out and integrate their work into humanitarian and development programmes. “Several steps in this direction have been made in the past year and more efforts are needed to build partnerships with relevant organizations, including the World Bank and other development lending institutions,” the report urges.Meanwhile, it notes that in a number of countries, the planned transition of mine-action activities to national responsibility has been hampered by the inability of some donors to continue funding programmes. In many cases the governments have been unable to absorb the costs, according to the report, which suggests that the question of transition strategies be given further attention.

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