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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 19, October 1997

UK Action-Plan on Landmines

'George Robertson pledges action on landmines,' UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) News Release 147/97, 21 October 1997

Full text

"George Robertson, Secretary of State for Defence, today declared a major offensive against the scourge of landmines worldwide.

Mr Robertson, on a visit to a minefield in Mostar, Bosnia, unveiled a five-point plan under which the UK Ministry of Defence will collate information, assess equipment and train and advise organisations to go out and deal with landmines on the ground.

Mr Robertson said: 'The British Army has developed considerable experience in post-conflict mine clearance in recent years and has given assistance to those involved in humanitarian demining. I believe it should do more, so that the technology and skills developed for defence purposes are more readily available to the many organisations and individuals tackling this major humanitarian problem.'

The Secretary of State gave details of his five point plan:-

  • A Mine Information and Training Centre is to be established at the School for Military Engineering at Minley in Surrey. The centre, which will open early next year, will become a one-stop shop for guidance and information on counter-mine measures to other government departments, non-governmental organisations, aid agencies, academia and industry to assist those who are tackling the issue of humanitarian demining across the globe.
  • A new military post has been established within the MOD to lead a coordination group within the Department to provide the necessary focus and expertise in dealing with landmines.
  • The MOD's Research and Trials Organisation at Chertsey will examine the suitability of commercial off-the-shelf equipment that might be used for humanitarian demining. The results of this research will be made widely available.
  • The MOD will provide additional manpower to assist with the management of demining programmes. In recent years the MOD has provided mine experts to programmes in Afghanistan, Angola, Belize, Cambodia and Cyprus, and played an important part in establishing the UN Mines Action Centre in Bosnia.
  • An inter-departmental working group is being established to focus the existing arrangements that exist between the three principal Departments of State which address demining issues: the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Development and the MOD.
Mr Robertson said: 'British soldiers have been in Bosnia on peacekeeping duties since 1992 and they are only too well aware of the physical risk that landmines create; indeed six soldiers have been killed and 27 seriously injured by such weapons in Bosnia and Croatia.

'Yesterday I visited a school at Sipovo, where I saw British soldiers providing mine awareness training to young children, who are so often the victim of landmines. Over the past 12 months, some 12,000 children have been trained by our soldiers here in Bosnia, and this will continue wherever we deploy Army units in mine affected countries around the world.

'The five-point plan that I have announced today is a good start. More measures are under consideration.'"

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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