The Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) supports the efforts of the international community in reducing the impact of mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). The Centre is active in research, provides operational assistance and supports the implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty.
The GICHD is an independent and impartial organisation. It was established in 1998 on an Swiss initiative and is now supported by the Governments of Austria, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the Republic and Canton of Geneva. The Centre has particularly close working relations with the United Nations.
The GICHD contributes to improved procedures, practices and technologies in humanitarian demining. The studies elaborated by the Centre address actual problems brought up by practitioners in the field or by donors. With its research, the Centre aims to increase the safety of demining and the cost-effectiveness of mine action programmes in the field.
Since May 2000, several major studies were completed by the GICHD. Examples are
- the Socio-economic Study, whichprovides a framework for measuring socio-economic impact and value, to help Programme Managers to set priorities and to allocate resources most efficiently.
- the Training Needs Analysis Study, which analysed the pre-deployment training needs of international staff newly appointed to key positions in field programmes.
- the Equipment Procurement Guidelines Study, which defined a proper management procedure for the purchase of mine action equipment, in order to assist field managers and donors. The results of this study were drawn into the International Standards for Mine Action (IMAS) discussed below.
In addition, the GICHD currently has more than a dozen other research projects and studies underway. These include
- the Mine Detection Dog Study, analysing existing problems related with mine detection dogs (e.g. training and evaluation) to increase their safety, efficiency, predictability and accuracy at field level.
- the Mine Awareness Media Study, focussing on media for mine awareness, and evaluating field-based media/communication tools and strategies for mine awareness education, to find the most cost-effective media for field use.
- the Victim Assistance Study, which aims to make concrete recommendations to Programme Managers on the level and limits of their responsibilities for victim assistance activity in their programmes.
- the Use of Military Organisations in Humanitarian Mine Action Projects Study, which will examine the practicability of using military organisations, both international and local, for all forms of humanitarian mine action.
In this context, the GICHD develops and disseminates – in co-operation with the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and other users – theInformation Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA).IMSMA consists of a ready-to-use tool covering the data collection and information management needs of mine action programmes in the field. As of April 2001, IMSMA was in use in 13 mine affected countries.
The Centre reviewed and updated – on behalf of UNMAS – theInternational Standards for Mine Action (IMAS).The IMAS project provides practitioners and donors with an updated and revised framework of technical and procedural prescriptions for safe and effective mine action. 31 Standards have been issued to date. An outreach programme was started in the spring 2001 to facilitate and support the implementation of IMAS, including workshops and seminars held at field level. The GICHD will continue to update and amend IMAS according to the actual needs of the field and to respond to the continuing development of mine action.
The GICHD also develops and distributes theTechnical Notes for Mine Action (TNMA)and the TRITON Reports. The TNMAs providefield managers with principles, advice and information relevant to a specific IMAS or other technical subjects. The TRITON Reports are a system for warning managers, deminers and EOD operators. They contain information on cases where munitions (especially improvised devices and booby traps) have been used in non-war situations. These reports also cover incidents where recovered UXO and mines have been used in association with sophisticated or unique initiation systems, etc.
During the reporting period, the Centre deployed staff members to participate inseveralUN Assessment Missions. These missions are of considerable importance, as they aim to define the scope and nature of the landmine and UXO problem in the affected countries, and to identify constraints and opportunities relating to the development of mine action initiatives.
Following the request of UNOPS, the Centre provided one expert to assist with theset-up of a mine action project within the newly established UN mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) between August and November 2000. Following a successful deployment to Kosovo (UNMIK) in summer 1999, this was the second time that the Centre has provided this kind of service, enabling the UN to accelerate the creation of the relevant structures in a very crucial phase.
In addition, the Centre – together with UNMAS – organised the fourthInternational Meeting of Mine Action Programme Directors and Advisors in February 2001.This conference unites representatives of mine affected countries, UN agencies, the World Bank, NGOs, donors and observers and provides a unique forum for discussion of actual problems at field level, for contacts between headquarters and the field, and for an exchange of views, perspectives, strategies, etc. For the first time, a special opportunity was created for contacts between donor governments and field representatives.
Finally, the GICHD provides advice to a variety of Governments, international organisations, NGOs etc. and evaluates and assesses situations in mine affected countries or on-going mine action programmes in the field.
SUPPORT FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE MBT
The GICHD supportsthe implementation of the Mine Ban Treatyby - inter alia - hosting the meetings of the Standing Committees within the intersessional work programme of the MBT. These meetings bring together representatives of States Parties, non-States Parties, international organisations, NGOs and other experts in order to ensure effective implementation and to report to the States Parties. The Centre also provides technical input to theses activities, mainly in the areas of mine clearance, victims assistance, stockpile destruction and technology.
The Centre participated in the Second Meeting of the States Parties to the MBT, which was held in Geneva between 11 - 15 September. This was the first time that the Centre was represented at such a meeting with a delegation. Declarations on behalf of the Centre were made by the President of the Council of Foundation as well as the Director.
In the margins of the meeting, the Centre – together with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) – organised an academic event providing an overview of current research projects in the field of mine action. A presentation on IMSMA and its capabilities was also arranged.
The Centre also administered a sponsorship programme on behalf of a Group of Donors, which allowed 23 delegates from 14 different countries to participate at the Second Meeting of the States Parties. During the December 2000 session of the Standing Committee, the programme allowed 27 delegates from 17 different countries and from one regional organisation to participate.
Finally, the Centre undertook first steps towards the creation of a documentation service on the MBT and improved the availability of relevant information on the Internet, inter alia by posting the documents of the meetings on its website (www.gichd.ch).
The Centre currently consists of 23 permanent staff members, including five persons seconded by the Governments of France, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. In total, eleven nationalities are represented at the Centre (including staff members having more than one citizenship): Switzerland (10 persons), UK (5), France (2), USA (2), Canada, Columbia, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal and Sweden.
Point of contact
Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining
7bis, avenue de la Paix
P.O. Box 1300
CH-1211 Geneva 1, Switzerland
Phone: +41 22 906 16 60
Fax: +42 22 906 16 90